By Maya Hanck, TIWP College Program

You ask whether your verses are good… You compare them with other poems and you are disturbed when certain editors reject your efforts.” -Rilke

Comparison rules. Everything around us is judged and ranked on a scale that is contingent upon its comparison. In our reality, value is allotted based on a scale created by our present society and its standards. For example, you might be considered smart in your hometown, but average in college. You might be considered moderately successful until you step foot in a Fortune 500 company for an interview. Everything is relative to your surroundings.

Living in a world of constant comparison is hard. It continually tears you down so just when you start feeling adequate you return to nothing but dust.

Up until my freshman year of high school, I felt like I was enough. I was a stellar student, athlete, and loved my best friends. I was still doing well in school, but I was always painfully aware of my physical appearance. I was never happy with the way I looked. I constantly compared everything that contributed to my physical appearance to everyone around me, and it took a toll on both my self-esteem and self-worth. Either I felt amazing about how I looked or felt like I was hideous and should be hidden. I tried to hide these feelings from those that I knew out of fear that I’d get the response “but you’re so skinny” like, guess what, maybe in your eyes I am, but not in mine. I felt this way because of the mixed responses I’ve received over the years.

In middle school I had a good friend who was basically skin and bones. Looking back, she is probably part of the reason I continually grapple with questioning what I actually look like. Next to her, I was bigger. Next to my friends in high school, I was normal. Now in college, my friends say I’m small. So, what am I, I wonder?

It’s definitely gotten better, but that’s not to say that whenever I see a mirror, I don’t lift up my shirt to see how my stomach looks. It’s hard and it’s not fun, but this is a reality many face. When society fabricates the image we are to compare ourselves to, we will never measure up. This is a battle the world fights every day, kicking and pushing to fit in the mold. Some win, some lose, some abstain. But there is another war going on, as well. The fight to cease comparison—to end the years of scrutiny and find your bliss.

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