I’ve been a little down for the past two weeks. Chris and I were going through some stuff that I’m not quite ready to share yet. I’ve had a terrible cold. We’re closing in on a big standardized writing test for my students in the next week, and I’m worried about them. And on top of it all, I’ve been missing my dad more than normal. I just feel all out of whack. My house is a mess, my purse is a mess, and my hair is a mess. It’s just been a few of those weeks, you know?
I’m really trying to focus on joy this year. And that’s all well and good when things are well and good. But it’s a lot darn harder to hold on to that joy when things are messy.
One of the things I’m really struggling with are comparisons. When I am truly happy and everything is in a good place, it’s very easy for me to be confident in what I am and what I have. But when those periods of unrest come, one of the things I struggle with is comparing myself to others and then feeling guilty. Honestly, that is the root of my problems, I think. I’ll be just fine with what I have, and then I’ll see someone else do it differently – not even better, just different – and I’ll start to question myself. Did I do that right? Could I have done that better? Should I have done that different? Why is their way so much better? And so on, and so on.
I go through low points, like everyone else. Nothing major. Just the normal ebbs and flows of life. And when I’m down, it’s usually anxiety that has brought me low. I’m anxious about something that’s unresolved or unsettled in my mind. And at the root of that anxiety are comparisons to others and even to my own self. I get really frustrated with myself over it, too. Which leads to more self doubt. Which leads to more comparisons. Which leads to more anxiety.
It’s exhausting, I tell you!
Right now a major source of real comparison for me is running. I’ve basically stopped running. I get out maybe once a week, if that. And I don’t even enjoy it anymore. I don’t enjoy it because I’m comparing where I am now to where I used to be. I used to be able to run six or seven miles at a time. Now, I’m back down to two at the most. And even then I feel like I’m dying. It wouldn’t really be such a big deal for me to start running again if I could just let go of comparing myself to a year ago. A lot has happened since then. And it’s okay for me to let my body take a break. But carrying this guilt around with me over it defeats the purpose of a break. Now, I no longer feel rested and rejuvenated, like a good break will do for you. I feel guilty and frustrated.
I’ve also been comparing myself to other moms, which does no one any favors. I see other choices they make in their family and I wonder if I’m making the right ones in mine. And then I sit up all night questioning and worrying about my kids and my parenting, when the reality is that I’m a damn good mother. In fact, I’m the perfect mother for my kids. If only that little voice in my head that tells me to look over there at that other family would just shut up and sit down.
I heard Joel Osteen say one time that you are living the right life for you. That if you picked yourself up and put yourself down into someone else’s life with the exact same circumstances as they had, it still would not work out right for you like it had for them. Likewise, if someone came into your life and stood in your exact same shoes, your life would not work out for them like it has for you. Because their life was created for them, and your life is created for you. So, coveting someone else’s circumstances is silly because those are not your circumstances. They were never intended to be your circumstances.
I’m trying to remind myself of that this week. That my life is wonderful, as it always has been. And that everything is how it should be. Even the low days. Those are supposed to be there. Even the mornings when I get so mad at myself because I won’t get out of bed to go run. Those mornings are supposed to be there. Even the kids throwing up all over the dinner table (totally happened tonight… not cool…) and stepping on the Legos in the middle of the night. Those things are supposed to happen. Because that’s my life.
So, I can’t afford the nicest things, and sometimes I serve dinner out of a box, and my pants fit tighter than they did last month. Those are all part of my life. And I truly, deeply, passionately love my life. Even those parts of it that I compare to others.
What I have is more than enough. And that’s enough for me.