Friendly advice for my fellow 20-somethings: stop it with the obsessive comparisons. Seriously. This should be a time for you to learn, explore, wonder, create, play and grow. Not get tangled up in insecurities. So unless you develop blinders, become critical of the media (especially social media) and celebrate your victories, you will rapidly deplete your energy and creativity in the pursuit of second place.

“The key to success is comparing yourself to everyone, everyday. Then let that anxiety and fear propel you to work harder, faster, and with more motivation.” – Guy who had a nervous breakdown at 27 (via Paul Angone)

Consider this:

  • No matter how nice you were on the court, Nike would’ve never signed you to a 7-year, $90 million contract back in high school.
  • Jennifer Lawrence is gorgeous, hilarious and awesome. She also won an Oscar at 21.
  • At 27, Kevin Systrom made $400 million off his 40% stake in Instagram. At 27, you’ll still be paying off your student loans.
  • Jay Z accomplished more in his retirement than you’ll accomplish in your entire career.
  • It’s highly unlikely that you’ll win more championship rings than Bill Russel (11), or more gold medals than Michael Phelps (22).
  • You’re watching The Oprah Winfrey Show..on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
  • Your app/product idea sounds great, but it in all likelihood it won’t have a fraction of the cultural impact that the iPhone had. Sorry.
  • Will Smith will outwork you.
  • Eminem will out-rap you.
  • You can’t keep up. Charlie Sheen does more blow in 36 hours than you’ll do in your entire life.
  • Oh, the club paid you $700 to DJ last night? Cute. Tiesto shuffled through his iTunes and got paid $250,000.
  • Put that protein shake down; Arnold had the best proportions ever. He’s also a 7-time Mr. Olympia winner, blockbuster movie star and former Governor of California.
  • You could be the first Latino, trans-gendered, disabled and atheist war veteran on the GOP ticket, but let’s face it – you still won’t have as much hype as Obama in ’08.
  • Your company doesn’t have what it takes to offer SnapChat $3 billion in cash.

So you could spend the rest of your life trying to be the next version of LeBron James, Mark Zuckerberg, or Oprah. But you’ll never be the next version of them, because they already ARE the next version of themselves. And you? You’ll always be, in the words of Don Draper, “in the rearview.” Therefore, stop it with the obsessive comparisons. The world doesn’t need the second LeBron James, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah, etc.
The world needs the first you.

“Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.” – Judy Garland