From the moment we are born comparisons are made. Everything from how long it takes us to say our first words, to the amount we party as teenagers to the age we do or do not marry seems to be compared to those around us. We are either better or not as good; never just different. I can clearly remember comparisons being made at a young age right through to my late teens; a ‘grown up’ once announce me to be the least attractive of my siblings, lucky they aren’t a close relative or friend of mine or that may have made things even more awkward … and we can probably blame a few too many beverages for the far from sensitive comment. Nevertheless, that moment stuck with me. fast forward and as a grown up myself I found myself comparing myself to others on a frequent basis; I’m not as clever as her, as witty as him, as pretty as her… so on and so on… until I just stopped. And I feel all the better for it.
The want to compare ourselves and other seems to be inbuilt into our social norms. I saw it a lot when I worked with children, parents willing their children to be the same as others or to surpass them, worry if they didn’t match their peers. Now I’m not talking about the usual developmental mile stones we need to monitor in children. I’m talking everything in between. I’ve seen small children express their self-worth based on how they compare themselves to each other and seen teenagers compare themselves to social media icons.
Social Media I suppose is a culprit, we see the best of people, their best foot forward, the shinny parts of their life. In our weak moments I suppose we can be tricked into believe that that is a true reflection of them in their entirety. We forget that no one posts the picture of their 6 am, no makeup, tiered, stressed self … because why would they? You can’t put a representation of you on your worst day next to them on their best day and compare them. That’s just punishment that you and your self-esteem don’t need and it does no one any good. As soon as I stopped comparing myself I started enjoying it a lot more. I started putting things it to perspective. And as a pleasant result I started enjoying those little square of artistry on those popular Instagram feeds. They became so much more enjoyable when I reminded myself – it’s the best part of someone’s life/home/self. And my best side is just as fulfilling for me; if taken on a slightly less fancy camera, with a lot less artistic talent. The realisation that a better budget, better eye for colour and contrast and a smarter camera doesn’t make them any better than I am as a person is important. Well for me any way. I can’t compare our live as they are just incomparable… they are so different. I love everything I share on those little squares and I love my little life. I also enjoy that little window into theirs.
“I’m not as thin, pretty, fashionable or cool as her” use to play on my mind all the time. Comparing my looks to others almost ruined my life – very dramatic but true. I was letting it make me ill, make me depressed and sad. Yes I’m aware it sound incredibly melodramatic but that’s how it was and I cant pretend any differently. I would compare how I looked to everyone and it would wear me down and make me hate myself. If it wasn’t my looks it was how I dressed. I would then try to dress/look differently and hate myself even more – a never ending circle of ridiculousness . A few years ago, I decided enough was enough and took a lot of time training my brain to not automatically make these comparisons. It took a bit of time but did me a world of good; Every now and then a bit of comparison squeezes into my psyche, especially when that dress looks nothing like it did on the model, and in that moment I have to remind myself that I’m just different to that model. We unfortunately live in a world where people find it OK to draw comparisons between individuals especially in the way they look. Glossy Magazines love a “who wore it best” so its no surprise that it’s a social norm to critically compare each other… sometimes to the point of cruelty. Personally I would ban “Who wore it best” articles and anything like it but that’s the anarchist in me, anyway they would just find another way to compare these woman and men.
I’m not perfect but I am me.
I’m as un cool as it comes, I have always been. I’m married, with a pooch and live in a small army town in an army house. I’m definitely not a social butterfly so forcing myself to be won’t do me any good. I prefer a day with the hubby to a night on the dance floor. When I walk the dog at 5:30am I look a bit like a scarecrow (and I really don’t care) and I’m dramatic. I’m much more comfortable in wellies than I am heels and I’m defiantly not fashionable. So you cant compare me to a stylish, single Londer who lives in a cool pet free pent house and spends her weekends drinking cocktails with her girl pals in a new pair of shinny heels in a packed Bar. We are different, incomparable, but neither is better than the other. It’s so easy to forget how different we are and so easy to forget how different our lives are. I have to remind myself now and again that : It’s a wonderful life – a different- but wonderful life. It’s easy to over look how wonderful your life is when you draw comparison. We have had a rough year so there are no holidays or trips away. A poorly hubby and a house move have gotten in the way of that. But that doesn’t mean that my life isn’t fabulous in its own right. But comparing my life to someone else’s can drawn out the glory focusing on the fancy holiday of someone else can make me forget the wonderful woodland walks and movie night with the Hubby. Things that I would never trade… even for the fanciest holiday.
Not a glamorous life but the perfect life for me
I’ve started seeing life like a run: our success and failures are our own – its’ so easy to compare but pointless to do so. Like many runners now and again my training isn’t great. Other times its amazing and I’m smashing out personal best and covering great distances. Sometimes I’m on my 5th chocolate bar and haven’t moved from the sofa in 4 hours. So when I race no matter what my training schedule has been I can’t compare my time to the runner next to me, ahead of me or behind me. Different things have lead us to running that race, we have all had different schedules, different trainers, we ate a different breakfast, have different injuries, have different genetic predispositions to running and trained on different routes. And so our achievement has nothing to do with our running mates. We can’t compare it when so may variables brought us to cross the finishing line at that time.
It’s taken me 26 years to realise that nobody compares to me, I am unique. No one will have the same cocktail of flaws, strengths, weaknesses and quirks as me. no one will have the same dreams, hopes and wishes. We are all so different and therefore cannot be compared. You won’t find another individual like me, and I won’t find another person like you. You are a snow flake, a finger print or sunset. There has never been anyone just like you and there never will be again. So enjoy it, and enjoy others for the same reason.