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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

How insecure are we?

Amrutha Penumudi, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, February 11, 2013
First Published: 13:40 IST(11/2/2013) | Last Updated: 19:31 IST(13/2/2013)

If you thought contesting for the coveted title of teacher’s pet, or the pressure to hang out with the popular kids were concerns you had left behind in school, then think again. Our lifestyles have transformed our worlds into a gigantic classroom, where one can often feel as insecure as a 16-year-old.

Experts have even found a term to describe this need of ours to secretly compare ourselves with our peers — yardsticking. Thirty-seven year old Geeta Bansali is a successful corporate lawyer and the mother of two. She says life couldn’t have been better, both professionally and personally, but sometimes, just spotting someone in a better dress is enough for her to feel threatened. “It’s not like I am jealous. It is the feeling of ‘Oh I will never be good enough’. Your social standing is not just decided by how much you earn anymore; it’s more about who you know, and what you talk about. You are in a constant tussle with your peers, not anywhere else, but in your head,” she explains.

Do you measure up?
A research conducted by economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers a couple of years ago, found yardsticking to be especially inherent among women. Their study pointed out that even though women across the world are more empowered than ever before, their happiness and contentment with life is declining. “People are often scrambling to measure up to those around them. They assume that the other person is perfectly happy, and want a life like theirs. But the grass always seems greener on the other side. No one is born with a perfect life,” insists city psychologist Aditi Samant.

Social network frenzy
Another reason that could encourage yardsticking, Stevenson and Wolfer argue, could be the fact that most people have a completely false idea of what success is. Social networking websites are also responsible for creating an image of perfect lives. With pictures of new cars, beautiful wives and perfect kids flooding your timeline, who’s not going to feel miserable? “Firstly, this tendency to flaunt every other thing on Facebook actually stems out of low self-esteem issues. The fact that people want to validate how much ‘fun’  they are having is an attempt to look better among their own peers,” says Samant. Name changed on request.

Cues you can use
Every person’s life is plagued by insecurities, that bottle up right from his or her childhood days. While there is no hard and fast solution to keep them at bay, it is important that they do not affect your self-image.

Think about all the things that you do have, instead of focusing on what you don’t.
Remember that the person you think has a perfect life must think the same about you.

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