Here is what happened when I stopped comparing myself to my famous father

To: Those who feel like they have a lot to live up to,

From: Kyle Hughley (As told to Lauren Brill)

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To those who feel like they have a lot to live up to, 

President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

I couldn’t agree more. 

The first time I had any idea that my father was famous, I was ten years old. My dad is comedian D.L. Hughley. Back in 1999, he was also the voice of the gadget mobile in the movie Inspector Gadget with Matthew Broderick. Disney produced the film and invited my family on an all-expense-paid vacation to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Every day on the trip, we went to the parks where we had a tour guide. We skipped all the lines and went through the back entrances for the rides and exhibits. Also, we got to eat at nice restaurants. That was my first real taste of my life being different than other kids. 

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In high school, my dad’s fame became more apparent. Other kids would ask me if I could get them free tickets to a comedy club, movie premiere, or an awards show that my dad was hosting.  At least once a week, I would be heckled by somebody who wanted to see if I could get them an autograph. At times, it was hard to tell who genuinely wanted to be my friend and who just wanted to get close to my dad.

I started to feel as though I had to be as successful as my father or even better than him. 

I started to feel as though I had to be as successful as my father or even better than him.

However, when I was a kid, I didn’t feel I was talented at anything. I didn’t think I was particularly special, as I saw myself as painfully average. Those feelings made me think that I was in some way broken. 

Also, I was very shy and insecure. I didn’t know how to talk to people, including girls, which led me to a breaking point. 

There was this one girl that I had my eye on. We were talking for a bit. It seemed like we were hitting it off. 

So, I asked her, “Do you want to go out on a date with me sometime?”

She responded with one of the two answers I heard over and over from women.

Either, “I have a boyfriend already.” or “You seem like a nice guy, but I don’t think of you like that.”

The combination of the constant rejection with already not feeling good enough made me feel dead inside. 

That depression led to feelings of hopelessness. For several months, I didn’t get out of bed and I barely brushed my teeth or showered. I couldn’t even eat or cry.

I felt useless, worthless and like I would never amount to anything. That’s when I wanted to give up. That’s when I wanted to kill myself.

Once, I considered driving off a cliff in Hollywood. Another time, I grabbed a kitchen knife and I thought about slitting my wrists. The only thing that stopped me was the idea of my mother finding me. It would have destroyed her. 

I didn’t truly want to die, but I didn’t want to be in pain anymore. 

If you ever feel this way, too,  I want you to know it can get better. It did for me. 

In 2014, when I was 25 and at my lowest point, my dad told me to come work for him – partly as a way to keep an eye on me and partly because I needed a job. The opportunity opened my eyes to the kind of work ethic my father demands out of his employees.

Kyle with his father, D.L. Hughley.

It motivated me to step up.

I worked my butt off and I was very consistent, getting to work before everyone else and making sure everything was ready for people once they arrived. As I contributed more and more, I started to feel like I was actually pretty good at something. 

One day, my dad pulled me aside and told me, “I’m so proud of you. Look how far you have come.”

That was the moment I started to feel better, as I began to feel like I mattered. 

Through the years, I moved up. Initially, I was an intern and then, I became a production assistant.  Now, I am a soundboard operator. I am part of a team where I have met many cool people and have made great friends.

Kyle’s life change when he started working with his dad.

Also, I went to therapy. Today, I am more comfortable reaching out to people and telling them how I feel or what I think. 

In 2016, I started consistently lifting weights, and I fell in love with it. It improved my self-confidence, as I began to like what I saw in the mirror. Also, it gave me an outlet for those rough days. It’s a place where I can release the stress of everyday life. 

Martial arts has always been a passion of mine and for years I wanted to step inside the ring.  As I grew more confident, I gained the courage to achieve that goal and I fought in the ring three times. 

While I still have moments where I feel like I’m not good enough or not special enough, I now know how to step out of those moments and stop looking for validation from other people. Instead, I focus on what makes me feel happy and fulfilled. 

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I fought my ass off to be where I am today. 

Recently I saw a meme that said, “It took me a very long time to love myself. I don’t have time to convince anybody else.”

All the struggle that I have gone through has made me stronger and more resilient to other people’s opinions.

I decide who I am and what I want from life. I don’t need to measure my success or happiness by anyone’s standards except my own. 

My advice to you is don’t compare yourself to other people. We’re all different. We’re all unique in our own way. Pursue the friends, jobs and hobbies that make you feel good. Let your heart guide you, as opposed to other people’s expectations.  

What the last seven years have taught me is that if you want to be “good enough,” if you want to find joy in life, you don’t have to be better than anyone. You simply have to be yourself. 

You are more than worthy! 

Kyle Hughley
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