Friendships are supposed to be cherishing and uplifting. But what happens when your own pal makes you feel like a failure because of their own success in something? Trying to catch up with said friend while still maintaining your relatinship can be extremely hard to balance.

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Key Takeaways: 

  • Intelligence isn’t just about academic prowess or a high IQ. It includes various forms, like creative thinking and emotional intelligence. Understanding this helps in appreciating that everyone has unique strengths and contributes differently.
  • Constantly comparing your progress or success to others can harm self-esteem and motivation. It’s important to focus on your own journey and personal growth, instead of measuring yourself against someone else’s achievements.
  • To stay motivated while studying, recognize and set aside negative thoughts, tackle tasks directly, understand your study habits, and avoid self-doubt. Setting small, achievable goals and focusing on the end achievement can also help maintain motivation.

Imagine you’re learning JavaScript, and it’s a slow yet rewarding process. Then, a friend starts the same journey and astonishingly, within a day, they’ve created a complex game. They boast about their intelligence, being a Mensa member with a high IQ, but lack social skills and real-world experience. This is exactly what happened to a Reddit user, who decided to share their experience.

Knowing that there are people who grasp things much faster can be disheartening, making you feel like you must work four times harder just to keep pace. Let’s explore this sensitive issue, and look through insights and strategies to cope with feeling overshadowed by a friend. 

The Many Facets of Intelligence

Intelligence is commonly seen as a measure of one’s ability to learn quickly, solve problems, and understand complex ideas. However, it’s important to realize that intelligence is not just one-dimensional. It comes in various forms and manifests differently in each individual. Some people excel in academic fields, showcasing their intelligence through impressive problem-solving skills or quick learning abilities. Others may possess a more creative form of intelligence, able to think outside the box and generate innovative ideas. 

“Also, I’m fairly sure most people in the industry routinely score 120-140 at IQ tests, and that you’d probably do too. If you somehow managed to be impressed by his 140 score, maybe just go and take the test yourself as well. You might be surprised.”

Emotional intelligence, the ability to understand and manage emotions, both in oneself and in others, is yet another crucial form. It’s essential to appreciate that everyone has a unique blend of these different types of intelligence. This broader understanding helps us recognize that being ‘smart’ is not just about excelling academically or having a high IQ. Everyone has their own strengths and areas of intelligence, which collectively contribute to a diverse and dynamic world.

Psychological Impact of Comparing Success

Feeling demotivated by a friend’s intelligence or success, especially in areas like programming, is often rooted in psychological factors. When we compare ourselves to others, particularly friends who show rapid progress or high skill levels, it can trigger feelings of inadequacy. This is especially true in environments like programming, where progress and skill are highly visible. 

“Don’t compare yourself to people like that, you’re on your own journey. But, if it makes you feel better, everyone has something that they are envious of in others. The rockstar wishes he had the bodybuilders body, the bodybuilder wishes he could sing like the rockstar, the programmer wishes he could frame a house, the house framer wishes he could code a calculator. Just stay focused on improving.”

Comparing our journey to someone else’s can lead to a decrease in self-esteem, as we might perceive ourselves as less capable or intelligent. Additionally, social dynamics play a significant role in how we gauge our success. If society or our social circle values certain skills or achievements highly, not being on par with peers can affect our motivation. 

“You know there was a study that said people who are told they’re smart are often less successful than those who are told they’re a hard worker? People who are told they’re smart gave up as soon as things got tough, the hard worker ones doubled down and pushed through until they had it.”

This comparison game can make us overlook our own progress and unique learning path. Understanding that everyone’s journey is different and focusing on personal growth rather than comparison is crucial in overcoming these feelings of demotivation.

Boosting Your Coding Skills When Feeling Left Behind

In the world of coding, it’s easy to feel like you’re falling behind, especially when you see others making rapid progress. If you’re in this situation, there are ways to improve your coding skills effectively. First, understand that everyone’s learning curve is different. What takes one person a day to learn might take another a week, and that’s perfectly okay. The key is consistency. Regular practice, even in small amounts, can significantly improve your skills over time.

“Comparison is the thief of joy”. Never compare yourselves to others. They may have more experience or luck and you can only control what you can control.

Another important aspect is to tackle projects that challenge you. By stepping out of your comfort zone and working on projects slightly above your current skill level, you’ll learn new concepts and techniques. This might feel daunting at first, but it’s a powerful way to grow.

Seeking feedback is also crucial. Whether it’s from a mentor, an online community, or peers, constructive feedback can provide new perspectives and highlight areas for improvement. Additionally, try to learn from others. Watch how experienced coders solve problems and try to understand their thought process.

Finally, remember that the journey of learning to code is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about gradual improvement and persistence. By focusing on your personal growth and learning at your own pace, you’ll find your skills improving more naturally and sustainably.

How to Stay Motivated While Studying

Studying can often feel overwhelming, leading to self-doubt, especially when you think you have a much smarter, overachieving friend by your side. However, there are effective ways to stay motivated and manage these challenges. Zoi Kontakou, Counselling Psychologist in UCL Student Psychological Services, stressed the importance of trying to stay motivated while learning, even when it feels pointless. Here are some of her other suggestions:

  • Recognize and write down any resistance or difficult feelings towards studying, then set them aside to focus on your work.
  • Avoiding your studies can be more emotionally draining than the actual work. Tackle your tasks directly.
  • Understand that procrastinating sometimes is normal. Acknowledge this habit and gently steer yourself back to your tasks.
  • Identify what makes studying more enjoyable for you. Tailor your study environment and methods to suit your preferences.
  • Avoid comparing yourself to others and doubting your capabilities.
  • Commit to sitting down and beginning your work, even if it’s just for a short period. Think of it as a gradual takeoff.
  • Prioritize important tasks and avoid multitasking.
  • Talking about your study plans or challenges can help you commit to your goals and gain useful perspectives.
  • Set achievable goals for short time frames rather than feeling overwhelmed by the entire workload.
  • Remember that studying is a journey out of your comfort zone. Focus on the satisfaction and achievement you will feel at the end, much like reaching the summit of a challenging hike.

By adopting these strategies, you can navigate the ups and downs of studying, keeping your motivation strong even when the journey feels tough.

Strategies to Manage Academic Envy

The situation discussed in the original post can easily transfer to jealousy; take another step and we meet envy. Academic envy, a common yet seldom discussed issue in educational and research environments, can create significant challenges for both the individuals experiencing envy and those who are the targets of such feelings. Especially if both are friends or have a close relationship. Dr Jorge Reyna shared several ways to manage this issue when facing hard feelings. 

First of all, early-career academics should actively participate in social activities, fostering relationships with other colleagues. This helps in building a supportive network and mitigates the effects of envy. If envy escalates, discussing the issue with more experienced may be necessary. However, direct confrontation with the envious individual could exacerbate the situation. Employing conflict resolution skills is essential.

Another thing to try is to avoid unnecessary comparisons. To minimize feelings of envy, academics should focus on their own research and progress rather than comparing themselves with others. This includes minimizing time spent thinking about colleagues’ achievements.

“There’s nobody to keep up with. Only technologies. As long as you can put things on your resumé and pass interviews, you’re golden. You’re going into a career, not a competition.”

Professional development and social involvement might help you a whole lot. Joining programming groups, attending retreats, and participating in conferences can enhance skills and provide a support network. This can help in redirecting focus from envy to personal and professional growth.

Finally, creating a culturally safe and understanding work environment, considering models like Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, helps in fostering strong working relationships and managing envy levels in diverse academic settings.

So, if you feel like you are really starting to ‘lose it’, it is best to tackle the issue before it blooms into something much more serious. Remember, each one of us has our own unique strengths and qualities that make us special. It’s important to recognize and celebrate these differences. They are what make you, you! Also, cherish the supportive friends around you. These are the people who see your true value and encourage you to be your best self. They remind us that we are not alone in our journey. Together, embracing our individuality and leaning on the strength of friendships, we can overcome challenges and enjoy the diverse tapestry of life. So, go ahead, appreciate your unique self and the wonderful friends who make life brighter.

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