I was in my son's room today and noticed a new pair of boots sitting on his dresser. I turned to leave and happened to see my first pair of boots sitting as decor on his shelf. As children, we think we can never fill the shoes of our parents. We see them as something more superhuman than real because we aren't cognizant of their failings and shortcomings. If you are lucky, maybe you don’t get to see that reality for many years. Those boots, though, made me think of the comparisons we make in life and the danger that comes with that—a real-life metaphor of filling shoes.
As young boys, we compare ourselves to our fathers and always come up short in our own minds. Maybe girls do the same, but I don’t have that perspective or experience. It is probably the first comparison we make in life, but unfortunately, not the last. Comparing ourselves leads to our greatest sense of insecurity and failure. We too often compare ourselves to others without knowing how far they have come or where they started. I read a quote a few years ago; “The only person you should try to be better than is who you were yesterday.” We look on social media and see people who post perfect moments that we feel we never have. It’s dangerous to compare a perfect moment, snapped by a photographer, to the reality of our daily grinds. Tim Hiller said, “Don’t compare your beginnings to someone else’s middle.” I would take that a step farther and simplify it a bit. Don’t compare yourself to someone else, period. I understand there may be some valid ones to help push yourself for growth. I still think it's a dangerous game. The only fair comparison is where you are today versus yesterday; the rest doesn’t matter. I hope that my children never look at my boots and think they will never be able to fill them; that comparison isn’t fair. I have failed and scraped for the last three decades to understand how to succeed. In reality, they will have an immense advantage because, hopefully, they can learn from my failures quicker than I did. If they compare, maybe I’ll show them this picture, my first pair of boots, no harder to fill than their first pair. Hopefully, they will see that comparison is the only fair one.