Picking up from our previous blog post . . .
On those days I identify with the late Farrah Fawcett, who longed to move past Charlie’s Angels status into serious acting. People laughed—until she did The Burning Bed, which got her nominated for an Emmy award and a Golden Globe.
I’ve got more in me, too, I think.
Call it the Contender Syndrome–while this phenomenon is not a clinical diagnosis, the feeling is quite common today, especially with the proliferation of social networking and the public blaring of the fabulousness of other people’s lives.
Hollywood publicists are hired and paid well to help celebrities maintain their status by constantly being marketed to the mass public. We can’t buy food, be entertained, or even grab a stick of gum without learning something exciting or scandalous about a celebrity face.
“Whether it’s a 16-year-old student or 45-year-old CFO, I hear them say, ‘I’m not as successful as I should be,’ and I’m seeing it more and more,” says Jim Taylor, a psychologist in San Francisco. “It used to be that your immediate comparison group was your neighborhood or friends. Now you’re exposed to everybody who has so much. We base our happiness on our most immediate comparison group. These days, it’s the world.”
Now take a moment to stop and consider what our friend Mr. Taylor has said here. Who would have been your comparison group in a world without mass media and social networking? Your immediate friends and neighbors, right? Stop reading (only long enough to do the exercise and then come back) and picture each one of them. You can compare yourself if you feel compelled to do so, but it’s not necessary. Just taking the time to fully realize who they are and where they are at in life should be enough. Some will be much more successful (launching your natural contender syndrome) and some will be much less successful. The key thing to note is that wherever a friend or neighbor falls on that scale is entirely your perspective. Their reality may be very different than you perceive. Whether it is or isn’t, our human nature uses this meter to define our own level of success.
Your feelings may change after thinking about it . . . and they may not. After all, the contender syndrome is deeply ingrained and may take a focused awareness to change over time. Doing this exercise, how do you view your own level of success currently?