Several years ago I heard this quote and it spoke to me. Like everyone else, I was guilty of
sometimes always comparing my life to the lives of other people. I constantly compared whether my clothes were as nice, my car as new, my house as big, my friends as fun, etc. At the time, I was deeply unhappy and so I decided to quit the “comparing” habit cold turkey. It was liberating.
Suddenly, it didn’t matter if I lived in a small downtown apartment, because I loved the way the light came through the big windows on Saturday mornings and that was enough for me. I didn’t care if so-and-so had found their soul mate, because I was content being single and watching SATC on Friday nights. As I said, it was liberating.
Recently however, this quote has taken on an entirely different meaning for me and once again, it is time for me to liberate myself.
You see, I no longer compare my life to those of others (well, most of the time at least) but I do constantly compare my reactions. I may sound a little “braggy” here, but I am a good friend. I am a good daughter. I am a good sibling. I’m not the most amazing person in the universe and I have my flaws without a doubt, but feeling joy and excitement for the people that I love just isn’t one of them.
I am the first person to be completely over the moon when a friend tells me about a new guy they are dating. Or when someone moves into their first home. Or when a baby announcement is made. Or when some lucky guy pops the question. I really am. If I genuinely love you, then all of these events are significant to me because they are significant to you.
I’m the friend who buys custom gifts for your house warming. I’m the person who takes time away from studying for finals to help you move. I am the girl that spends entirely too much money on a baby shower gift at Target. I am the friend that quite literally will sit and listen to you gab about your new job, new house, new sofa, new baby, new hobby, new car for hours!
But I compare. You see, when something BIG happens in my life, I look around me and try to gauge everyone’s reactions. Not only do I expect for them to be happy for me but I unfairly expect them to be as excited as I would be if the shoe were on the opposite foot. That’s unfair of me.
Yet, when they inevitably go about their lives and don’t offer to buy a bottle of wine and let me talk about my excitement to my heart’s content, I get upset at them. That’s unfair of me.
But it is also unfair to me because it steals my joy! And just when I am supposed to be over-the-moon excited about something, I am left wondering if ____________ loves me as much as I love them. I am left wondering why ____________ wouldn’t be as happy for me as I was for them. I get angry because ____________ didn’t offer me the help that I offered them. The list goes on…
So this quote still has a lot of teaching left to do. I do not need to compare my reactions to those of anyone else. Instead, I need to realize that each of us handle life differently and react to our friends and family differently. In this moment, I want my joy. I will no longer throw it away with comparison to how other people react to my joy. It is mine. I’m claiming it.