We evolved to take the path of least resistance. We categorize everything that surrounds us because it’s easier for our brains to process broad ideas rather than zoom into minutiae. Black and white both have clear definition. Gray areas are uncertain. Gray areas contain more questions than answers.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs largely determine what we want to exert effort on. If foundational needs such as safety and stability are lacking, one will seek clear definition. If one’s cup is full in the areas of safety and stability, exploring the gray, great unknown is less likely to feel like a burden.
“It’s like apples and oranges.”
I’ve heard this saying throughout my life, but it was always applied to objects or concepts that had foundational differences from each other. But it can easily be applied to human beings. One human being to any another human being is like comparing an apple to an orange. Sure, there are fundamental similarities between all human beings, but how fair is it to compare oneself to someone else?
I have compared myself up (to someone “better” than me) and down (to someone I am “better” than) and I’m not sure it is ever beneficial to me in the long-run. But it’s instinct. Everybody does it, sometimes subconsciously. We do it to puff ourselves up or to beat ourselves down. But at the end of the day we are comparing our apple self to another orange self. It just isn’t practical.
There are too many variables that shape who we are and who we become: our biology and genetics, where we grew up, who raised us, who our teachers were, who we loved and who loved us. Take into account all these factors and throw in some feelings and emotions…it’s kind of a mess. Each one of us is such a mess of things. To attempt a fair comparison of two heaps of seemingly random things is enough to make one go insane.
So every time I do it to myself, compare myself to another…well, I gotta go back to this entry as a healthy reminder. I’m comparing my apple self to another orange self.
For the longest time, I believed I needed to have a second self, a work self. It became apparent in the past few years that this was not sustainable. With two selves came the work of playing two separate characters, overlapping in ways, but still two separate roles. It was exhausting. It wasn’t real. What was real was the mental olympics that came with play acting two different people. So I began chipping away at my work self. I’m becoming just one me and I’m finding that “just one me” is much more liberating.