I have a tedency to believe the worst about myself. When I think there is something positive about me (perhaps a skill or a way I deal with certain situations), there’s always a little creeping doubt that perhaps I’m not as good as I think I am. I don’t know that I’m good, I just think I am, so it’s possible that I’m not actually good at all.
In those circumstances, despite the fact that I obviously have reason to believe the positive perspective, I assume I’ve been fooling myself and completely buy into the negative perspective. I’ve been learning that about myself since I started this blog.
I stumbled across a little anecdote in my private blog today, though, that I thought I’d share.
There’s this concept in psych called Upward Social Comparison (and there’s Downward Social Comparison, too). The basic premise is that when people compare themselves to those who’re perceived as higher in a social context then they feel bad (and perhaps resentful), or occasionally inspired. (In downward you feel good about yourself because you say “oh, at least I’m not like that…”)
There’s a fellow Psych student who I’ve become friends with who is very popular socially at uni, and also highly respected as she is President of the Psych Society and works really hard to achieve well academically. I’d estimate that she does about double the amount of uni work that I do. I’ve therefore always felt that she’s someone to respect and to try to keep up with (or at least, near, since I’m never going to work as hard as she does).
We were chatting before the exam today and I was saying how anxious I was about the exam. She replied “Don’t say that! If you don’t do well on the exam, what hope is there for the rest of us! You’ll upset my upward social comparison!”
I found it so funny (but shocking) that she’s been putting me in that higher group, when that’s where I’ve been putting HER!