Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Compare and Contrast

I've been thinking a lot lately about making comparisons. It seems like human nature to always being comparing yourself to another person in every way imaginable, and women seem particularly addicted--"I could never get my hair to do that! I can't can homegrown vegetables! I could never be a stay-at-home mom like her! I could never be a working mom like her!"
The whole thing is insane, but I'm right there in need of a straight-jacket myself. The real question is why are we so nuts?

Considering how few years I've actually been old enough to hold "grown-up" callings in the church, I've certainly done my time in nursery, and in multiple wards at that. When I was in college, I'd work in the nursery whenever I was visiting home. Once, we were having a lesson on Easter Sunday, and it was about the resurrection of Christ. The teacher held up a picture of Christ during the crucifixion when suddenly, one of the three-year-old boys screamed at full volume "NO FAIR!!!!!!"

Thinking that the picture of Christ in pain had frightened or touched him particularly strongly, we stopped the lesson to make sure he was okay.
The little boy continued with the meat of his complaint by adding "my mom never lets me go outside in my underwear, and there is Jesus in his underwear!! Outside! And my underwear even has Spiderman! His is boring."

There you have it, folks. He was not upset that Jesus was undergoing a horrible, violent death at the hands of his own people, he was jealous that the Savior of the world was sporting what looked to be underwear, outdoors. He was out of his mind with envy. Apparently, every boys' dream--running around in your underpants. Basically, he was three. I don't think I have ever laughed so hard, or tried to hold it in so poorly.

This brief but hilarious experience has been popping up in my muddled brain constantly lately. I can't help but wonder how many times we look at someone else, and not seeing the whole picture, we assume we are getting a raw deal and they are the lucky ones. Certainly, if he had understood what the picture really depicted, my little jealous friend would not have given his right arm to trade places with the Savior, at least not in that particular moment of time. Someday, of course, he will understand what it means, but how many years did he waste in envy before growing up enough to figure it all out? I think of all the people I know that I think have it better than me, and I think about all the people I don't know that I think have it better than me. I can make myself feel so picked on--and to what point and purpose? To waste my time being jealous of a situation I don't even understand?

I remember several years ago, watching the show Jon and Kate Plus 8, and being slightly irked at the fact that they get so much free stuff. These people happened to have a bunch of kids (accidentally by they way), and now, they are making bank off of it! It's not like they set out to do anything remarkable, and how fair is it that there are families out there who have just as many kids, or multiples, or children with special needs, but can barely make ends meet because their surprise wasn't massive enough to sway the attentions of a cable network! Where's the justice? I know they need to support their family and all, but other families in equally bad shape don't have the option of letting people film their everyday lives and give them vacations to keep food on the table. They work real jobs! I saw the show again the other night, and I can't believe I wasted even a minute of my time being angry at the world or jealous of them. Look what all that "awesomeness" has cost them! I don't know the whole story or the real truth any more than the next gal, but just the simple fact of having your supposed marital problems splayed all over newsstands for your kids to see and the world to judge would outweigh the benefit of the money right there. I can't imagine the pain of having your children living in constant fear that the horrible things people say about their parents are true! Forget whether or not there was any real infidelity or actual "wrongdoing," just watching the way they interact now (or more accurately, don't interact) is proof that fame has affected their family in a very negative way. They are never together, they don't smile like they used to, and the real joy the show used to showcase, just doesn't seem to exist anymore. But, they do have a bus driver and a luxury bus to take them places! I can't help but feel like I was watching someone on the deck of the sinking Titanic, and feeling jealous of their beautiful bracelet I didn't have.

As my little friend reminded me so many years ago, and life has harshly continued to remind me since, there is no benefit to comparing yourself to others, because you never fully understand what we are comparing ourselves to! We never know the entire story of what exactly makes that grass greener on the other side of the fence, and it is futile and damaging to our own lives to pretend we do. Which is why, despite the fact that it goes against my nature as a human being and a woman, I am doing my best to just stop comparing and contrasting. I am myself, I am no one else. I don't think exactly like anyone else, I don't live exactly like anyone else, I don't look exactly like anyone else (though remarkably similar to my mother). I am just going to start embracing the fact that I like it that way!

1 comment:

Natalie said...

I LOVE this post Carly!! Are you surprised? Nope, me either.

Lately, I've been plagued with negative thoughts about my body. I think about everything I put into my mouth, and how long I would have to work out to balance out the multitude of calories I've consumed. I think about my weight constantly. I am beginning to disgust myself. When did I become so superficial??? I find myself saying things like: Well, I'm closing in on 37, I've had four kids, etc. But the truth is, who cares? I am who I am....jiggly arms, belly pouch and all. I try to tell myself I'm ok with it, but I'm not. I desperately want to be ok with it, I'm just not quite there yet. Thank you for your wise words! For me, they couldn't have come at a better time.

Also, thank you soooooo much for your donation, and for adding the button!! You are an angel.

Love and hugs to you!