What a difference 4 years can make. In the midst of the storm … I somehow gained another strength within myself that I never knew I had. 4 years in Houston. WOW. Time flies. Let me just say that the “Grown Woman Au’Vonnie” would not be who she is now without having moved to Houston. Within that time I have fallen but gotten back up many times. Lets see… what have I been through in that time ? Well … went from a great relationship to a not so great one. (But learned to love myself A LOT more during that last little one) 2 car accidents, one which was serious. Took public transportation for a year and a half in the sun, rain, storms. Moved 3 times. Lived with rodents just so I could have somewhere to lay my head. Got my house broken into. Lived off of peanut butter and cup of noodles for months at a time. Made 5 bucks stretch in the bank accounts when deemed necessary. Had some negative bank accounts just so bills could be paid. Denied to my dream school … and then some. However, since then, the come up has gotten much better. I have gone back to school. Written a book. Begun the process of my non-profit and scholarship fund. Traveled to different states and countries. Met new friends. Lost a job but gained a “career” and honestly became a better me. A stronger me. People always tell me that it seems that I have it easy now, but don’t know what is has taken to get here. Lots and lots of tears and setbacks. I still have a long way to go to be exactly where I want to be but I am forever greatful. Greatful that after living in Orlando 5 years ago; me choosing to leave California after that; picking up and leaving everything I was comfortable with and all that I knew to start aknew; All within a span of 9 months. I still laugh at telling my parents “Yeah. I’m moving to Houston, gotta go”. Folks were so mad. That period of time was hard. Best decision I have made to date though. Being stagnant and complacent have never been me. I have always been ok with traveling alone and just up and leaving. The world has so much to offer. Life has so much to offer. I never want to be that person that looks back in years and say “I wish I would have done this or that.” I say all of that to say, seeing the growth of self is dope. Change is dope. Being scared is dope. Living life and learning is dope. I wouldn’t change my experience(s) in my life for anything in the world. It may seem hard during the times when you are going through whatever it is, but the outcome is so much greater.
Instead of constantly seeking acceptance from others, give acceptance to yourself. Accept who you are wholly without reservation. Accept your own brilliant and unique value graciously and gratefully knowing that you are one of a kind. Accept and embrace that. You are inherently worthy, whether anyone explicitly tells you that or not. Give acceptance to yourself, and you will have no need to seek it from others. Accept the goodness that you know is in your authentic nature without hesitation and you will never have to validate yourself for anyone other than you. Accept who you are and revel in it. “The privilege of a lifetime is being and accepting who you are” – Viola Davis
Most of us understand the foolishness of trying to compare ourselves to others. We would readily admit that no good ever comes from it. Yet, whether we are comparing our home size, paycheck, physical features, or any number of measurable (and even unmeasured) things, we do it all the time.
Even though we know there are inherent problems contained in the process:
- We most often compare the wrong things. Because we can most easily compare the things that we can objectively measure, we live in a world that is great at measuring and comparing externals. Somewhere along the way, we decided that we could determine who is living a more valuable life by comparing clothes, cars, homes, paychecks, beauty, or Twitter followers. But externals are rarely a good measure. Net-worth has never been a good indicator of self-worth.
- We always compare our worst with their best. Comparing your life with others is always a losing proposition because there will always be people who “appear” to be better off than you and seemingly live the perfect life. After all, we always compare the worst of what we know about ourselves to the best assumptions that we make about others. Be advised, their life is never as perfect as your mind makes it out to be.
- There is no end to the comparison game. There is an infinite number of categories upon which you can compare yourself… and an almost infinite number of people to compare yourself to. Once you start down that road, you will never, ever find an end.
- Life isn’t graded on a curve. How you measure up against others holds absolutely no importance in your life anyway. It simply makes no difference. The goal of life is not to be better than 50% of the other people on the planet. The goal of life is to be the best you that you can possibly be.
- Comparison puts your focus on the wrong person. You can control one life – yours. When we consistently compare ourselves to others, we waste precious energy focusing on other peoples’ lives rather than our own.
- Comparison robs you of joy. Comparing yourself to others will always cause you to regret what you aren’t, rather than allow you to enjoy who you are. It will always steal the joy and happiness that is within your reach… and place it just outside of your reach instead.
Many a contented life has surely been stolen by the unhealthy habit of comparing ourselves to others. Comparing ourselves to others will always rob us of gratitude, joy, and fulfillment.
But even more than than, it prevents us from fully living our lives. It calls us to envy someone else’s life and seek theirs rather than ours. It is robbing us of our most precious possession: life itself. And while the temptation to compare may never be completely eliminated, there are certainly some practical steps that we can take to move past it. Consider a few of these:
1. Recognize the inherent problems in comparing yourself to another.Take a good look at the list above. Why would we want any habit in our life that promotes feelings of inferiority? Or consistently promotes envy, competition, and strife with no end in sight? Sometimes, just a reminder of the foolishness contained in the habit is the most important step in overcoming it.
2. Celebrate who you are. There are many wonderful things about your life. You are an artist… or a businessman… or a mother… or a good listener… or a generous soul. You have much to celebrate and are entirely unique. Any comparison between you and another person is like comparing apples to oranges. They aren’t living your life, you are. Therefore, you should expect the results to be completely different.
3. Focus inward. Value generosity, humility, goodness, kindness, and love. Begin to focus on developing the inward qualities of a simplified life and the externals will lose their beauty. And the quicker we find beauty on the inside, the sooner we’ll stop comparing things on the outside (skin-deep beauty, paychecks, or power).
4. Realize life is not a competition. There may be times when competition is appropriate, but life is not one of them. We have all been thrown together at this exact moment on this exact planet. And the sooner we stop competing against others to “win,” the faster we can start working together to figure it out.
5. Remember that nobody is perfect. We live in a society that glamorizes perfection. Consider that magazine racks are full of models and celebrities with perfect faces telling one-sided stories of great triumph and fulfillment. One important step to avoiding the lure of comparison is to remember that one snapshot in time never tells the whole story. The story is never told of the hours in a make-up room or the photo editing technique to cover the blemishes. The story is rarely told of their insecurities or failures (except to mention how they overcame them). That story doesn’t sell nearly as many magazines. But the truth remains: there are no perfect people – including you and including me.
6. Live as intentional as possible. Too many people live their lives without intentionality or thought. They rarely find a quiet moment to sit in meditation or solitude and examine their life – who they are and who they are becoming. As a result, lives are lived as a reaction to the events around them. But when a life is lived intentionally and thoughtfully, the comparison game becomes less attractive.
As humans, it is in our nature to compare ourselves to others. But nothing good ever comes from it. So let’s stop comparing ourselves to others. We were not born to live their life. There is no sense wasting our life (or energy) being jealous of theirs. Instead, let’s start living our lives. Let’s determine today to be good at it. After all, we only get one shot.
Let go of that nagging feeling that something could go wrong. Whatever may happen, you can always choose to move forward. Let go of your resentment and anger over things that are beyond your control. Do the very best with where you are, with what you have, and make that more than enough. Let go of the pain you carry from things that have happened that were not necessarily what you wanted to occur, and allow yourself to experience the freedom of forgiveness. (When you don’t forgive and let go, you are only hurting yourself) Let go of regrets, the disappointments and distress. Choose to follow the very best of the possibilities that beckon you forward. Let go of all the excuses you have for not fully living. Give beauty and meaning to the life and world that you’re in right now. Find real fulfillment not in getting, but in being, in living. In letting go and forgiving.
Promise yourself that you will make the most of priceless moments. Promise yourself that you will direct your attention and your efforts towards things that have real meaning and purpose to you. Promise yourself that you will be yourself, in a loving, authentic, and effective way in all that you do. Promise yourself that you won’t waste your valuable time on useless anger, resentment, envy or worry. Remind yourself what an extraordinary opportunity you have in life even on the most ordinary days. Give yourself good and compelling reasons to get up each day and get going in a positive and productive manner. Give yourself great, wonderful, special dreams that are absolutely worth living. Allow yourself to see the beauty in every situation. Tell yourself again, and again how fortunate you are to be able to zero in on the positive possibilities and use them to make a real difference in life. Promise yourself to continue to fill yourself with joy and enthusiasm as you greet life each morning. Promise yourself to make each day meaningful in your own specific way.And lastly, Promise yourself to live, laugh and love life because tomorrow is not promised. Go on that trip. Tell that person you love them. Remind yourself that … (“If you wanna fly, You got to give up the sh** that weighs you down” – Toni Morrison)
When you’re willing to accept challenge you won’t have to accept defeat. Instead of throwing your hands up when things go wrong, look at the situation from a different perspective. See it as a challenge to overcome. Winners and losers are distinguished not by the circumstances they face, but by the way they face them. Challenges are painful, inconvenient, and uncomfortable at times but they also make you stronger as a result. Rather than accept defeat, see the challenge. Pass that challenge. It’s easy to be a victim, but mind you, that won’t get you anywhere. Be a victor instead. Accept and transcend each challenge that comes your way. Cicely Tyson once said (“Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew.”)
Sometimes getting a little lost is the best way to find your true self. You can discover new paths you would have otherwise missed if you stayed in one direction, stumble onto new ideas you would have never imagined, reignite a spark you once lost and even recognize what you love and what you hate. During this time you can learn to understand what you’re truly capable of as well as face your deepest fears and insecurities. Sure, getting lost can make you feel angry, scared, uncomfortable and confused, but it can also be an eye-opening experience if you let it be. Realize that because you chose to carry on as the unrelenting hero and not the victim, you have already won.