We all know women struggle with comparison. Though men do so as well, it seems to be more prevalent – or maybe more intense- among us girls.
What’s up with this?
I think part of it is that we want to be better. We want to grow, we want to improve. So we seek guidance outside of ourselves in the form of other women. We want to be in better shape so we look at the women who we think appear to be fit and pay attention to what they do to achieve that. We want to be well-dressed so we look to someone who has good style and try to imitate that. We want to be good mothers/daughters/wives/employees so we seek women who embody that.
This is a beautiful desire. We should always be learning, growing and improving. Learning to love more, to be more selfless, to serve others…that is a noble and worthy goal.
I do think, though, that comparison can become insidious. It becomes a reflection of deeper issues…mainly feelings of inadequacy.
We aren’t thin enough- that girl is
We don’t work enough- that woman does
I don’t have a boyfriend/husband – she does.
I don’t always look put together – my friend does
I don’t make all A’s – my sister did
I don’t always eat healthy foods – that nutritionist does
We don’t. We aren’t. We lack. It’s easier to focus on what others have that we want than to take time to reflect on ourselves and what we have to offer. Our fear deep down is that something is missing. Something vital that decreases our lovability.
Here’s my solution: chin up – eyes forward.
Where are you going? What are your goals? What is your calling? How are you most of service to others? What qualities do you have that benefit the world?
If you have some sort of direction, that is what you should focus on. Learn from books, learn from experience, and definitely from mentors. But know that the only thing they have that you don’t is more experience is a specific arena. Sure, there will always be someone who is prettier/smarter/faster/funnier than we are. What is the point of agonizing over that? We too have qualities that other people want but don’t have. It’s not about a specific talent or facet, it’s about the individual as a whole- a person that is complete and irreplaceable (contrary to what Beyonce says). There has never been and will never be another you and your mission is very unique because of that. Which is why it is essential that you seek it, find it and pursue it without wasting your precious time lamenting the fact that the girl that just walked by you is two sizes smaller and several inches taller. You just can’t afford it…because this might happen:
I know how hard it is. I really do. I am intimately familiar with the overwhelming feeling of insecurity that can occur from something as simple as a trip to the grocery store or a night downtown. Something that begins with curiosity or innocent admiration turns into a deep sense of inadequacy within a matter of seconds. Which is why it is so important, absolutely crucial, to take time to remember our strengths, our good qualities and our purpose. Not only that, but also to take care of ourselves spiritually, emotionally and physically. It is when we know we are fulfilled, that we are enough, when we can give to others from a place of health and not look for something we feel we’re ‘missing’.
Here are some things that have helped me to break the habit of focusing on what I think I lack instead of all that I already have:
- Quiet time in a beautiful place- bring a book, a journal or just sit.
- Make a list of all of your accomplishments up to date.
- Make a list of all your goals you want to work toward.
- Go for a run or a walk.
- Make a self-care plan.
- Do something you’re good at.
- Practice something you want to be better at.
- As superficial as it may sound, things like shopping (within our means) and doing our nails/hair are a good reminder of the beauty we have and care we need.
- Make a list of compliments you’ve received.
- Make a list of what you know to be your strengths and how you use them.
- Practice a random act of kindness.
Some of these may seem weird or even a little vain, but the truth is if we don’t take time to appreciate and care for ourselves, no one else will. As Nick reminded us in my ‘Ask Him’ segment, men react to women’s dispositions. If a women has self-respect, a man treats her with respect and seeks that out in other women. If a woman values herself, a man values her too…it is so important for us to set the bar high for how we are treated. And that starts with how we think about and treat ourselves.
Next time you are confronted with someone who has the jeans/body/boyfriend/job you want, remember that you have never existed in the history of this earth and will never do so again. We need you and all that you bring to the table; and maybe try something from the list above. The point is that no one has to offer what you do and so if you don’t do it with full confidence in who you are and your mission…who will? And if you’re ever in doubt, just remember:
Chin up- eyes forward, my friends.