Recently I heard someone describe the way we compare ourselves with others as, ‘comparing our back stages with their front stages.’ Often what we see of other people is their polished ‘front stage.’ Meanwhile, we’re only too aware of our own struggles and difficulties and all the other things that are going on—the messy ‘back stage’ of our lives.
Especially with social media, it can be easy to compare our lives to the ‘front stages’ of everyone else. The problem is that what we see in others is usually only a small part of a bigger picture, and is normally confined to what they choose to share. Everyone has a ‘back stage’, but that’s not what usually gets put out for the world to see. Rather, most people tend to share the best parts—the ‘front stage.’
And if we’re not careful, all of these ‘front stages’ can begin to distort our view of reality. We may quickly become discouraged, comparing our lives to the images others are portraying. We may think life’s not fair, or that we’re failures compared to everyone else. But in doing this, we forget that we’re only seeing what others are choosing to share with us. Everyone has a back stage. Everyone has struggles and difficulties. Life can get messy at times. But we usually only see this in ourselves, and perhaps in the lives of a few close friends.
All of this is one more reason to avoid the trap of comparing ourselves with others—not only does it not help us, but it’s usually based on a distortion of reality anyway.