As a mom I feel the constant pull towards comparison.
When my children were younger, I would hear of the mom next door, whose kid was potty trained at 12 months – Ugh! Meanwhile mine was 18 months old and not even walking, never mind walking to the bathroom on her own!
In crept those nasty, joy thieving little beasts, called – doubt and guilt.
As the years pass on, those comparisons change of course but they are still there and ever present. In fact it is a constant battle to remind myself to focus on running my own race.
Look no further than social media for an ideal platform in comparison. Although ironically most of the photos and stories people post are either staged or tiny snippets out of context to the reality of their life.
Let’s take the example of this little fiend, we call “Elf on the Shelf” or “Elfie” in our household…
Shall we be honest? Most of us either toss him somewhere on the way to bed or wake up in the middle of the night, remembering that we have forgot to toss him somewhere new! We lay in bed, because we’re too lazy to get up and actually move the damn Elf, devising a plan to tell the kids in the morning, that “Elfie was sick last night and didn’t have the strength to fly back to the north pole”, or perhaps, “Elfie was very upset, hearing you fight with your sister yesterday and is on Elf strike until your attitude improves!”
Either way you think it’s a mom-win!
Until you’re drinking your coffee the next morning perusing Facebook and see the mom next door who posted 75 photos of a whole freaking royal breakfast set out, with china and a table cloth and mini foods that their “Elf” prepared for the kids the night before!
Again, In creeps those nasty, joy thieving little beasts, called – doubt and guilt. “Am I a bad mom?” “Should I be doing more for my kids?” and on and on…
Not only do I have to remind myself to weave around comparison traps, but now how do I go about teaching my children to run their own race as well – especially in a world that seems to direct us toward this path of comparison at a very young age.
Recently my oldest daughter came home from school feeling deflated. I could see it in her eyes.
It wasn’t until later that evening (where most of our really good talks happen) that she explained to me that she is not smart, in fact she believed that everyone else in her class does just about everything better than her.
After some more investigating – I learned that she had a science test that day at school. She thought she was doing fairly well, she had to mull through a couple of the questions for a few minutes, read others a few times and go back and change a few answers, but ultimately – she felt she did a pretty good job.
Until she realized she was the last one finished the test.
Uh oh – In crept that nasty, joy thieving little beast again, called – doubt, “Why am I the last one to finish? What did I do wrong? Did everyone else think it was that easy? Why am I so slow?” My daughter explained through tears to my husband and I that evening.
We of course explained to her that no matter how she scored on the test – we were proud of her. She did her best, she was focused, she didn’t rush through it, she took as much time as she needed – and those are all attributes of excellence.
Now fast forward a few days – she learned later that she was the only one in the class to achieve 100% on the said test! Boo-yah! What a wonderful learning opportunity!
This was a fantastic illustration of how comparison robs us of joy. She initially thought she did well, she was proud of herself and confident. Until comparison kicked in.
Comparison breeds doubt and guilt.
It’s not only deflating but demotivating.
It robs us of our confidence, creativity and even vulnerability.
Instead, maybe we could give comparison the finger… and focus on becoming better versions of ourselves today than we were yesterday.
Not better than our friends,
Not better than our family,
Not better than our neighbors…
Better versions of ourselves.
It’s just uncommon sense.
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