I found my person.
You know, the one who posts fabulous pictures on Facebook and Instagram of her fantastic life, effortlessly maintaining my dream job and doing epic things with her many stylish friends. Every day looks like a good hair day. I get bitter just thinking about it.
It took me 19.5 years, but I found her. Slim and trim, athletic, stylish, friendly. Higher up in the writing world. Thriving life on campus with a group of awesome friends, all of whom I adore. (The worst part is that she’s actually a great person with a tender heart and snappy sense of humor, so I can’t even hate her. How horrible am I that I wish I could hate her?) Basically, I measure myself and fall short in every area, and this is the first time I have ever felt so inadequate.
After all of the years of youth group talks I heard and articles I read about comparison and its deadliness, I never truly understood until I experienced the sinking feeling of Facebook stalking someone who is out. of. your. league. If I am a level 10, she is a level 25 – not so unreasonable that I can remind myself of how impossible her life is, but just impressive enough to make me wonder why doesn’t my life look like that?
It sucked. Man, it really sucked. I have never felt so low.
Then I wondered, how can I battle this? No obvious solution remained in sight. Normally I might look for something I have that she doesn’t (there’s always something, right?), but there was nothing. Literally nothing.
Stripped to the bare bones of who I am, I realized: I just have to love me. Not for what I’m good at or what my GPA is or what extracurriculars I do or the fact that I am incredibly proud of my 80s rock playlist.
I have to love me because there is literally no one else on this planet like me. No one has been through the same crap, no one has hit rock bottom at the same angle. No one pulled themselves out with mint chip ice cream and The Hawk and the Dove, and daily lives on a diet of slam poetry and 70s disco. No one smiles with their entire face like I do. Besides me.
And even if they did, they still wouldn’t be me. No one, and I mean absolutely no one shares the same unique life experiences and lessons that I have experienced. I am one of a kind. And I have to learn to love that, even if I wanted to be a different one in the million.
Here’s the truth, friend: comparison isn’t inherently bad. It’s our instinct to gauge where we should be headed based on the paths of others who are walking alongside us. Without any kind of comparisons, we couldn’t chart the average amount of kids that are illiterate or what should be considered minimum wage for a state or country. Some of the things that are used to help us require comparisons.
However, for all intents and purposes in this case, comparison is horrible. We take it to a whole new extreme when we compare pant sizes, talents, personalities, photogenics, children, and salary. We turn each other into our competition, instead of working alongside each other to bring quality and meaning into our lives.
There will be times when we’re the top dog, and those days are fabulous. But there will also be days when we don’t feel like we measure up. Someone is pursuing your dream job and winning at it, or is a part of the group of friends you wish you had. Maybe her baby weight came right off. Maybe she just seems so happy, and your life feels devoid of what hers is brimming with.
When I thought long and hard about why this girl was like a thorn in my side, I realized it was because she was excelling in all the areas I already felt like I was failing. Before I ever looked at her Facebook page, I felt like a failure. It really wasn’t because of her at all. I felt ashamed that I wasn’t more successful as a writer, I felt insecure socially (being introverted in college is tough), I felt uninvolved on campus, and I felt left out. By comparing myself to her, I was preying on all of my insecurities.
You can blame Facebook or social media or whatever you want, but the heart issue really lies with us. Before we can stop comparing ourselves, we have to accept who we really are – warts and all. I am not a princess in a castle or a face in a photo. I am a real, breathing, feeling, messy human being. And that is OKAY. You are acceptable. You are worth the effort.
You’re not doing yourself any favors by lying to yourself. You’re only putting off the inevitable crash that will ensue. Instead, ease yourself into the idea of loving you.
Start with forgiving yourself. Give yourself permission to exist as you are. And that will be the groundwork for what is to come.