By: Whitney Millard, Guest Blogger
So I have this archenemy. I mean I don’t really have an archenemy (I’m not a superhero or anything. YET…) it just feels like it in my head sometimes.
She doesn’t know she’s my archenemy. All she knows about me is that I absolutely love her and her genuinely inspired work. (Because I do!) We are artists of the same variety, cut from the same cloth. In fact I am pretty damn sure we are kindred spirits. Both of us are writers building our careers and well, her stuff is good. REALLY good. This amazing woman is one lucky break away from having all the literary success I have ever dreamed of and the kicker, she deserves it. And that sends my “You aren’t doing enough, Whitney!” sensors into full blown panic mode.
In my mind, somehow, she’s the competition. Like somehow there isn’t enough to go around? That’s a crock!
Yet somehow her success and accomplishments are so much cooler and bigger than mine! She’s making bold choices, living her truth out each and every day, while I struggle to remember who I even am sometimes. Who I am always seems to get drowned out by my 9-5, my errands, and my chores.
My chronic comparing isn’t anything new. In fact I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t look around and see what everyone else had and was capable of reflected squarely back at me. It’s a gift really. If I did have an actual enemy I’m pretty sure I could tell you 12 fantastic things about them on cue.
But when it comes to me, I have blinders on. While I firmly believe no one was sent out into the world without all the weapons they need to do battle and kick ass on this planet, I seem to always have trouble remembering mine.
I’ve heard that jealousy can be good a good thing, pointing you in the True North direction of your heart and revealing your sincerest desires, that’s all well and true, but I don’t want to keep comparing. I don’t want to be unappreciative and unaware of all of the good things in my own life, because objectively there are lots of good things.
My favorite writer, Anne Lamott, says this is “comparing our insides to everybody else’s outsides.” We don’t know what’s really going on with people. We don’t know what they’re struggling with unless they choose to reveal it. We only know what they tell us, especially over the vast and lonely internet where there’s no body language or tone of voice. So instead of using my impression of everyone as some kind of yardstick and measure of where I should be- what if I saw them as cohorts, as potential collaborators, and use the itch they leave me with to be better- to actually go forward and do what I want to do? What if I embraced the idea that one of us succeeding means all of us succeed.
We have been taught that it is selfish to focus on ourselves, to look inward instead of gazing, eyes and mouth wide with wonder at the world around us. We have been taught wrong though. The world around us is spectacular and meant to be cherished and enjoyed. But the world within us is what makes us able to appreciate the outside. We have to do the inside work first. It’s not selfish to love and embrace who you are. It’s absolutely vital.
Comparison is the thief of joy, as the saying goes. How true!
- Collaboration is SO much better than comparison! Next time you find yourself mentally measuring, take a pause, and instead switch mental gears to count those qualities in yourself as well as the other person as gifts you each possess that make you both unstoppable, beautyFULL YOU!
Whitney Millard is a writer in Los Angeles attempting to make sense of this crazy world and it’s wonderful people. She launched her blog, WhittyWords.com last fall to have a place to lay down her (perhaps too many) thoughts and feelings. You can usually find her any place that has books, a stage, or boba tea and potstickers.
Image via taraburner.com