One of the most difficult hurdles that we as golfers (and people) face is comparing ourselves to others. There are so many ways we measure ourselves up against others. Age is a major version of this. "That person is also 29 and they are this level or shoot these scores or they are having this level of success... and I'm not."
While measuring yourself against others can help you gauge improvement, such as state rankings, scoring average, handicap, driving distance, etc., it can also lead to wishing you could play like them, or think that because they're at this level at this age then of course you should be too.
This can cause anxiety, stress, frustration, lack of motivation, questioning the value of hard work, or maybe even quitting.
I'm not making this stuff up. I'm talking very much from personal experience. As someone who spent the better part of 25 years comparing myself to others and wishing I was on their timeline of improvement and progress, I know the effects that comparison mentality can have. I would think things like "If they're this good already, and we're the same age, then how could I ever expect to be better than them or beat them in a tournament?" Or "If everybody else is this good already then how will I ever get a golf scholarship." Or even what I'm going through now: "I'm 29 and have only just started my business of mental coaching and am only just now learning, while so many people have been in the golf industry since they got out of school at 21. How can I ever expect to be successful?" In my weak moments I really say these things to myself.
So how do we combat this mentality? How do we help ourselves when we are comparing ourselves to other people's timeline?
We have to speak the truth to ourselves. Whatever circumstances we have in our lives, only we have them, no one else. We are working hard and trying to win every day, so who really cares what other people are doing with their time? If we look back, we can most likely say that we've improved too. Maybe not in all the areas we'd like, but there are some areas that we have improved, even if it's just our maturity or perspective on life.
And this may sound harsh, but when you're down maybe you need a little kick in the behind. We need to realize that most likely no one else really cares about our progress. Most people are too busy being absorbed in comparing themselves to others too. In other words, we all really just care about ourselves. So remind yourself of that the next time you're comparing yourself to someone else's timeline of improvement or worrying what other people think of you.
We all fall into this trap of comparing ourselves to others. But to stop the downward spiral, preach the truth to yourself. You're working hard. You're doing what you can to deal with your current circumstances. You're focusing on your controllables and letting go of the uncontrollables.
These things can relieve so much weight that you've held on your shoulders for so long, and will help you to move through life and golf much more freely.