comparison…or inspiration?

So I recently figured out another of my ((many?)) problems: my comparison group consists of women over 50, on their second marriage, and with more life experience than a 20-something should pressure herself to have.

I also recently realized one truth: I am that 20-something.

“Happiness is not an absolute value. It is a state of comparison.” ― Zadie Smith

It didn’t happen on purpose. I didn’t go out looking to find amazing women who inspired me but in turn made me create unrealistic expectations for myself. It just sorta happened. Mostly because this was the population I found myself surrounded by for 2 to 4 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Let’s explore.

Bikram yoga, while it saved me and helped me go topless (sort of), is a definite luxury that requires having some dollas stored away under the mattress; I’m splurging fo sho because it definitely ain’t cheap (although, for me, at the moment, I find it a completely necessary part of my well-being). Aside from the price being a dead giveaway, I realized this as I began the privileged journey of entering into the lives of the women that are unknowingly helping me heal. They are professional women. Older women. With a full life behind them. And even more ahead as they settle into hobbies and volunteering and traveling and retirement.

And then there’s singing, which also saves me. I joined a church choir earlier this year. One filled with kindhearted, faith-filled men and women, in their 50s and 60s…and maybe even 70s (I can’t tell, some look like they’ve had work done; no judgment, nip and tuck as you please), their spouses also in the choir. Cute couples. Supportive couples. Happily married couples. Couples that can sing! (…mostly).

And so, logically (in the not-actually-logical-at-all sort of sense), I began comparing myself to these people. I began to question many aspects of life, criticizing myself for not being there, forgetting potential responses I now place in parenthesis:

`Why can’t I find a supportive husband who is kind and faith-filled and (can sing!) like these women had? (well maybe because they’re on their second marriage and it took trial and error and patience and time to find mr. wonderful (…honestly, these men are all pretty wonderful)).

`Why can’t I be disciplined enough to be extra fiscally responsible and plan a trip (or two) to a wonderful country abroad, like Italy or Greece, like they have? (well maybe because I’m a 20-something grad student with no disposable income at the moment, and no time for a full-time job considering 3 paid&unpaid part-time jobs take up my energy. So basically, saving that much is pretty impossible. Or maybe because also they have mr.wonderfuls who help pay for these things and they have been saving, together, for year and year…and years).

`Why can’t I dedicate more time for volunteering and serving others and praying like they do? (well maybe because I’m not retired like they are and have full days to spend doing those things. Some days I’m lucky if I find time for dinner and 7-hours of sleep!).

`Why can’t I have defined abdominal muscles, lean legs, toned arms, & flexibility like a gazelle (although I’m not actually sure gazelles are flexible, they just seem so dainty and elegant so I’m assuming completely on this one)? (well maybe because I don’t devote all of my time and energy to working out/training/yoga-ing etc.  some of these women, admittedly, do this (yoga, workout, etc) as basically their profession, competing at it, devoting time and energy and money for their primary passion. Given that my primary passion is helping, I don’t see myself working out/training 6-8 hours a day, 5-7 days a week any time soon…or ever. I’ll stick with my 1-2 hrs, 4-6 days a week).

So, after all that wonderful musing, I think I’ve figured something else out (per uge):
maybe part of this whole happy thing is decreasing the unreasonable expectations piece while not necessarily eliminating the inspiring-people-who-fuel-you part, focusing your energy on what you can/will do rather than what you can’t (for perfectly valid reasons that don’t require explanation).

“The position of a hero is not for the comparison, it is a reference point.” ― Amit Kalantri

Quite the balance, I’d say. Difficult. But not impossible.

“Be cautious with what you feed your mind and soul. Fuel yourself with positivity and let that fuel propel you into positive action.” S. Maraboli

how are you fueling your mind and soul?


2 thoughts on “comparison…or inspiration?

  1. And what if you’re comparing yourself to the picture they give out to the world, and it isn’t the whole story? I used to do this, and then realised it everyone was as happy or content as I thought. O saw a quote once along the lines of the only person I should compare myself to is the person I was yesterday. So true!

    1. Definitely agree! i think everyone tries to share the best parts of themselves so it’s easy for others to assume that the good is all there is. We just need to stick to our own definition of happy instead of comparing it with others’ 🙂

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