I scan the internet looking at the faces of authors hitting the New York Times bestseller’s list with their new releases, and I hear about mothers with businesses doing well. It makes me so happy for them because I have similar dreams. It also inspires me in a way that makes me want to sit down for lunch and learn everything they know about making a dream like that come true…or holing myself up in an empty room with music blaring and my fingers tapping away on the keys of my laptop. I feel motivated to do something big.
But then I notice that my toddler is asking for more crackers, my laundry is piled high, there are boxes in my living room, dinner isn’t made, and I’m getting tired.
And I compare.
I think about all the time they must have to devote to their work, how they must have older children in school, or have a baby that’s an incredibly good napper. My mind wonders with a thousand and one reasons why they’ve done what they’ve done and I haven’t.
It makes me feel inadequate, unaccomplished, and in a hurry to make something happen.
I usually have to sit with myself and search deep within my soul to find the truth–to remember that I am comparing my complete reality to my partial view of someone else’s.
And that’s not fair–to me nor to the person with whom I’m doing the comparing. I don’t know their struggles. I don’t know their heartaches and disappointments. I don’t know the entirety of their story. And if I do, I’m devaluing it.
Most times, the stuff worth having and celebrating isn’t easy: marriage, raising children, establishing your career, pursuing your dreams–no matter what the circumstances.
It’s like dough before it becomes bread. There’s a prepping and preheating. There’s a shaping and molding. There’s a watching and waiting. But when it’s ready, it rises to the occasion. And still, no roll, biscuit, or loaf of bread is quite the same. Each piece of dough, stretched and baked goes through its own journey to completion.
In the same way, we are all on our own journeys to do the things we feel called to do.
So as I give my daughter another handful of crackers and contemplate which item to tackle next on my to-do list, I have to tell myself I am doing the work that will shape and mold me, that I am accomplished in my own way, and that things only happen if and when they’re supposed to happen.
Getting caught up in the comparison trap isn’t difficult, but we have to learn how to stop before we find ourselves into a pit of jealousy, self-loathing and despair. I found a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson that encouraged me and helped change my focus. It says, “what lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside you.”
It’s a great reminder to look within and know our hopes, our dreams, and our journeys are just that–our own. And they are enough.