Disclaimer: I’m going to be very transparent with you. I’ll be honest, I am almost nauseous typing this because I am letting my guard down and allowing you into a hidden space. Please be gentle with my heart.
I looked at the notification on the lock screen of my iPhone. She had sent me a friend request. Almost in a flash, I swiped to unlock my phone and confirm that we would be friends… well at least on social media. Under any normal circumstances, I’d sit my phone back down and continue what I was doing. These weren’t normal circumstances. After clicking “accept,” I clicked on her profile and scrolled until I ran out of patience. I scrolled through pictures and posts that I had already seen once, maybe twice before. Facebook had already suggested her as a friend some time before, and I had already done a thorough exploration of her page. And then out of compulsive habit, I clicked on my profile and scrolled through my own posts and pictures. And then it happened… I began comparing.
Here is my very transparent and vulnerable truth:
I play the comparison game DAILY.
I’d like to just state for the record that I truly like and love myself. My short 30 years have been filled with transitions and transformations, good and bad that have worked together wondrously to create who I am today. I have earned the right to be Christen Rouson. Self-love isn’t an issue.
After some self-reflection, I was able to pinpoint the insecurity that makes me do a complete examination of my life and compare it to a brief snapshot of someone else’s. I have allowed myself to be placed in too many situations where I was in a silent competition with another woman. In many cases it involved me talking to a man who hadn’t let go of his ex or the string of other women he was entertaining, and I was left competing with a woman who knew nothing of me for a spot that he had no intentions of giving me. That toxic behavior has sparked this daily self-destructive pattern of comparing me vs. her.
This girl that I referenced is merely a representation of the several others who are now in the count of my followers or sit among many others on my friend’s list. She is educated, beautiful, walking out her purpose, achieving success, and radiating with God’s glory… and then I examine myself. The truth is, I have quite a resume of my own beyond being beautiful, caring, and giving. I am actually doing something with my life:
Humbly speaking, with all of that coupled with the fact that I am a woman of God, what reason do I have to compare myself to anyone else? That is the question I shamefully ask myself after I pick every piece of me apart in an effort to see how it measures up to someone whose shoes I do not walk in and whose life I do not live.
My close friend, Lauren, is my gym buddy. Often times, we will use the same machines for the same amount of time so that we stay together throughout the workout. I will even go as far as programming my machine with the same settings as hers so that we are on an even playing field. Because I have such a terrible habit of comparing, I found myself comparing my progress to hers. In addition to my proclivity to play the comparison game, I am also a bit competitive – I don’t like it when people are better than me or I’m not number one. One particular day when we went to the gym, I somehow got a head start of about 30 seconds on the elliptical. I must have been feeling good that day because I was zooming on that machine. The head start coupled with my quicker pace meant that I was covering more miles than Lauren, but somehow when our 15 minutes were up, she had burned more calories than me. I was genuinely puzzled, frustrated, and a bit upset. I had done more work than she had, but she had made more progress than I had. This was the norm for our next few gym visits, until one day between pants and heavy breaths, I silently asked God, “Why am I doing double the work just to still not measure up. I’m working harder than her just to barely make it just beneath her.”
I will blog about his response another day.
That experience at the gym was a metaphor for how I was really feeling in life. That occurrence reminded me of the several instances where I competed silently for the approval, validation, and acceptance of someone who just liked my attention but didn’t like me enough to choose me. All those years of doing the most, jumping through hoops, compromising, being what he (insert several names) needed, and giving more than I should aided my need to be better than “her,” and it slowly diminished my belief that I am enough… as is.
There it is… the core of it all.
I compare myself to other women because I question if I am enough.
*hangs head in shame*
But how? How, Christen, can you not be sure that you are enough when you have such an extensive “resume,” a significant last name, and the hand of God on your life?
I sometimes don’t feel like enough because I have confused what I do for who I am, and when I don’t feel like I’m doing enough, I convince myself that I am not enough. Let me just say this is toxic on so many levels because it can lead to busyness which leaves you burnt out and vulnerable opposed to purposeful moves that leave you fulfilled. When I jump to the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages of these women, I am not seeing who they really are. I am looking at pictures, quotes, and posts of what they do and making an assumption of who they are. Then I head over to my page to look at pictures, quotes, and posts of what I do without measuring what I said or did against who I really am.
And as I typed this post, I had an epiphany.
The “her” that I am in competition with is really me.
Ladies and gentleman, it is me vs. me!
I have spent so many years putting pressure on myself to be a certain person in a certain place doing a certain thing by a certain time that I haven’t really appreciated who I am in the place that I am. Comparing myself to other women is merely a mirage for the places within myself that I am dissatisfied with.
As much as I want to do what I typically do and include you in the story, I won’t force that today. If you find yourself somewhere between my transparency and epiphanies, I pray that you can walk away knowing that you aren’t alone.
I could easily end this blog with empowering words like, “You are enough,” and “You are amazing just as you are,” but those are words that I’ve heard and spoken before. They are words that seemingly haven’t made it to the core of me. Today I am shifting myself to first believe what God says about me and also believe that I am who I am supposed to be at this time.
If there is to be a daily comparison game, it should only be to compare who I am today to who I was yesterday and applaud myself for my growth. Wasting my time in a silent competition with my peers and women who aren’t even close enough to me for me to know them well is robbing me of the joy that I should have after surviving the life that I have lived. Reading my blogs or hearing my testimony proves that I have found life despite the crappy hand that my adulthood has dealt me. I deserve to enjoy my successes without reminding myself what I haven’t accomplished.
“You are so more that what you haven’t accomplished.” I just said that in my last blog.
*sigh* I guess this blog proved that I’m not perfect… and that’s okay.
Please help me to appreciate who you have created and allowed me to be. Don’t allow me to be distracted by the mirages of the lives of others, but help me to celebrate my own reality. I pray that you will heal the places within my heart that have been damaged by years of unnecessarily proving myself. Heal me from hurtful words spoken by others and even out of my own mouth that discredited who I am at my core. I believe that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I believe that I am the apple of your eye. I believe that I am chosen. Now please help me to always know that I am enough.
I hope this helps.