Monday, September 12, 2016

The Joys of Comparison

How ironic is that title, right?

My seventh grade note-books with friends are filled with my sarcastic responses of "oh joy" whenever things were less than wonderful. And with that same sarcastic tone I typed the title of this post because, in my life, I have found this quote from Teddy Roosevelt to be spot on.

Standing in the bathroom with sweat running down my face. Out of breath and needing to change quickly to get to my job, my Fitbit vibrated. Instinctively I grabbed my phone and checked my new messages. Exclamation points and smiley faces filled my screen as I read my friend's delighted news about a new trip she and her husband were going on. Text after text of itinerary changes and upgrades in every possible way filled my screen.

Just ten minutes before these texts I was finishing up cutting the grass with my lawnmower - that has no self propel and has been on it's last leg for three summers now but I'm far too broke to shell out for a new one at the moment, so I make it work. As I shut the door and locked it up, I reached up to move a branch that kept touching my head. Only, there was no branch. Something was IN my hair. I swatted it, thinking it was part of the pine tree that had fallen into my hair, it didn't move. Then the terrifying sound of loud buzzing filled my ears. I ran in the house and yes. A wasp. A WASP WAS IN MY HAIR!

Not wanting it to get loose in my house and set my cats after it, I ran back outside and into the front yard, somehow grabbing one of the old pee-hats from my recent kidney stone removal surgeries on the way out the door to bat against my hair in an attempt to rid myself of the beast. After several attempts at hitting myself in the head with an old pee-hat while on a semi-busy street, the wasp was gone and I was back indoors, catching my breathe, still dripping in sweat, and now entering a mad dash to get back to work.

And then the texts came.

Why is it always when I'm in the middle a parking lot with a flat tire, using all my might to turn the lug nuts, or when I'm looking at my increasing medical bills that are stacking up daily on my table, that I get the message from a friend telling me of something incredible that's going on in their life?

Unlike a lot of people I know who struggle with celebrating the success of others (it's very real and I know a lot of friends who struggle with feeling happy when good things happen to others - it's part of human nature!), my difficultly comes after the celebration. Realizing the shades of gray that my life are compared to the vibrant colors of everyone else's can sometimes put me in a funk. See, I genuinely rejoice in the blessings that come to the lives of others. But sometimes I find comparison creeping closely behind, reminding me of my struggles.

When this happens you can fight it, or whine about it. You can let comparison take you down the road of feeling more and more like a failure or you can focus your head back into your own game. Some rounds are much easier than others, let me tell you!

Recently I deactivated my social media account for this reason. While going through one of the biggest trials of my life - 2 surgeries in 21 days, I was inundated with everyone else's amazing posts. While I was writhing in pain, I saw others on extravagant vacations, or having their dream weddings, or buying new cars and clothes, all while I was wondering how I'd be able to pay rent or just buy food for dinner. It wasn't that I didn't delight with the joys in my friends lives. On the contrary, it was the fact that I felt in my stomach that I was comparing my snapshot to their highlight reels. And all I wanted to do was vent, whine, and feel sorry for myself. In order to save myself from that road, I deleted my account and decided to focus on myself for awhile!

My life seems to be a constant serious of unfortunate events most of the time. But I'm blessed that in the midst of the storms God always shows me the rainbow. There's hope. There's beauty in the process of navigating through this life - whatever your lot may be.

Maybe I'm the only one who struggles with feeling like they don't quite fit into the line up. I've always been that square peg trying to fit into the circle's slot. All I know is that come what may, I wasn't created to just fit in. My life wasn't created to demonstrate the same things as yours, or my neighbors. The chapters in my book are muddy, messy, a bit smudged or torn on the corners, and some are a little disturbing at times. But they are me. Perhaps my life seems like a highlight reel to someone else. I'm not sure who would be that nuts though!  Ha ha ha!

The joy of comparison is that it's totally up to you what you do with the information you're given. You can either let it define you, rule you, or shrug it off and move on. I choose to move along.


  1. I'm not saying I take pleasure in the misfortunes (misadventures) of others - well, most others - but I find it comforting to remember that everyone has struggles and problems. It's just that some people put them out there for others to see, and some don't. Some are more serious than others, and many are things you wouldn't ever imagine. I'll bet a bunch of people read your entry and think, "Oh good, it's not just me!"

  2. Yes! It's so true. I hope that is what people think.