March 29, 2015

Comparison is the thief of joy? Yeah, but whose is getting stolen?

Oh! Hello there! What? You weren't expecting me? Well, what a nice surprise then, eh?

To say I’ve been stretched in a multitude of directions in the last several months is an understatement. We got married in October and our wedding came rushing upon us and papa was knee-deep in DIY. And when you’re in the midst of wedding projects and final details you need something to do with all of that "free time" you find yourself with, right? So, why not add a new full-time job to the list? Along with all of the legal matters concerning my mom. And, y’know, blogging. (Okay, maybe "blogging" is more accurate at the moment.) Oy. Veh. But somehow the balls still stayed in rotation [more or less] despite my inexperience at juggling on a professional circus level.

Honestly, though, how do we do it? Really? I know I’m not the only one. I know that the vast majority of us are balancing an inordinate number of things in our lives. Well, it seems that the vast majority of us are. Are we? Are you? And, if so, how are you with all of it? Are you amazed at your own skills? Exhausted? Ready to go off the grid and live in a cabin in the woods? All of the above?

There is no denying that 2014 was a rough year for me. 2013 wasn’t a great dance partner either. And, like many others I’m sure, I’m praying (i.e., PRAYING) that 2015 will be the turnaround year. I’ve experienced a lot in the last couple of years and I’ve learned a lot, too. I’m also pretty sure that there are more lessons percolating in the recesses of my being that have yet to reveal themselves.

Other things that have been happening... in the blogosphere and social media universe, it seems that a long-trending topic over the last many months has been that of comparing ourselves to others. (Well, that and pineapples sure had their year. I mean, what the...?!?) I’ve seen plenty of posts affirming, in one form or another, the fact that we’re all good enough and that we rob ourselves of our own happiness when we compare ourselves to others. True. But one aspect of the comparison game that I haven't seen discussed can be the tendency to feel that whatever we’re going through is infinitely worse than what others could possibly be dealing with in their lives. They have it the best of all while we're left with the worst of nothing. Seems par for the comparison course, yes? But there’s also a potential two-way rub that can emerge on that slippery slope.

It amazes me the extent to which some can make extraordinary assumptions about your life and assume the best in yours versus the worst in theirs. On one hand, I get it. On the other, I envision pulling a Cher in “Moonstruck” and smacking some people - “Snap out of it!” For example, I was fortunate enough to obtain some part-time employment after a looooong dry spell in the job hunt department after getting laid off in March 2013. I was grateful, to be sure, and it served me especially well when things went downhill with my mom. But it astonished me how some would selectively highlight the ease of my job and all the free time available in my work week - saying how I was “so lucky” (while implying they were not, of course) - yet completely disregard the fact that I was struggling to keep the bills paid, feeling increasingly dejected in my hunt for full-time work, along with handling the emotional turmoil of my mother’s illness. Lucky? Suddenly, “lucky” me found myself on the other side of the comparison game getting judged for having/getting “more” in light of their perceived “less.” “Comparison is the thief of joy,” they say? Yeah, but whose is getting stolen?

We all have areas in our lives where we experience feelings of lack. And, yes, comparing yourself to others can be treacherous territory to your well being and easily sap your strength. But I believe it also bears mentioning that it does no earthly good to judge or guilt-trip those you’re comparing yourself to - either in the privacy of your own head or, god forbid, to their face. If someone has something you wish you had then judging them in any capacity for having that something is really just tantamount to judging yourself and that’s not going to inspire you toward positive change. And in the process you stand to rob someone else of joy they have in their life that, by all accounts, you desire in your own. And what kind of sense does that make? That person who makes more money than you do? Maybe they've worked their asses off to put themselves in a position to be financially successful in a way you haven’t yet. The friend who always looks great in their oh-so-slim fitted clothes? Maybe they’re willing to make certain sacrifices in their life that you’re not willing to right now. You get my point. The thing is, our lives are deeply complex, multi-layered, and completely personal and reducing yourself and anyone else to a simplistic lucky vs. unlucky, rich vs. not so rich, thin vs. fat, etc. denies all of us our true depth of being. And it’s in the consideration of those depths and intricacies of our lives where the possibility lies to truly be able to learn what we can do for ourselves while simultaneously celebrating the joys and successes of others.

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