image via Pinterest but I can’t find the original source. If you know it let me know eh?
You’ve seen this one making the rounds. Inspiring introspective blog post after introspective blog post. “I used to find myself lacking in comparison!” “I compared myself all the time!” “BUT NOT ANYMORE! I won’t compare myself to her or them or that…”
I am about to blow your mind. I think this quote is bullshit.
I appreciate the sentiment, of course I do, do I find myself feeling less than or like a failure because my life doesn’t look like someone else’s? Of course. That’s human nature.
But you know what is also human nature? Comparing ourselves. And not because we want to wallow in our pitfalls, we compare ourselves so we can move forward, learn new things, improve our lot. (And for a hardcore liberal Democrat to be saying something that sounds like “bootstraps” you know that I take this concept seriously!)
Comparison is an opportunity to see something you admire and learn about it, and go for it, and strive. If we simply view it as a “thief of joy” we remain complacent, we hold where we are now up as the highest standard… and I refuse to accept that.
I speak from a place of staggering privilege, I am fully aware that I can change my education level by going to college, I can change my income level by getting a job, I am a fairly well educated white woman in the United States. These tangibles, these changes require outside forces beyond our control, other people rooting for us and helping us out. If I compare myself to a woman with a Master’s Degree in Divinity, I can take comfort in the fact that I need only fill out a FAFSA and apply to a school and because I am a fairly well educated though not particularly well off white woman in the United States, I can get that degree. I get that concept.
But I also speak of the intangibles. I speak of the years I spent languishing in crippling anxiety because I didn’t fight to have my meds adjusted because it was scary to be my own advocate, the days when I don’t feel beautiful or styled or fashionable even with my husband grabbbing my ass and telling me how sexy I am. I speak of the times I feel like I am not the best parent because I don’t have a million projects planned and photographed with my kids when I’ve got chalk and a porch right there. It’s these things, it’s embracing the drive and focus, it’s looking at what other people have and saying “I want to be there, what do I have to do to get there?” These comparisons allow us to work at ourselves. They provide benchmarks for what we view as success and then urge us on to more. It’s fighting for your best self, understanding your best self and loving the hell out of it because you worked so hard to get there.
Look, there are things in this life that you are never gonna have. That’s a given. You might not get them because you look a certain way or believe a certain thing or make a specific amount of money. You might not get them because they are just outside of your capabilities as a human being. We can’t do and be everything, no matter what line of crap we were sold as kids.
We CAN be the best version of ourselves. We can listen to our bodies and our hearts and believe ourselves capable of great things. We can see something that we want and say “I can get there, I KNOW IT” and fight to do it. We can look at our shortcomings not as failures but as opportunities to learn about ourselves and others.
That’s what comparison is about. It is looking at another persons story and jumping in. Hearing it and learning from it. It’s about looking at our own story and not seeing it as flawed but as being continually told with every opportunity to add to it.
Comparison may be the thief of joy for some, but for me it’s the instigator of inspiration, the spark towards learning, comparison is the opportunity to become something marvelous.