Stephanie was her name and she was my grade school crush! With her long black hair, porcelain-white skin, and tantalizing eyes, she was obviously the envy of the other girls in our classroom. Every time she entered the space before classes started, her adorable presence would light up the atmosphere ending the noisy commotion typical of restless pupils gathering.
On a daily basis, I’ve noticed that she kept glancing at a huge red notebook that she hid in her school bag. There appeared to be a vivid picture of a beautiful young lady printed on it. After many weeks of observing her usual behavior, I finally developed the courage to cure my curiosity and speak to her.
“Would you mind me asking why you keep looking at your red notebook,” I asked.
“Well, I can’t help but stare at the photo of my favorite teen actress everyday. She has been my idol for a long time now. Plus, she’s physically attractive and I really aspire to be like her someday!” Stephanie replied with a smile.
“Oh, I see. But you’re already gorgeous the way you are!” I continued as I looked at her in the eyes pretending not to be nervous with my fast-beating heart inside.
“I’m sorry but I don’t like the way I look now. I want to be a famous movie celebrity like her someday, and I’ll do anything to make that happen!” She answered in a confidently loud voice.
That was the last memorable conversation I had with her. Time passed by quickly that I haven’t heard from her for 2 decades until one day I bumped into one of our mutual friends inside a mall.
“Remember Stephanie our classmate in third grade? How’s she doing nowadays?” This was the first question that bursted out of my mouth.
“Yes, I remember her! How could I forget - she was the most stunning girl I’ve seen during those days! However, I’ve learned from her cousin that she passed away 2 years ago due a health complication caused by a cosmetic surgical procedure. With her natural beauty and appealing physical features, I’m still totally confused as to why she would undergo such a critical operation. What a waste!” My friend answered while continuously swaying his face from left to right.
As human beings, we constantly crave importance and desire to be appreciated. This basic instinct has been embedded in our genes since infancy and has remained until our adult years. Notice how babies deploy the natural mechanism of crying when not attended to?
On the other hand, what happens to those individuals who have been neglected or abandoned by their parents since birth? Well, they grow up continuously hungry for attention that they seek for it from other convenient sources and people who they think can satisfy their unfulfilled needs. If not enough, they also strive by all means to be like others they idolize to compensate for their lack of self-esteem. Thus they lose their self-identity in the process unfortunately ending up not being their true selves.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with adoring and looking up to people you admire. But, aspiring to be exactly like your idol in every literal sense is a completely different story. Aren’t we supposed to be unique creations with our own individualities? What’s the point of living our lives if we just copy the lifestyles, habits, and behaviors of others? No 2 human beings are created equal. If only Stephanie realized this at an early stage in her life, she could have avoided the perils of sacrificing her own identity just to be someone else.
Aside from the temptation of being similar to our idols, we possess the natural tendency for fierce competition. We easily get jealous when others accomplish things that are beyond our own capabilities resulting in unnecessary envy and hate.
And with the proliferation of various attractive personalities on social media platforms nowadays where people can easily showcase themselves to the world, it’s not a surprise that envy and hate have been the major causes of unwanted suicide. The never-ending cycles of comparison with others and the insatiable desire for attention have escalated into a dreadful mental disorder to the brink of devastating unmindful victims in its path. Like Stephanie, I’ve also experienced these similar scenarios yet, I’ve managed to block this critical disease early on in its tracks.
When would this frustrating dilemma stop? I don’t know. But here’s what i know - it’s definitely possible to cure this common problem regardless of how deep you’ve buried yourself in this psychological trap. Here’s what I’ve learned.
“The best person to compete with and be much better than is the person you were yesterday.”
Until we bear that in mind, could this be an effective way to transform our world into a more beautiful place?