Monday, January 24, 2011

Compare Yourself

See that?
That was me. 
18 years old, certain I'd go to medical school, caring only for field hockey, boys, and food. Lots of food. All the time. 
I saw this picture today and longed to be back playing in that game, basking in that humid-hot sun, walking off the field bleeding and dirty... 
But I remembered that I hated my senior year and couldn't wait to be out of there the entire year. 
I love this picture.
I was buff from powerlifting all summer, super tan from lifeguarding, in the best shape ever, co-captain of my team, had the biggest beater of a car, cared little about school, ran 3-5 miles every other day...blahblahblah. 
Why am I bragging about this girl?
She for sure wouldn't be bragging about herself. 
Because I'm jealous. 
Yet, at that time, her self-esteem was little to none. She hated that she weighed as much as most of her guy friends, the fact that the only clothing she was comfortable wearing were the sweatsuits her teams ordered each season, had an ugly car, couldn't keep a boyfriend for more than 2 weeks, and so on. 
I'm sure that if that girl knew that her 4.5 year later self--married, graduated, and pregnant--would be jealous of her, she'd about piss herself. 
Why am I jealous of her? 
Because I'm incompletely comparing myself to her. 
We women are harsh on ourselves, aren't we? 
We compare our little "imperfections" to the qualities of others to determine if we measure up, if they're totally "better" than us, or if we're totally "better" than them. 
But as far as I'm concerned, if we're going to put ourselves in the dangerous position of comparing ourselves to those around us, we'd better be pretty thorough in our comparing. 
Because when we compare ourselves to others, we always compare that person's best to our worst
And once we determine that their best is far better than our worst, we declare that they are better than us and we are only left to be jealous, while avoiding them entirely and punching a golfball-sized hole in our guts.
It's silly, right?
Take this instance: 
A woman spends hours and hours of a year finding the perfect recipe and perfect way to bake the perfect loaf of bread. After long days of sweating over a hot oven, throwing out thousands of failures, and crying in the corner, she finally does indeed perfect herself in the art. She feels excited, proud, and accomplished. So, she decides to share with her neighbors. 
Susie next door receives one of these gorgeous loaves of golden brown bread, takes a bite, and realizes that perfect Molly's loaf tastes like something from a dream. 
Susie immediately compares this lump of heaven to what she could bake for her family and realized that her own ability was limited to baking a flat, dense, grainy brick of wheat that ended up barely eaten and ultimately thrown in the trash. 
What's more? 
Susie's husband came home that night, took a slice of Molly's bread, and stated, "Wow hunny, Molly really knows what she's doing." 
Get the picture? 
How does Susie feel? 
Like she could never measure up to Molly in not only bread making, but anything Molly endeavored to accomplish. To Susie, Molly was perfect, and Susie couldn't stand her. 
But all the while the reason why Molly tried perfecting her loaf of bread was because she had tried for years and years to master chocolate chip cookies like Susie had, but accepted defeat and moved onto something else. 
We are all silly, aren't we? 
Next time, instead of comparing yourself to someone else's hard earned and practiced talents, fitness, belongings, etc., admire their ability to do so and your own personal ability to master other things that are equally admirable.
Kind of the typical Mormon-Mom example, but it works. 
One of Satan's greatest tools is to have us accept our own defeat as a person, limiting our desire and belief in ourselves to progress and become better. He would love more than anything to have us pine away in a lonely corner about how wonderful Molly's bread is, how stupid we are for not being able to make it as good as she does, and totally forget how to bake chocolate chip cookies altogether. 
That's lame. 


alyssa said...

hey i really liked this post, thanks britney.

amber said...

I always do this. I look back on pictures of my old self and think, I was so thin! And then I think back to the time and did I think I looked good? Nope. :)

ROS said...

Wow, I really loved this post. Enlightening!

Natalie Daniel said...

I'm going to post a link of this. And just so you know, I think your way more hot pasty white with a big belly. I would have been scared of the girl in the pic, she looks like she could hurt me.