I’ve seen arguments both ways, supporting and protesting Theodore Roosevelt’s famous quote and it’s validity.
But I’m going to have to speak from personal experiences and say I’m whole-heatedly in support of this quote. Comparison IS the thief of joy. Oh, it’s so easy to just look at what other people possess, have accomplished and simply have what you don’t have and get upset about it. It’s even easier to start into that “why me” game I’ve written about before after seeing these things. But what can we do about it?
The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, though it may seem that way.
I think we can start by telling ourselves that we never know what anyone else is going through without being put in their shoes. People’s lives may seem so perfect from the outside but you just never know what they are experiencing, their struggles or their challenges. It’s especially hard to not compare with the social media driven world we now live in, which makes it SO easy to look like we all have it together. You know what I’m talking about, that perfect family picture in matching outfits on Easter Sunday morning but behind the scenes it actually took 45 minutes and a lot of tears and bribing to actually get it taken. Or the post about someones promotion that they received at a company that you’ve always dreamed of working for but then again, you don’t know the countless hours of hard work and sacrifices they may have made to get there. How about that picture your friend posts from a bungalow in the crystal clear waters of the Maldives… okay, never mind. That one you’re totally entitled to be jealous of.
Just an FYI – I do not claim to have all of the answers or anything tangible to help in this situation for that matter. But I try to make it better.
So, I guess suggestion number one is “try putting yourself in others shoes”. Suggestion number two in beating the comparison game, is don’t look at it. Yup… I’m super intuitive. I’ve been practicing this one A LOT recently. It’s simple, if you don’t like it then don’t look at it. Don’t get me wrong, I think social media is great. I love that I can promote my business and stay connected to family and friends in different parts of the country. But if there is just something that is hard for you to see and you just can’t help but compare yourself to it… then just don’t follow them. Out of sight, out of mind! It’s fabulous, let me tell you.
Suggestion Number Three… what could it be?
My third suggestion is to make a list of everything you have! Everything you’ve accomplished or that you’re proud of! And you can do this more than once, try it every time you start to feel that little green monster sneaking in and stealing your joy. Most of the time, your list changes, evolves and most importantly GROWS! Save your past lists and COMPARE yourself to yourself, not others. Then you can clearly see where you started, like Drake says, “started from the bottom and now we’re here.”
Lastly, my fourth and final suggestion is to take the time to learn more about others. Take the time to ask questions, to make that phone call and catch up and to schedule that long awaited lunch with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile. Make yourself available to talk to that friend in need or lean on your family and friends when you personally need that little extra pep talk. Relationships are everything. The more you learn about others, the less you feel compelled to compare yourself to them. At least, this has held true in MOST (not all) of my experiences. And I do have to jump on my soapbox for one hot second! (I plan to expand on this in another blog post) I feel like I’ve learned recently that “moms” nowadays are the worst at this! The “mom-shaming” game is intense right now and I just don’t understand. Aren’t we all on the same team? We all compare ourselves to other moms, to mom blogs and we group ourselves into these categories. “Moms who breastfeed”, “Moms who formula feed”, “Moms who had natural births”, “Moms who had an epidural”, “Moms who had a C-section”, “Moms who wear their babies”, “Moms who do baby led weaning”, “Moms who spoon feed” and OH MY GOODNESS THE LIST IS SERIOUSLY ENDLESS. Well, I like this group, “Moms who just want to be good moms, no matter how they choose to do it”. And I never even knew that this world existed until I became a mom. And I think it’s ridiculous!
Let’s just celebrate all moms, no matter how you “mom”. Yes, please!
Off my soapbox now, sorry for that minor sidetrack. But on the same topic of being a mom, this is honestly where I do struggle the most with the comparison game. But it’s not even about how I parent my child or comparing myself to others parenting styles. It’s all about comparing my child to other children. Because when you have a child, it’s no longer about you, it’s about them. Then you have a child with special needs… and you don’t even know how to go about being a parent who doesn’t compare them to others. A sweet, sweet friend of friend came into our home to teach us about infant massage. We had heard the great benefits of massage for the growth and development of our little one, so I jumped right on it! In our time together, she shared with me the most amazing poem. This poem really REALLY helped me not only put things into perspective for myself but also gave me a perfect avenue to help explain to others how we felt and why it was so hard to not play that dreadful comparison game.
Poem by Emily Perl Kingsley – Welcome to Holland
“I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this…
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the Michelangelo David, the gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.” “Holland?!” you say. “What do you mean, Holland?” I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy. But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to some horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place. So you must go out and buy a new guidebook. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.” The pain of that will never, ever, go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.
But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.”
Good, right? I know. It made so much sense in my mind.
So, do I have it all figured out? Nope. Do I still get stuck comparing? Yup. Is it so hard not to compare when my 7 month old baby still can’t roll over or sit up on his own? YUP. Is is even harder when you see other babies out there around his age doing all of that and more, all that your child can’t do? Pardon my language but HELL YES. But I’m in Holland and they are in Italy. We are in two totally completely different places and that is OKAY. That is not comparable because Holland is not Italy and will never be Italy. So, in the meantime, I will be busy finding my joy in Holland.
Remember, it’s always okay to be “unfine”.