The Highlight Reel

by Annie Milbourn

We do this every day. Whether it’s scrolling through social media or walking around campus, we are constantly guilty of this. Being a woman in today’s society, we have so many channels of communication that sneak into our conscience and tell us we aren’t good enough. We are constantly comparing ourselves to others that it becomes so mundane we fail to catch it.

When you were five, you may have compared who had more Barbie dolls. When you were twelve, you probably compared who got the coolest flip phone. Sixteen, you likely compared who was the coolest by who had the latest curfew. Eighteen, you most definitely compared everyone’s college choices. And now that you’re in college, you find yourself comparing everything.

Being halfway done with my junior year, I can’t help but come to a realization. I walk past sororities with huge paper signs that scream congratulations to their members who make significant accomplishments. I scroll through Facebook and see statuses announcing my friends’ prestigious job offers or their thrilling study abroad plans. I hear strangers everywhere from the line at the grocery store to the back of the classroom, gloating to their friends about their good news.

I subconsciously think to myself how cool that is for them, how I will probably never achieve that, and I go on with my day. How did it get to this point?

I scroll through social media and wonder why I’m not as skinny as her and why I don’t have as cute of clothes as that girl. While seeing one post doesn’t instantly make me feel self-conscious about myself, it’s the longtime buildup of the unintentional thoughts that I will never be like that person. These thoughts are damaging and lingering.

I recently came across a quote by Steven Purtick, a well-known pastor in North Carolina, that said, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

I was speechless upon reading this. I had finally gotten to the bottom of my habit with comparing myself to people around me. Nobody on Instagram is posting selfies of how they look right when they wake up. And (hopefully) nobody on Facebook is posting their tragic breakup story. And I guarantee that nobody on LinkedIn is listing the internship they almost got.

Basically, I have spent the past ten or so years constantly equating myself to others. I spent way too much time feeling mediocre and inferior to most the people around me. I focused too much on everything going on around me and how successful everyone was. I thought too much about how perfect someone else looked. And in the end, I forgot to realize the fact that I am capable of being that successful and that I am that perfect in someone else’s eyes. Why do I believe that is so out of my reach?

It’s imperative that we remember not to measure our self-worth and level of prominence by comparing ourselves to others. This behavior is detrimental to anyone, but especially to college women. While our four years in college serves as a crucial time to add to our resumes, it’s also a crucial time to grow as individuals and figure out what we are passionate about.

It may have taken two and a half years of college under my belt to come to this realization, but I’m glad I was able to catch myself. When we remember to stop comparing our behind-the-scenes to others’ highlight reels, there is so much potential to start feeling more capable. Capable of doing the thing that you’re used to others accomplishing. Capable of going to the place you never thought imaginable. Capable of finally ending your comparison to others.

Annie Milbourn