I don’t discuss my full time job here very often (ever? ) but I work for an appraisal company. A large part of my day is spent comparing commercial properties to one another (or comparing markets or construction quality or amenities…). All day long I make comparisons- it’s second nature now.
In valuing property, comparisons are necessary. That’s 100% the opposite when it comes to valuing our lives- comparing ourselves to one another is so dangerous and toxic. I think all bloggers tackle this problem in a post at some point, but just recently I witnessed individual friends get down on themselves after making comparisons. That led to a self-evaluation where I realized that I tend to put pressure on myself, my marriage, my relationships, and even my dogs after comparing myself/us/them to someone else.
We all do it. I have mommy friends that compare themselves to other moms (or compare their child’s development to other children). I have friends in the dating pool that compare themselves to other people who are dating or recently engaged. I have married friends that ask K and I about our relationship and then compare us to their life. I’m sure that parents of adult-children compare their lives to other older parents (i.e. how often their kids come around, whether or not they’re grandparents, how close they are to retirement). There’s no age restriction on comparing- we all do it.
I enjoy social media, but we know those perfect snapshot moments don’t help. Engagements, pregnancy announcements, new houses- they makes us wonder if we’re where we should be in life. Tropical vacations, perfectly cooked dinners, beautifully lit trees and steaming cups of tea- we wonder how others manage to have it all and what we should be doing differently to achieve it, too.
A few days ago I talked a friend off a proverbial ledge. She’d had a great day and was feeling good, but then she looked around and started second guessing what was happening to her in comparison to others. We both came to the conclusion that these ‘harmless’ comparisons were making her dangerously unhappy. It’s ok to want what we want and it’s ok to look to others as examples, but we can’t idolize other relationships or careers or lives. First of all, we’re all different and things never work out the same way for one as they do another. Secondly, we don’t actually know how glamorous (or tragic) someone’s life is. And, regardless, it doesn’t matter- you have your life and there’s no Freaky Friday fortune cookie that going to swap it with another person.
I am happy with who I am and the life I live and the place I’m at- but I still fall victim to comparison more often than I’d like to admit. I glance across the aisle and see how someone else is doing on their wife test or employee test or friend test. I try to put myself on a grading scale. How am I doing as a daughter? friend? dog owner? Well clearly not as good as so-and-so… just look at those Instagram pictures!
It sucks. And we all do it. And we need to remind one another (gently) to stop. So here’s your reminder today.
Your house is cozy and comfy, even with the cat hair tucked in the corner of the steps. Your tree is just the right size and sparkle for you. People love you for the person you are- they’re not comparing you to anyone so why are you?
Pass the message along and remind someone else that we don’t live in a venn diagram. Pat yourself on the back and then pat someone else’s back. Go after the things you want, not the things you think you’re supposed to want. The people around you are very happy with who you are- you should be, too 🙂
You do you, boo.