The dangers of comparison

So today I got to spend time with one of my favourite people to celebrate her birthday. I want to say another year, but the truth is that, though she is now a friend, I’ve only known her for about 9 months, so not yet another year…

Anyway, I digress, as is my way. As these things generally go, I was not the only person sharing in the celebrations. In fact, she was surrounded by quite a few women who care greatly about her and the quality of these women speaks greatly to the amazing person the birthday girl is. And therein lies the rub, for me, anyway.

Spending a few hours with these extraordinary women really made me wonder how I got there. I’m nowhere near their league, to my mind. I mean, there I was, surrounded by bloggers (who have “made it”), PR people, degrees, accomplished mothers, people who had been featured and have been guest speakers and have just generally achieved. And I will be honest, I felt alone and outside. Don’t get me wrong, these are awesome women and I was not excluded. The issue is very much internal.

So, why? What is the problem. I guess the fact I don’t mingle comfortably plays a part, but mostly, I compared myself, and using someone else as the standard by which you measure yourself…. Welll…

So let’s have a list

  1. I was the only idiot showing cleavage – hey, I underachieve, but my WonderBra still works!
  2. Bloggers everywhere! Which makes sense in context, but these people are important enough for people to feel threatened and be mean to them.
  3. So much of pretty! 3 months postpartum, I am not feeling excited about myself physically.
  4. New mom, amongst the “veterans”. And their kids are special. And I don’t mean short-bus-special. I mean the apple stuck near the tree, impressive special. I refuse to use my kid to compete, but it’s intimidating.
  5. They know how to socialise. And network. I know how to say “get over yourself”. It’s not an endearing trait…

I could likely go on, but this is depressing. So the point? I’m not actually a chronic underachiever. I have achieved all my major goals, except getting my degree. Which is due in July, so…. I have a gorgeous baby, a wonderful husband, 3 amazing pets. I have great friends and few issues – aside from the obvious self-esteem collapse I am clearly suffering right now.

The problem in comparing yourself to others, is that you are comparing an actual 3D object to a 2D image – generally a cube to a circle, at that. The thing to remember is that I didn’t gatecrash that party. I was invited. Which means that to my friend, who is the one that matters, I have earned my spot in that group. I passed the only comparison that matters – I am her friend.

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The surprises that are my girl friends

This is an acknowledgement and a thank you to a few special ladies in my life.

To my mind, there are a few special friends in life that one can turn to and honestly say “I love you”. For me, interestingly and despite being married, these are mostly male. That said, since hitting adulthood, a few special women have entered my life and made themselves comfy in my I-love-you zone. So this is for them.

Palesa Natasha Motapo. My first. That woman who made me want to be an extrovert, but accepted and loved me for the blunt, forward introvert I am. My favourite mirror. You never let me get away with bull, but you show me in the best light. You are my friend outside of time and distance and you inspire me, even in your absence. You see and accept me warts and all and you tailored your friendship to that. Until you, I have never desperately wanted to be in someone’s orbit or felt the need to hug someone on sight. But you, special, magnetic, radiant woman, you blew my mind and my defences and I am so blessed to call you a friend. Now stop working so hard, I miss you.

Megan Cousins. Who knew. You were one of those sneaky sods. There I was, minding my own business, happily oblivious to the world and all social expectations, when I look up to find myself a friend richer. That’s cheating, you know. You’re supposed to fire a warning shot, or something. You share my love of animals and you pour your whole soul into everything. You are inspiring and I wish I could give so much of myself to everything. There is no spirit more giving and I am so much richer for your unexpected spot in my heart.

Lisa Haworth. Sure, we’re technically family, but there’s no law saying we have to get on. When first you made contact after all those years, I was so taken aback. Today I am truly grateful. You have given me back my belief in family. You have shared a heritage and made all the moves, because I can be an obstinate cow about such things. You are a fighter and a hero and I get to share in your journey and I am grateful every day for that.

Mandy-Lee Miller. I never saw you coming either. From what I expected to be a no attachments interview, a friendship has grown. You bring wisdom and support and cheer to my life. You keep me sane during long days of being a mommy. You walk me through it step by step and you are just so present. I can’t believe I found you. I can’t believe that of all the random online encounters, I got to connect with you. I count myself truly fortunate.

To these 4 beautiful women, who each embodies strength, wisdom, gentleness and beauty in their own way and each brings something so incredibly special to my life, THANK YOU. You are amazing and I am so grateful you put up with me.

I love you all millions.

PS: My mom and sister are also awesome, but they are a post for another time.