Stop scrolling right now.
You don’t need to look at one more perfect picture on social media. You need to take a break, look at your own life, and your uniquely amazing self, and realize what incredible things you have to offer to the world.
It’s hard to do, isn’t it?!
I get it.
And I don’t even think we realize we do it most of the time! But as we mindlessly scroll through the highlights of everyone else’s lives every day on our glorious phones and computers, or even just in everyday life, it can get really easy to start comparing our own lives to those happy snapshots of everyone else’s.
Stay-At-Home-Mamas, we start looking at the homemade bread and organic-thank-you-very-much well-rounded meal that Suzie is serving to her kids everyday, and we begin to question the PB&J sandwich and pretzels we just served to our own.
Working Mamas, we look at Perfect Patty who is completely put together for work everyday (with Starbucks in hand, of course); she has her kids in the best school in town, and juggles it all with ease and little-to-no stress; all the while we’re questioning the fact that we totally let our own kiddos skip brushing their teeth last night because we were just. so. tired.
College Students, we see that shining star student in that one class, who will finish her bachelor’s degree in three years instead of four, maintains a 4.0, is the chair of three different honors teams (or whatever the heck those things are), and still finds time to workout. Meanwhile we just learned that it’s going to take an extra semester (or two) to get through our own degree, math has never been a strong subject and our grade reflects it, and we traded our workout for pizza last night.
Career Folks, we see the newer girl in the office celebrating the promotion she just got; she always seems to do outthink us all, never seems afraid to speak up at meetings, and has a never-ending stream of new ideas to incorporate. Meanwhile we’ve been working so hard to handle this job, extra trainings we’re taking to try to be on the cutting edge, family who complains we never call, and this whole “self care” thing people are always talking about.
It’s all a bit much at times.
Without even realizing it, we look at someone who seems to be on a similar life-track, and we compare greatness of their life, to the not-up-to-par pieces of our own.
A few days ago, I had a complete meltdown. Total, complete, tears and all, meltdown.
My husband came home from a long, stressful day at work, and by that time, I was completely exhausted from a day full of mommying (by the way I had no idea how exhausting mommying was until I became one). My gorgeous husband began washing the dishes. He finished that up, and walked over to that load of laundry I had been trying to get to all day. He folded it. And put it away. Once he was done with that, he grabbed the broom, and swept up the crumbs from my toddler’s snack he had eaten a little while earlier.
All this while I was so tired that I could hardly peel myself off of the couch to jump in and work alongside him.
Now, I must pause to make sure that I accurately portray my husband. He didn’t complain at all. He never (EVER) cares how much housework I’m able to accomplish during the hours he’s at work, and he has never once asked me “so what did you do all day?” (other than just casually asking about my day). He simply came home, saw some things he could do, and did them.
Me on the other hand, I started to compare. I started to think about all the other mamas out there who probably do a fantastic job at keeping their homes spotless 100% of the time. I wondered why I was so exhausted that I couldn’t get it done. I felt horrible that my husband worked tirelessly (as he does every single day), all day long, only to come home and feel the need to clean up our home. The more he cleaned, the more uneasy I became.
Finally, I cried. I pouted. I sobbed. I drug myself up off the couch and began doing stupid stuff. Yep, you read that right. I went into my kiddo’s dresser and swooped out all the clothes and drug them into the living room. I had been meaning to go through them again; it had been a few months. I began sweeping up the floor (even though my husband had just swept). I began finding all kinds of crazy things to do, so that I could measure up. And let’s be clear, I wasn’t doing it because I had a burst of energy and wanted to do this. I did this in the midst of sheer exhaustion from a long and crazy day running around after small children. Because surely all the other great moms would never have this issue, and surely they keep their households running perfectly, at all times. Surely their husbands never have to come home and sweep up crumbs after their hard day at work.
After a big long cry, lots of reassuring words from my hubby, and a few deep breaths, I regained my composure. (I also realized how ridiculous that meltdown was. But, hey. It happens.)
Guess what. If we are constantly comparing ourselves with everyone else, we will never truly walk in the beauty that is our own unique wonder.
Our eyes so easily wander to those around us, and if we’re not careful, we’ll begin fashioning ourselves after someone else while forgetting to stay true to our own selves. In some ways, we feel as though who we are, just isn’t good enough. It’s not glamorous enough. It’s not flashy enough. It’s not likeable enough.
But in reality, if we learn to really embrace who we are and strive to walk in that individuality, we will see that who we are is actually pretty amazing.
Recently I stumbled upon this little gem, which has truly caused me to see the value in just being me.
“Make careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of us must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 6:4-5 (the message). Emphasis mine.
Actual instructions for how to live a life that is free from comparison. A life that is rich in beauty that is only our own.
It may take some practice, but it’s all about what we focus on. If we focus on everybody else, we will forever and constantly feel like we will never measure up. We will become burnt out, and exhausted trying to keep up with something that we do not have the grace to do; someone we do not have the grace to be.
But if we focus on the amazing life we’ve been given (the “work” we’ve been given) and remember that no one else has quite the same task at hand, we can “sink” ourselves into that, and flourish into the amazing individual that we were created to be. We don’t have to be “impressed” with ourselves, so there’s no need to try and outshine anyone else (talk about taking a load off our shoulders!). We can learn to do the “creative best” we can with the life we live, knowing that it doesn’t have to be like anyone else’s.
Take some stress off of your shoulders. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. There’s no need.
Sink yourself into your life. Be YOU.
In a world full of carbon copies, be the watercolor painting.
That, my friend, is true freedom.
In what ways are you sinking yourself into your own life/calling/task? Comment below!