Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Thursday, July 26, 2018

This quote has been resonating with me in a lot of aspects of my life as of late. I knew I was doing it, everyday almost, but then someone, a complete stranger, actually put it into clear-as-day words for me and it hit me like a ton of bricks.
As you may know, this year has been about working on myself. Like many mamas out there, I started to lose myself in the daily grind of motherhood. The early mornings, the meal prepping, the shuffling between activities, the refereeing of two active boys and navigating emotions on a 24-hour schedule. Everyday is a routine. And somewhere along the way, I couldn't see myself in any of it. I was here. I was happy. But there was just something missing.

From that point, I had to find something to fill that void in my life. I didn't know what it was going to be, but I just needed SOMETHING. I started to DO more. More meeting up with girlfriends, more nights out, out of the ordinary things like going horseback riding on a Tuesday night. Those times started to recharge me and made me feel good.

I put more time and effort into my small business. I take pride in connecting with my customers, making sure their needs are met and they are happy. I'm happy with how far I've come in about a year and a half. I feel uplifted by the community I'm in and the team I'm a part of, something I also felt was missing in my life. I'm inspired by all the cheerleaders who celebrate all my small wins- even if I've never met them personally.

I also started taking ballet in January and have been taking classes weekly, now twice a week (thanks to my husband who has so graciously taken over Tuesday and Thursday nights so I can do this). I needed a challenge for myself- both physically and mentally and I've been wanting to return to ballet for the longest time. This has been something that's been driving me to be better, work harder, and LEARN. I missed a week of ballet due to a beach vacation, and honestly I was sad. I was sad I wasn't in a studio and dancing and learning something new.

And here is my thief of joy- in all of these endeavors, these things that I actually was seeking and tried to make a part of my life, I compare. I compare myself to these other women who seemingly have it all. I compare myself to my teammates and their successes in business. I compare myself to women in my ballet class who are better than me.

And why? I wish I knew.

Several weeks ago the director of the dance studio I attend suggested I take a more advanced class. "Just come try it. It'll be a challenge, but it will be good for you." To be honest, I liked the class I was in and felt really comfortable where I was, but I was looking for the next step. Big fish small pond.

I was so nervous that night to take that class, seeing all those women in the hallway stretching and wearing cute variations of leotards and shorts and tights. I instantly hated what I wore (I mean really, who cares, right?) and even though everyone was nice and welcoming I was already thinking about my exit. Small fish big pond.

But alas, class went on and I held on for DEAR LIFE. I truly felt like a floundering fish across the floor, just trying to keep up with the girl in front of me. By the end of the class, my face was beet red and my body felt like it had been beaten up. I did it. I survived. I called my husband the second I got in the car.

"How was it?" he asked me. "HARD. IT WAS SO HARD. I really suck." And you know what? I did suck that night. But when he told me that this was supposed to be fun for me, not stressful or frustrating, and that ONE DAY I will get there, I really had to give myself a reality check.

Because he's right. This HAS been making me happy, so why would I let this totally ruin it for me?

I've taken that particular night (and really, a few more nights after that as I stuck it out with a few more of those classes) as a time to really check myself and stop comparing myself to other people, to other outcomes, and to what I THINK is supposed to be the way of doing things. I'm on my own path, and if I can just be focused on improving myself instead of PROVING myself, then maybe I can get out of my own head and truly find that joy- instead of letting all those thoughts steal it away from me.

I mean, who would have thought that ballet would have taught me this lesson? But it has. And it's a good reminder for me each and every week. It's reminded me to be present with my kids and love on them even though they don't voluntarily eat vegetables. It's reminded me to proud of how far I've come in my business as I continue to watch it grow and flourish. It's reminded me that I've done a pretty kickass job as a wife and mother.

If this is you too- if you're constantly comparing (I mean, who doesn't from time to time?) then try and remember this- don't let that steal your joy. Keep on keepin' on. Keep on working on yourself, FOR yourself. I'm no life coach, I'm still working out my own $*!*, but I can pretty much guarantee that you can never truly be happy if you're always looking left and right.

Keep. Moving. Forward.