I’m hitting the motherlode today, clearly touching sensitive territory- comparison of the self with others.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been putting myself down and gazing from the outside in. Growing up from life as an active child to becoming an overweight teenager, I developed a crushingly low self-esteem. During my teenage years, I was preoccupied with the thinness of girls surrounding me. Towering at 5’7 when I was in high school, I felt like a big lugging giant in comparison to the petite 5’1-5’3 girls. My fat obstructed me physically and socially, and I rarely said yes to being photographed.
I was envious of the sea of thin girls and women around me, wishing to look like that for at least 24 hours of my life. When girls whined about wearing size 30 jeans and declared to lose weight, I looked at shame at my own humongous XXL pair. I also mentally compared myself to my beautiful, slender cousin sisters who looked graceful in just about anything. A stinging remark that still flashes in my head is when my innocent male cousin once carried all my sisters doubles in the bicycle, but not me.
“But you’re too heavy, and I am scared for the cycle!” He was speaking the truth, but it left a cycle shaped scar in my head.
During a funeral for all my fat shed at age 21, I was getting to a place where I was camera-happy but envious of something else. I had chopped all my hair into a short boy ‘do, and I compared myself incessantly to any woman with hair below her chin. “Oh, she’s so much more feminine with her long locks. I look like a masculine mess of a woman next to her.” All because I decided to impulsively chop my hair off, and which would grow back eventually.
While I was working in college, I compared my introverted self to my extroverted classmates. All these smart women, who were popular and could even curry favors out of professors because of their outgoing natures. And there I was, a shy introvert who had something to say but would shut up because I was afraid of drawing any attention.
I compared my body to theirs, my friend circle of 1 or 2 to their groups of five, my grades to theirs, my moderately-priced clothes to their high-fashion ones.. the list was endless and tiring.
It was normal to keep up this endless parade of lusting after someone else’s life, right?
It didn’t get any easier during my working years and till now as an adult. Instagram made it way too easy for me to keep the charade up and going. I looked at the gorgeous influencers with the ability to spend so much, a ton of PR sent to them, big brand collaborations, perfect bodies, exotic vacations, a wardrobe of expensive clothing..
I don’t want to keep this going. I wanted to quiet the voice in my head since my teenage years, telling me “Look at them, and look at you. You’ll never have or you’ll never be enough.”
And for a while now, I have found a few ways to stop this stupid comparison game. Let me share things I do to stay sane and happy with my life-
Lie down, take a breath and stare at the ceiling. Look around you- at the walls, the couch or the bed, the laptop, the cell phone, the soft pillows under your head and the quietness around you. Not everyone has the luxury of time, of coming to a quiet home and doing nothing. If you don’t believe me, I can give an example. In episode 5 of 2018’s Queer Eye, a man with six children and his wife live in a small home. To make ends meet, he has to work from morning to night, literally. Thinking of that, I wonder how much I underestimated aspects of my life as empty or lacking.
Print out a thoughtful quote from Pinterest, Google Images or any other website. This quote or saying should be something that strikes a chord deeply, and something you can remember during stressful moments. Using push pins, tack the print out near a place where you are present most of the day. This is the quote I have tacked on the wall next to my bed, as a daily reminder:
Hop on that gratitude train! Maintain a gratitude diary/journal, or even start counting your everyday blessings in an app like HappyFeed. I was using the IPhone app for more than a month, and it immensely helped in writing 3 great things that happened daily. I have talked about the importance of gratitude before, and it brings me jot when I ever re-read it. You gotta stop and smell the roses. 🙂
Law of attraction is something I’ve begun to believe in- thoughts becomes things. You manifest in reality what you constantly think about, positively or negatively. If you keep thinking that someone’s out to get you, it eventually happens. If you keep thinking that your life is bad compared to your friends or sisters, it does get worse in real life. So isn’t it better to tell yourself, “I got this today and everyday. I’m proud of myself for being alive, for getting this far in life and will keep getting better.” Trust me on this- what you think, you become.
Do something about the comparison bug- don’t let it fester. Whether it is punching your pillow every time you put your life down because someone else’s life looks better, writing your heart out or even cutting something out of your life- DO IT! I don’t use my @melangeofwords Instagram account much anymore, because it was giving me heartbreaking envy looking at everyone else’s life speeding along. If it means unfollowing an influencer on social media for your mental health, do it. You answer only to yourself in these matters of self-esteem. While the grass is greener on the other side, someone else might be wishing for your pastures too.
If I sound whiny, I promise that is not my intention. I want the teenage girl of my past to speak up today in the voice of the grown-up woman. I want her to know this-
We all deserve chances to see how we are our own sunshine.
Do you have a tendency to compare your life with others? What do you do to beat them blues? Let’s talk in the comments section below.
Until next time, see you soon on this side of the world.