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It was at about 3pm last week Sunday. I was studying (with all the concentration I could muster) for my Project Management certification examination which I was supposed to take the next day when I heard my Blackberry phone buzz. “PING”, “PING”, I remembered that I put the phone on silent so I thought surely this must be very important or God forbid… an emergency. I stretched to my bedside drawer, picked up the phone where I hid it and looked at my BBM message. It read;
Sender: “Babe… are you there?”
Sender: “Babe”
Sender: “PING”, “PING”
Me: “How far?” (Pidgin English for: How are you?)
Sender: “I dey ooo” (Pidgin English for: I’m fine)
Me: “Se kosi?” (Yoruba Language for: Is there any problem)
Sender: “Babe…xyz is getting married”
Me: “Ehen… that’s brilliant. To who? ”
Sender: “One guy she started dating late last year”
Me: “Awww”
Sender: “Babe I need to settle down real fast, everyone is getting married eh, see even small jkl got married last month. When will my own come naa… I am tired.”
Me: “Why are you tired?”
Sender: “Look at me naa (“naa” is an exclamation), all my mates are married and I can’t even boast of a serious relationship. I keep attracting horny jerks, see even abc’s boyfriend just got her the new ipad.”
Me: “Babe…hapu ife ahu, (Igbo Language for: forget that), your own time will come too. At least you are alive, remember that someone somewhere, just died this minute”
Sender: “True sha (sha is pidgin english for an emphasis)”
Me: “You have a good job that allows you travel around and see different beautiful places. Do any of these people you have compared yourself to have this?”
Me: “You are pretty, healthy and kicking, you have a family that supports you, some people don’t have that you know… Count your blessings babe. You know when you are grateful for what you have you get more.”
Sender: “Na true sha… (Pidgin for: that’s true), this babe, you are an old woman in a young girl’s body. Ehen…by the way, I have these nice red high heels for sale…I think you would love”
The conversation moved to other trivial matters and when we finished, I pondered for a while asking myself these questions, “Why do we compete?” “Why do we define our success by how well other people are doing?”
My thoughts took me to when I was a child in Primary School, those days, achieving the first position in the class was the only position worth anything. We all strove to be in first position, I generally fluctuated between first position and second position up to the point when the class position system was changed to a class average system.

My thoughts then led me to my secondary school days where being first in the class did not matter so much to me anymore, I just did enough to get a very good average and never failed a course. University days were a slightly different story. People who were on course for a First Class were seen as demi gods, Second Class hopefuls seemed to have their futures sealed in a golden enveloped marked with “Sure Success”, the Second Class Lower were labelled as “a bunch of no-goods” (these were actual words of a lecturer by the way). If you then made the mistake of being on a Third Class, you were seen as done for.

Fast forward 5 years later, on careful observation I have noticed that everyone seems to be doing alright regardless of what grade you came out with. In fact, some of the “no-good” ones seem to do even better that the demi gods by some standards.

This got me thinking about how very different we really are. We come from different backgrounds; have different personalities, strengths, weaknesses, personal goals and past experiences, etc. So surely, using someone else as a basis for comparison is like comparing apples to oranges, which is not exactly fair.

Just as in my primary school days, when we competed for the first position because the first position was limited and not everyone could come first. Choosing to still compete and compare ourselves to someone else, invariably tells God/the Universe that there is scarcity of what we are competing for. Not exactly true is it?

Another thing I have noticed is that, when we compare ourselves to someone else, we lose our peace and we start having negative thoughts which cause us to believe that we are not good enough? We even forget that you are better than the ones lying in the mortuaries/graves who do not have the opportunity that we have.

If you don’t catch yourself early enough, these thoughts may cause you to start having even more negative thoughts, which could cause you to probably take solace in food, eat more or less, gain/lose weight, feel miserable about your appearance, find someone who seems to look better than you, compare yourself with that person and the mad cycle begins again. In the end who suffers for it? You guessed it…YOU.

Isn’t it better to ask yourself this question, “Am I better than I was five years ago?”, “Have I learnt new skills, increased my knowledge, wealth, etc. in the past 5 years?” If the answer is yes, then surely things are not that bad. You will then find yourself feeling better, more grateful and happier. These feelings should in turn energise you and cause you to ask the next question “Where do I want to be in 1, 2, 3 or 5 years’ time?” At this point you would notice yourself feeling even more energetic, scared or excited and then ask yourself, “How can I get there?”
What you do at this stage is up to you…

I would recommend getting a piece of paper/notebook and thankfully set personal goals, not out of the need to compete but goals with time limits that are true to you alone. You should then work towards each goal in a successful manner, staying thankful for what you have.

You may fall off a couple of times but staying thankful shows you that falling off is not because you cannot be successful because surely you have been successful at something else in the past.

Thank you for reading and I hope this post blessed you as it has blessed me.
Have a good weekend