I’ve been playing the comparison game a lot lately. You know this game. It’s the one when you open up social media and see how wonderful another mom is doing at (fill in the blank). The mom who seems to have it all together, who feels fulfilled in her life’s purpose, who gentle parents, cooks from scratch, and overall looks like she does such a better job mom-ing than you do.
I am a homeschooling mom, so the comparisons feel even greater sometimes, since I don’t have another person educating my child. So not only do I compare my homeschooling capacities to other moms, but I also compare my children to other homeschooled children. Oh, that child can read. That one loves to learn. That one loves crafting and nature. While my child loves television and toys that make loud noises. ::face palm::
It feels very difficult to be surrounded by so many opportunities for comparisons.
My latest comparison battle is looking at other moms who run a business while staying home, and I’m here wondering how they hold it all together. Surely they must have the funds for hired help, or family nearby to assist them. They can’t possibly be with their kids 24/7, find time to hone their craft, AND cook AND do laundry AND keep a clean house. Because if I can’t, certainly they can’t either. Or do they? And I am just not good enough?
When I start to go down that path of comparison, I really have to stop myself in my tracks and reframe things. It is an action I deliberately take, so I can stop the comparison green-eyed monster. And i work on it every day.
One of the greatest reminders I encounter on how to stop the comparison game happens when I look at my art and my personal creative practice. You see, I am not a trained artist. All I know, I have learned through watching others, and mimicking their work. Everything I have learned, I learned by trial and error, WHILE raising children, WHILE pregnant, WHILE wrangling the chaos that is my house. Not in a situation where I could devote hours and hours to learning. So I am still constantly adding to, and growing, my own artistic capabilities, And I am ok with that. I am okay with being a student, being in the mystery, with all the potential ahead of me. That is what art teaches you to be.
I also know there is enough happiness in this world to go around. I know that another woman’s achievements could be my own, if I wanted those same goals. I am not somehow excluded from receiving the same gifts or opportunities because someone else received them first. I know that in order for my own gifts to shine, someone else doesn’t need to dim their light in the process. I know it can be challenging as women to not compare ourselves to other people. AND we need to stop doing it.
So, yes, it is humbling when I paint something, and share it, only to see another artist has done something much more amazing than me. Or when I am surrounding myself with such talent that I wonder if I’ll ever be able to live up to being in their company. But you know, it’s important to do it anyway. It is important to be vulnerable. To not have it all together.
What you need to do when the comparison happens is remember the endless possibilities before you. Rather than focusing on what you aren’t doing, or who you aren’t like, focus on what you have done, the person you are right now, and the potential you have to grow. Let the folks who you feel less than, guide you to the future you want to have. Let them be the best teachers. And in the process, just notice the comparisons, and let them drift away.
And when you look at your pile of unfolded laundry, like I currently have sitting next to me, I encourage you to channel your inner Elsa. “Let it go, let it go...the clothes never bothered me anyway.” It just might work.