Posted in Mental Health

“I Can’t Compete With That”

I sometimes take to going back through my blog history looking for inspiration and ideas for upcoming posts and came across this one that was the beginning of the Miss X + Mister Unsuitable saga that partly fuelled by sink into depression in late Summer 2012. It’s two years since that low point and I hope never to return there again.

2013-0921-dare-final-019-001I’m surprised that I haven’t already done a post on the concept of “I can’t compete with that” – basically, comparing ourselves to others and how it is the most damaging thing to our self esteem. We know it happens – there is nothing more prominent than the media’s idealised (impossible) female figure and how it is damaging the self-esteem of young girls. Increasingly, this applies to men to when you see how similar BDD figures are between young men and women. We men go through it to but as we have spent our adult lives 50% coping with rejection and 50% internalising it, it’s probably the one thing that once you get past all the bravado, we don’t talk about to those closest to us. We’re supposed to “be a man” and “take it on the chin” or otherwise keep quiet about it.

So how do we men compare ourselves to others? Generally, similar to the ways in which women compare themselves to others.

  • Physical appearance – for men this would include general good looks, physique, hair (balding men are often self-conscious about it), hair colour, muscles
  • Confidence – especially with women. A couple of years ago, I commented on the vicious cycle that is confidence
  • Material things – money, car, house, family. Men are objectified often as providers. We are expected to pay for dates – even if he is earning a hell of a lot less than she is. He is automatically expected to be the breadwinner. Basically, society places a value on a man for his utility even if women cannot often see it or would vigorously deny it
  • Success – Sort of related to material things, it doesn’t necessarily mean wealth. We look at our achievements or lack of and compare those to others too. A man who works as an administrator might envy the success of a friend who is a manager in his own job, even if the administrator is earning more money. It’s comparing prestige I suppose, rather than wealth

It’s an easy trap to fall into and comparing ourselves to others is the worst way in which we will bring ourselves down. Today it is easy to do and excessive use of Facebook has been linked to depression as we are persistently bombarded with peoples’ “perfect” lives.

It’s a hard lesson to learn, but you need to stop. Quotes alone will never change anything but the one at the top of this article is how I feel now – even if I didn’t feel it then. When Miss X got together with Mister Unsuitable I saw somebody who was infinitely better looking than I am, taller, slimmer, smooth-talking, more confident and I was never going to be in with a shot. You know what?

Fuck that!

It’s not worth it. You only harm yourself when you come out with it. You don’t know what that person is really like. They might talk a good talk and they might be good at covering their own insecurities but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have insecurities. Even if they didn’t… even if they were as sorted as they claim to be, there is nothing that you can do about it.

Everybody has them and the first step to being fine with that is realising that those who appear to be the most sorted, are not necessarily.

Comparing yourself to others doesn’t help you change or recover; if anything, it is just another tool to beat yourself up with.



I go by the name of Frank Speaking. My blog "In the Mind of Men" (former name Chin Up, Chest High) started out as a chronicle of my mental health recovery. Now it is a forum where I discuss issues related to male mental health.

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