- How did they land that awesome internship?
- How were they able to hold executive positions in 2 student organizations and still maintain a 3.5 GPA?
- They always know what to say!
These are just some of the comparisons we ask ourselves and that’s OK. We all compare ourselves to others in our social worlds, whether it is comparing our looks, our grades, or our talents to our peers. Often times, we think other people have it easier or have it all figured out, which is not usually the full story. We see others have the internship we want, or the grades we want, or the relationship status we want and we get “the grass is always greener on the other side” mindset. With that mindset we don’t always look at our own achievements and accomplishments as individual and don’t see how hard others have worked to get where they are. this is known as Social Comparison Theory, which states that individuals determine their own social and personal worth based on how they stack up against others they perceive as somehow faring better or worse (Psychology Today). Making social comparisons can have a positive impact on us by instilling a drive and motivation to do better, but it can also create anxiety if we are consistently trying to evaluate ourselves against everyone else. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but often times we only look at our weaknesses and look at other peoples’ strengths. Looking at strengths is always a good rule to follow with both yourself and others, but if you have difficulty finding language to define your strengths, there are a few steps you can take:
- Ask your friends and family members what they see as strengths. Those closest to you can provide you with insight into what their perspective of your skills are.
- Take a strengths assessment. There are a host of free assessments online.
- Make a career counseling appointment with the Bank of America Career Services on nittanylioncareers.psu.edu. They have skills and personality assessments available for you to see how your strengths fit in with various career paths.
Remember – no one, including your peers, parents and family members, and successful professionals, have life completely figured out and we all need to learn to adapt, change, and pivot in ways we weren’t expecting.