”Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Have you experienced it? You’re scrolling late at night and you see that friend with the perfect…everything…you sigh, feel like crap about yourself, grab another cocktail and keep scrolling. The experts call it ‘compare and despair’ and it’s rampant. We’ve all taken to social media since there is literally nothing else to do right? Well, let’s look at what’s really at play here, and explore some alternatives.
First, we all know that everyone, all of us, are going to great lengths to put our best images out there. Filters, ring lights, Zoom’s ‘touch up my appearance’, catchy captions. We want the world to know how awesome it is over here in our world. My husband is going to die, but let me illustrate with two photos:
- My beautiful new studio off the back of my garage
2. The back yard as a result of moving everything out so we could build it!
If we all just took a pause to acknowledge that this digital world we are living in is so far from reality, we might feel a little better about our imperfect and perfectly beautiful lives.
Brene Brown is quoted as saying, “vulnerability is the first thing we look for when connecting with another human being. And it’s the last thing we want others to see about us.” Our putting on the perfect image in hopes that we will be liked and approved of, is the very thing that is keeping us disconnected and separate.
What if we started showing each other the back yard, the junk drawer, the piled up laundry, the no filter?
I listened to a podcast this week with Tim Ferris, the 4-Hour work week guy. He gave the advice to “compare down”. When tempted to compare yourself to someone who seems to have it all together, do the opposite. He says if you’re feeling like you’re a bad parent, go to the grocery store and you will find that 80% of parents are way worse than you. I’m not sure that is true, my kids were pretty much nightmares in the grocery store. But my Grandmother put it in other words…”there is always someone better off than you in any area, and always someone worse off. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.”
I guess that’s where I want to go with this. We are all on a journey. I believe that each of us is doing the best we can, with what we have, and where we are. I honestly don’t think any human wakes up every morning and just decides to be a jerk. I choose to believe that in any given moment, I am right where I am supposed to be. Even the hard moments. Even the messy moments. This mess is my ministry for now. This challenge is where I can learn and grow. So why wouldn’t I share that? Why wouldn’t I let down the walls, and the filters and let you see my mess? Doesn’t that just make me more relatable? It does. But man it’s hard.
An irony is, I LOVE it when I go to a friends’ house, and their bathroom is dirty, or their dog is unruly, or their lawn hasn’t been mowed. I love knowing that I am not alone in not having the perfect life. It makes me want to hang out with that person more.
There’s a beautiful saying, “we’re all just walking each other home”. Can we go with that? Let’s just walk each other home. To our messy back yards, and sinks full of dishes, and kids who don’t get straight A’s. Let’s cut ourselves, and each other some slack. Comparison is the thief of joy. Vulnerability gives it back.