Last night, I ran into an old high school classmate. We were in the supermarket after lunch, and there she was. For some reason, I immediately turned into a bumbling fool. OK, so it really wasn't that bad, but I did go from feeling great about myself to comparing myself to her and feeling like I couldn't compete. Hans and I had come straight from work. We were covered in muddy paw prints (and he had paint and glue), and we were tired. We walked like zombies, he in his jeans and t-shirt, and me in my over-sized sweatshirt and favorite pants (my favorite because they're extremely comfortable and equally durable and warm). She, on the other hand, was in a stylish shrug with well-fitted jeans and boots. Her fiance's hair was well-styled and the cut was obviously done by a professional...not done at home like Hans'. Essentially, I got to the store feeling tired, but fairly good about myself. I left feeling frumpy and cheap. Now, I must make note, the girl I saw did NOTHING to make me feel this way. She was perfectly charming and nice. I, however, compared everything.
So, I have to wonder, why do we feel the need to compare ourselves to others? I'm horrible at this. I'm constantly wondering things like: Am I thinner? Am I faster? Am I smarter? Do I have enough nice things? Of course, then I think about all the things I don't have to worry about yet others do (Will I be able to eat today?), and I immediately feel bad. Even if I was thinner, faster, smarter, etc, I'm not nicer. See? I'm constantly comparing!
I do this a lot too. I'll do it when I see friends. I'll do it when I see a stranger doing something I also do (running is a great example). I do it a lot on Facebook.
Part of me feels that this is not a bad thing, and I may be right to some degree. I'm never satisfied, and so I'm always working for more. I wasn't satisfied with being a runner who could only run a 10k when so many other runners did more, so I did a marathon. I wasn't satisfied with having a job that merely paid the bills when so many other people had better jobs, so I started a business. I don't want to feel slumpy or pudgy, so I workout hard and try to eat healthy. I'm not perfect at all, but I'm striving for better.
The other part of me, though, finds this to simply be exhausting. It's overwhelming always feeling like you're not quite enough. I stinks to feel like everyone might be better. It sucks to be at a party and feel like the one person who doesn't really fit in.
Luckily, I'm learning. I'm not nearly had judgmental towards myself as I used to be. Heck, a lot of the time I feel pretty darn great. I just have to wonder why I compare myself at all. Why can't I just be happy with who I am? Yes, I should always be working at bettering myself, but I should do it because I want to. Not because I feel like I'm falling behind other people if I don't. At some point I will fully understand that life is not a competition. Some people will always be better at me at some things (Lord knows I will never be a skateboarder). I will be better at some things than other people (I hope). Some day I will see that those differences are what make us great. They're what make us individuals.
Someday I will stop comparing myself to others and finding fault in myself. Someday I will learn to accept myself for who I am and be very happy with that. Until that day, I will keep working on making me happy. I will run because it feels good to run. I will work because I love what I do and it pays the bills. I will do what makes me happy!