26 July 2011

On Comparing

Why do we (women particularly) compare ourselves to others? I do not have the answer to that, but I've been wondering about it for quite some time.

As we prepared to move to our new house I found myself in a fairly frequent state of worry, particularly about how I would fit in with my new ward and new neighborhood. We moved to an area that is filled with people very similar to us. There are tons of young families and young couples. This resulted in me having a bit of social anxiety as I thought about the prospect of being surrounded by women who were better than me. After a few days of this I realized I just needed to knock it off.

Since then I have really come into a comfortable phase. I'm not the most beautiful person. I'm not a fantastic writer. I'm not particularly fashionable. I'm not the most generous person. I'm not a great decorator. I'm not especially gregarious. I'm not a dynamic public speaker or teacher. I'm not into yoga or pilates or dance or running or Zumba. I'm not very good at baking. I'm not Molly Mormon.

And that's okay.

And it's okay that I'm better at some things than other people. It doesn't make me better than them - it just makes me better at that particular thing.

As I've thought about all this, I've really tried to decide when, if ever, it is okay to compare myself to others. Ultimately, this is my conclusion: If you compare yourself and you feel either inferior or superior, then stop. If you compare yourself and feel inspired, go for it.

Feelings of guilt, in my opinion, have a very short amount of time in which they are productive. Once that time is passed they are only good at creating more negative feelings. Guilt is not in itself a terrible thing. When we've done something wrong (particularly if we've wronged others), we should feel guilt. However, if that guilt doesn't lead us to improve the situation (making restitution with the one we've wronged or changing our actions so that the action which caused the guilt do not return), then the guilt is only harmful.

I'm not saying that we should be complacent in our lives. We shouldn't. It's important to set goals, to achieve and accomplish things, and most importantly to improve our characters. But berating ourselves for not measuring up to some arbitrary standard or belittling ourselves because we aren't the best at everything doesn't actually make us better.

5 comments:

Packrat said...

"Why do we (women particularly) compare ourselves to others?" One answer is because especially during our growing up years, girls (and often boys) can be particularly nasty about letting their classmates know that they are lacking. The "Mean Girls" mentality is nothing new. It was alive and well in the '60's and '70's. Plus, this attitude goes back forever. I can even think of a couple instances in the Bible.

On that note, your assessment, attitude, solution, answer (whichever word fits best) is wonderfully thought out. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Angela Noelle of SK said...

You know what? You're so darn smart! Smarterrrrrrrrrrr than the average girl. Oh, wait.

Alice said...

The thing about comparing ourselves to others, we seem to always pick another person’s best qualities. I can't cook as well as sister so and so, I am not as pretty as this other sister, and so on. That is one of the main problems with comparing ourselves to others. It also sets us up to fail. This is one of the adversary’s best tools.

The Everitts said...

just have to say….I LOVE this post. Thank you for letting me know I am not alone and giving me more perspective on the matter.

trishtator said...

"If you compare yourself and you feel either inferior or superior, then stop. If you compare yourself and feel inspired, go for it."

Excellent. I had thought about this a little lately, me also being in a new ward and neighborhood. Excellent thoughts, Sherry. As always.