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There’s Only One You

Have you seen a current commercial for almond milk where a very average middle age man is swimming his own personal best in a pool, doing the butterfly stroke when Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps appears in the water in the next lane? The man tells Phelps ‘stop butterflying!’, that this is his quest and he won’t allow comparison, and Michael is banished from the pool. Michael, I love you, but stop because “this is Greg’s story,” says the off-camera voice referring to the other man. The commercial made me laugh out loud but it also made me think how it might resonate with people who constantly fight to not be compared to others.

Comparing ourselves to others

In the world of multiple sclerosis, it is very easy to slip into thinking ‘she has it worse’ or questioning ‘why can he do so much more than me?’ instead of focusing solely on our own progress and efforts. It’s a dangerous mental game that we often play with ourselves – comparing our own disease with that of others. It’s similar to the mental game of wondering who is prettier, who has more money or who has more of anything that undermines confidence and our own happiness. The reality is there will always be someone with more and someone with less, and knowing where we fall into that picture is of no benefit to our health and wellbeing.

Education is key

How do we keep from doing this? For one thing, I recommend education.  The more you know about MS the more the reality of how different it is from one person to the next becomes clear. There are many types of MS, and even more sub-types. Then there are people who are in different phases of the disease with their own treatment. Just like those snowflakes, there are no two people with MS the same – we are all affected differently.

Being ourselves

We also have to allow ourselves to acknowledge we don’t need to be physically worse or better than others for our own struggles with MS to have an impact in our life. It seems to be ingrained in human thinking to want to compare and that can be damaging to ourselves and others. We can be our best living with MS, whatever form that might take, and not worry if that is good enough compared to others.

I know this all sounds simple but we need to be like Greg in that commercial and kick Michael out of the pool and be our own champion. Keep in mind that just like there’s only one Michael Phelps, there is also only one of you.

Wishing you well,


This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • joannmaxwell
    1 year ago

    I like the analogy of being like a snowflake. First of all I love snow, but also each snowflake is one of a kind. And they’re all beautiful. As we deal with multiple sclerosis symptoms day in and day out, we become even more beautiful through the trials and tribulations to find victory.

  • Julie
    1 year ago

    When I was first DX’d my mom called me very excited and told me that her sister has a friend at her church that has MS and she lives a perfectly normal life! I look back at that 18 years ago and think mom was just looking for a happy life for our daughter. Don’t all of us moms?

    I have found myself irritated at magazines that portray MS’ers climbing mountains, running marathons, biking cross country, etc. Now I have to just tell myself that I’m glad there are those that can still do these things. Really, I am. I just worry it portrays others with more severe problems as being lazy. (I’ve heard people say this).

    I try not to wish I could do what that person can do. It’s hard at times. I do like Kim’s adage though. “comparison is the thief of joy”. I will have to remember this.

  • Meagan Heidelberg moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi Julie! Thank you for sharing with us. You’re certainly not alone! Kim’s adage really is a great one.
    Best – Meagan, Team Member

  • MarcieKim
    1 year ago

    So true, Laura. There’s an old adage, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

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