Yesterday on the Instagram feed of some random photographer whom I follow but do not know, I saw this quote: "Comparison is the thief of joy." Teddy Roosevelt.
And I thought, yessssss.
I've been there, measuring myself up against the Joneses, thinking things like,
Wow, she's like 25, and has produced four novels and four children, WTF have I been doing?
All my organic chemistry study buddies are making a gazillion dollars a year as chemical engineers and anesthesiologists while I am earning the same word-rate as I made in 2000... to write about carrots.
Why didn't I stick with teaching dance - or get that MFA instead of the MS? That creative life seems so much... better.
Then I get real: I count my blessings. I acknowledge that I have a great life, that I have accomplished many of my goals, that I am truly happy for these other highly successful people. And then I mostly move on.
So I was thinking this... and suddenly I was realizing that comparisons, done right, don't thieve joy at all. They can inspire, they can empower, they can highlight the unique qualities that make you - or the people you love - awesome.
You can compare yourself to that co-worker who does not necessarily have extraordinarily mad athletic skills and who just rocked her first marathon and think, "I can do that."
You can watch your friend grow an awesome business and realize, "If I am willing to focus all of my energy and loads of time into that one passion that consumes me, I can do that too."
You can make caramel apples, using the recipe from EatingWell, compare them to the photo and say, "These look like shit - probably because was too impatient to thoroughly dry the apples. But they taste great, so who cares?" And then realize - happily - that you're not a TOTAL control freak.
You can look at your two little boys and recognize how the same they are - and how so very different. How one is sensitive, passionate and uber-perceptive and the other, an ever-pleasant hot-mess who can smile himself out of any sticky situation. A Bert & Ernie of sorts. (They actually dressed as the duo last Halloween.)
And through comparison, you begin to pinpoint the awesome qualities that define each of them, those two boys you love so fiercely. You love them the same. But differently. I get it now, Mom. Maybe you don't really have a favorite. (But I still think it's Kate. And that's cool... )
|#fail - or not?|
|Guess which one? (Hint: he's sort of our Bert)|