Is social comparison normal? Jonathan Alpert answers

Just because they have throngs of screaming fans doesn’t mean you’re any less than them.

The question
Is it normal that I constantly compare myself to others? I’m 30 years old and feel like I haven’t accomplished enough in my life. I have a decent job, an awesome boyfriend and a pretty good life all around, but I look at others and see people my age who have published books, started companies, made millions of dollars and more. 


Not only is this social comparison not normal, but it’s also unhealthy. Standards and trends are set, expectations created and hence, there’s the perpetual, exhausting quest to be like someone else. It’s all because that’s what we think we’re supposed to do. Our expectations are in part based on what we see around us. For instance, we might look toward celebrities to form a standard of how we think we should look, or the style of clothes we should wear. In your case, you see highly accomplished people and feel inferior and as though you should be doing what they do. Expectations are also formed by pressure from family. For example, Mom and Dad might pressure you to get married and have a child.

Though it is impressive to have published a book or amassed a fortune by age 30, these people don’t represent the norm and are truly outliers, and therefore do not make for a good comparison. Motives that are internally driven are far more powerful than those that come from external forces. 

Set goals based on your standards and expectations, not those of others. Focus on your own accomplishments and the “pretty good life all around” that you have. Trust me: There are countless 30-somethings who would be thrilled to have “a decent job” and “an awesome boyfriend.”

– Jonathan Alpert is a licensed psychotherapist. His book,  “Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days,” is available now. E-mail him your questions at jonathan@jonathanalpert.com.

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.