“The invitations you sent out for Sammy’s birthday were so cute,” a friend complimented at a recent play date. “It is so sweet that you are doing a themed party. It makes me think that we should put more effort into our children’s birthday parties. They are so inadequate.”
“Um . . . thank you.” I stammered. “I wasn’t originally planning on doing a theme, but Sammy asked me and wanted to be very involved in the planning. It entertained him and kept him out of trouble when we designed the invitations together. I totally wouldn’t have done it if he wasn’t so interested. And you are selling yourself short! We all have a lot of fun at the birthday parties you host. There is nothing superior about having a themed party, especially if it drives you crazy in the process!”
This type of conversation has recurred a few more times in recent weeks with different friends and over different topics. One friend pondered whether home made Halloween costumes were superior to store bought. Another claimed she was “unmotivated” for not working on organizing her sewing and crafting supplies and fixing up her house (while pregnant).
Throughout each conversation I was puzzled as to why they were judging themselves so harshly.
Don’t they know??? Don’t they know that I compare myself with them and find that I come up lacking? One friend is in great shape, another incredibly intelligent (and an AMAZING cook), a third is an engaging teacher, who really invests herself in her students. There are so many things that they are doing better than me.
Don’t they see how talented they are?
In the comparison game everyone eventually leaves a looser, distracted from using all of their unique talents and qualities.
No one has the time or capacity to be good at everything, no matter how it might appear on the outside or from one’s carefully controlled internet presence. Time spent on one thing is time not spent on another. We need to invest our time wisely and prioritize it on the things that play to our strengths.
So, please my friends (both in real life, or online), please don’t spend your energy regretting all of the things that you aren’t doing (or aren’t doing as well as someone else), and instead reflect on your gifts and use them in all the ways that only you can. If you enjoy planning themed birthday parties with your kids, or sewing them costumes, that’s great. If you don’t enjoy doing these things, then that is awesome too, and nothing to be ashamed about.
You are an amazing unrepeatable individual. You have a combination of talents, dreams and passions that has not been seen previously in history. You have been put on this earth for a purpose and have a mission no one else can accomplish. Please don’t spend your time comparing yourself to others.
You are capable of doing great things. You are doing great things. Even if it is something as simple as selflessly giving to your loved ones day in and day out or as small as keeping your cool when the toddler has drawn on the wall with a permanent marker. Especially then.
The most important part of “greatness” is loving without counting the cost.
And that my friends is something I see you doing incomparably well.
So true! I’m afraid I get impatient when people (women, usually) start tearing themselves down or doing the comparison thing. I know usually they’re not consciously fishing for compliments, but it feels that way. I’m just like, “yeah, yeah, whatever; let’s move on.”
There are definitely times I know that I have pulled that stunt of criticizing myself to fish for compliments. More and more though I think these conversations are coming up because of the hyper-conected and super visual world we live in. People have an almost endless stream of options of people, or aspects of people’s lives to compare themselves. I know I have to keep my feelings of inferiority in check when I read certain blogs. I love the blogs that keep it real (such as yours). I remember there was one home decor blog that I followed, in which the woman said she was going to keep it real and show the “messy side” of the room she was photographing: three magazine’s and two letters on the dining room table. . . even her mess looked staged. I unsubscribed from her after that post.