They say that comparison is the thief of joy. I am finding this to be soundly true these days.
So, I turned 40 a few weeks ago and as a vacation/birthday present/way to celebrate all things Fermented being done and out there, Dude and I went to Prague in the Czech Republic. Simply put, it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Positively gorgeous! So much so that it seemed fake. You know like that Disney-fake or Las Vegas-fake where everything is just a little too staged and perfect and pretty? Well, Prague is the real deal. My puny iPhone photos cannot even come close to doing it justice.
I didn’t think it to be true, but I guess when you turn 40, you get a little introspective. I thought I’d burst into my new decade with gusto! Nope. I’m being a little more measured about my enthusiasm and consciously or unconsciously, I am finding myself taking stock of where I am in my life – what I’ve done, what I want to do, where I’m going, where I’ve been. All that.
Here’s what I’ve come up with:
I’m should-ing all over myself.
This is anything but a complaint, but it’s hard to be around people who do things so well.
I have friends and friends and friends and friends (and tons more!) who are great at what they do. These people are fabulous cooks, health pioneers, photographers, bloggers, writers, and entrepreneurs who are actively doing things that change people’s lives. And they’re doing it beautifully – both aesthetically and metaphorically speaking.
Plus, my husband is a genius (literally) who is very accomplished at his job and loves it.
This is my way of saying that I feel the pressure to live up to the company I keep. Don’t get me wrong, THIS IS DEFINITELY A GOOD THING. That deserves all caps. I am not complaining that I exist in a circle of people who are smart, accomplished, beautiful, trendsetters. It’s just that I haven’t exactly found my place amongst them yet.
I am finding it very difficult to reconcile who I am as a private person with who I am as a professional/athlete/friend. I look at what these people are doing around me and I tell myself, “You SHOULD be doing that.”
You should be posting on your blog more.
You should be doing more fermenting.
You should be better at social media.
You should be taking better photographs.
You should post more recipes.
You should be out there winning your age group in all these races you run.
You should be deadlifting 225 pounds.
You should be on the New York Times bestsellers list.
You should be faster/stronger/smarter/(insert anything here).
You should be holding webinars.
You should be giving lectures.
You should be selling more books.
You should __________.
I’m not doing myself any favors. In fact, the result of this rampant “should-ing” has been me pretty much dropping off the face of the Internet for a few weeks. I did it to myself. I have been comparing myself to those around me and it’s only made me upset with who I am. It’s taken away from the joy I feel with who I’ve become, what I can do, what I’ve already accomplished, and my potential to do more.
So yeah, comparison IS the thief of joy.
I’ve lost the joy I feel when I am doing MY thing – health coaching, talking food, posting stuff here, interacting with you guys on Facebook and Instagram – because I’ve been preoccupied with comparing my success to others.
I’ve lost the joy to go out and run because I’m too busy telling myself that I should be faster like all those people I see in my running club.
I’ve become disinterested in CrossFit because I can’t walk on my hands across the gym and I can’t lift as much as the other (younger!) people there.
And now I’m a bit mad at myself for letting this sense of competition get in the way of my own happiness. That’s not what life is about. That’s not what I’M about.
So the should-ing stops today. I’m going to do what I want to do, in my fashion, at my speed, at my weight.
I’ll be seeing you here on the blog and around my various social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram [my fave!], Twitter, Pinterest) but it will be at my speed and in my style. I hope that works for you too.