There’s No Comparison

Another post inspired by your comments…

In A State of Ignorant Bliss I told you that for an entire week I turned off everything that had an on/off switch.  The Writing Goddesscaught me in a big fat lie.  My camera did require power…and I used it…a lot.  It was too hard to resist photographing someplace as beautiful as the Caribbean in late January when there was a blizzard back home.

I’ll honestly admit that after looking at the collection of pictures, I’m critical of every image of myself.

  • Where did all those freckles come from?  Oh gosh; I hope they’re just freckles and not age spots.
  • Why did I wear such an ugly shirt?
  • Are those veins I see popping out of my hands?!? 

Look for yourself.  You might see a happy woman standing in front of an interesting rock.  I see hand veins. 

Being on the beach in a bathing suit, for an entire week, gives ample opportunity for a person to compare herself with thousands of other bodies.  And I compared, and compared, and compared some more.  You’d think that by mid-life a woman would stop with the superficial self-critical comparisons.  I didn’t used to do it that often, but recently I’ve been doing it more and more.  Ya see, about a year ago people started to say this to me…

You look so good!…for your age.

When did that last part start to get tagged on to an otherwise uplifting compliment?

The shock of all shocks was the back-handed compliment that I got from someone who I hadn’t seen since high-school.  He said:

Hi!  Nice to see you again…you’ve held up well.

What the hell is that supposed to mean?  Have I reached the age where I should be breaking down?  Geese man, I’m only 40.  Wait another few decades and then let me know what you really think.   I’m not a plastic coated Barbie Pirate Girl.

Comparisons are not always bad.  In fact, I like to compare myself to others as a way of self-motivation.  If they can do it, so can I!  By keeping company with people who I consider better than me in some way, I often get inspired to keep moving ahead…to continue improving…to be my personal best.  I see them out in front of me and I pick up my pace.  I move forward with a little more gusto.

When comparisons turn bad is when that little voice inside your head converts them into a negative thought about yourself.  She’s/he’s  more _______ than me.  I’ll never be as _______ as her or him. 

My own negative inner voice usually attacks when I’m making a physical comparison…and that’s just plain superficial.  If you tend to do this too, remind yourself that you are much more than your body.  Your body simply carries your BACKBONE around. 

Your physical self needs to be healthy and strong and it is your responsibility to make it so, but you will never look like or be someone other than yourself. When you are only trying to be the same or better than someone else, you are totally missing the mark on your own true potential.

Cut out the negative inner voice that comes with comparing and contrasting.  Use comparisons as a way to motivate yourself to move forward…to grow…to evolve…and make self-improvements.  It’s a much better use of that little voice inside your head.

What one thing about yourself do you want to work on improving?  Do you think drawing a comparison to someone else would be motivating or defeating?

If you liked this post you may also like Funny Mirrors and Taking a Compliment.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. I think drawing comparisons to similar things and attainable things is healthy. It can set up realistic goals and provide motivation, yes. But the key to that, IMO, is realistic and attainable.
    There is a lot of friendly competition and comparison going on at my CrossFit gym. We use each others milestones as a way to push ourselves, but I’m realistic about the fact that I probably won’t ever lift what a 22 year old man does, and I probably will never out run the 25 year old experienced distance runner. But there are a number of people there who are about my level and we compare achievements often as a way to spur us on to higher heights.

    Reply

  2. Good points Jill – maybe us mid-lifers shouldn’t be so struck when someone tells us that we are doing well for our AGE. Because honestly, I wouldnt want to go back to being 25 again. Life just keeps getting more and more interesting. I asked my grandma once what was the best decade of her life. She said “all of them.”

    Reply

  3. Oops, wasn’t trying to bust your chops when I noted you must have had a digital camera! (Not really the same “plugged in” as calling and Tweeting and texting and so forth, truly!)

    I *do* see a happy-looking woman in front of an interesting rock.

    A friend of mine had a g-f who was an alcoholic, and apparently very proud of the fact that she would “always” get carded in certain bars, though she was approaching 40. Well. #1, she’s in a BAR – it’s DARK in there. #2 – Most smart bartenders know that women do tend to be sensitive about their age, and THEY WORK FOR TIPS. So comments about age… I take them with a big grain of salt, in EITHER direction. And IMO, it’s ridiculous for a woman to want to “pass” for 21 when she’s 40, or stars help us, 50 or older.

    Even if you look younger than your age, physically, there’s a certain maturity and calmness and beauty that occurs as a woman experiences life, that a young, frantic, tossed-about-by-her-emotions woman can’t match. Think Sophia Loren and Helen Mirren. Or even Angelina Jolie, now, compared with Angelina Jolie, 10-15 years ago.

    I’m never going to look like Sophia Loren – she’s a dainty, olive-skinned brunette, and I’m a tall, wide-hipped, pale-skinned, blonde, but I would love to attain that *glow* she exudes. *That* goal just might be reachable. I think the question is, do I look good and feel good for ME?

    Reply

    • I couldn’t have said it better myself. You really ARE a writing goddess!

      “Even if you look younger than your age, physically, there’s a certain maturity and calmness and beauty that occurs as a woman experiences life, that a young, frantic, tossed-about-by-her-emotions woman can’t match.”

      I have a few younger friends and follow some younger bloggers that I greatly admire. I’m always thinking to myself – I can’t wait until these girls have another ten or twenty years under their belts. Watching them transform their youthful energies into a mature *glow* will be interesting to watch. Some women have an inner light that shines very brightly. Having the *glow* as a goal is such an AWESOME idea.

      Reply

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