Compare and Contrast

Compare and contrast.  If there was a theme to Mr. Tymrak’s tenth grade Honors History class, it was that.  Compare and contrast.

Every assignment could be boiled down to those two simple words.  Every lesson required us to compare and contrast people, situations, policies.  Find the similarities and the differences.  Lay them out.  Intertwine them, link two dissimilar things together, and then find a way afterwards to tear them apart.

I find that I do that a lot.  Compare and contrast.  Except what I am comparing isn’t the social, political or economic ramifications of the Dred Scott decision or the Anti Trust Act.  No, I’m comparing myself to others.  And true to the insecurity that has always been bubbling up inside of me, I tend to find myself on the short end of the comparison.

I’m an equal opportunity comparer.  I will spend ten minutes on Facebook or Google comparing myself with girls I went to high school with.  Did they achieve more than me?  Are they thinner than me?  Do their posts show a happier marriage or more contentment with their lives?  Almost always the answer is yes, because when I’m engaging in self flagellation, I’m going for the gold.  I’m not going to look at the girl who moved down south and just divorced husband number three.  No, I’m going to look after my friend that started her own publishing company or the one that successfully runs her own insurance agency while balancing several kids and a husband and all that entails.

Or, I’ll compare myself with the other bloggers I follow.  I initially went to Roni’s site for information and motivation about how to lose weight, but now I look at her, six whole years younger than myself, and feel like I’ve missed a step or five.  She’s working from home making a living writing, has a supportive husband, two cute kids and has managed to keep most of the weight she became famous for losing off.  Or Katie, who has suffered major tragedy, but through it all has built a successful career and has a wonderful, insanely happy marriage.  Or Sprogblogger, who not only writes but is married to a writer, and is adequately in awe of all of her blessings.  Every time I read their wonderful writing, I compare myself….what did they do that I didn’t?  Which thing did they do that I didn’t that made them so much more where I wish I was?

And of course I compare myself with my girlfriends.  Who has a bigger house, a happier marriage, better behaved children, better time management.  This is the worst of all of my comparisons, because then I find myself withdrawing myself from them, just a bit.  Not entirely, not completely, but sometimes for a day or a week until my funk passes.  Or until one of them picks up a phone or stops by, because they know me.  And they love me, despite my insecurity, my comparing, my melancholy.

It’s a bad habit, this comparing.  I know it is.   I know that there are wonderful things about me, and that the only person I should be comparing myself to is myself.  To improve.  To move forward.  To appreciate all that I have, and am. Because I have grown, over time.  I have accomplished, and achieved, and learned, and survived.  A million times, in ways large and small.  So what’s with all the insecurity I still engage myself in?

What if I didn’t compare and contrast?  What if instead I could try and learn from all of those people who have inspired my envy?

It’s a goal worth striving for.

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