No More Comparison

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Nishtha Shrestha

The characteristics of a good student are regular attendance, timely completion of assignments and a nice academic score. While these markers define the standards every student is taught to achieve, it does not take into account factors like home environment, personal health and financial condition of the student. It may appear odd to include these factors but the failure to consider them initiates the process of comparison in the lives of children. This then results in the rise of unsatisfied parents and confused students who are unable to cope with the aforementioned gold standard of education.

This early exposure to comparison worsens as the child steps into adolescence. While in childhood, the issues were limited to eating habits and diligence to school work. In the case of adolescents, the habit of comparison touches upon life altering aspects such as self-esteem, body image, career, substance use, etc. The peer pressure is high and comparison further adds to the problem. Parents make no excuse while comparing their children in matters of education, personality and manners. The physical and mental challenges compound under such an environment and thus it is no surprise then that the adolescents of today are more stressed than in the past.

After overcoming the hurdles of adolescence, there seems to be no rest even as adults. The comparison cycle continues for the choice of job, partner and decision of staying in their home country. It is disheartening to see negative comments on issues such as working women, new styles of parenting and choice of lifestyle, all because it is different when "compared" to the age-old practices. While some modern parents have stopped themselves from passing on this evil to their children, others have struggled to break this cycle. The constant need to evaluate oneself in terms of others keeps couples unhappy in their marriage and prevents them from understanding the true self of their partner. This dissatisfaction then impacts the family and most importantly the children who witness the constant arguments.

As per Hinduism, death signals the freedom from the worldly affairs. But the tragedy today is that this circus of comparison includes even those who have passed away. While comparison on how well one is treated in old age is common, the interesting development is the comparison in the manner of the rituals followed after death. The fear of comparison makes the family members follow every practice suggested by the priest without paying attention to the last wishes of the dying person. Such behaviours makes one wonder whether the peace of the person who has died is important or the society who forces the family by using examples of comparison.

At every stage of life, comparison exists. It is true at times comparison motivates a person to work harder. But when comparison destroys the individuality of a person, it is time to put an end to it. In this process of comparison, children get labelled from an early age with tags such as shy, lazy, dull, deviant, etc. Parents rush to compare their child without understanding that child development is a unique process. Many dreams at different stages of life are ignored due to the over-reliance on comparison. And if we are to lessen the regrets when we ultimately face death, maybe it is time to rest the comparison once and for all.  

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