The Thief of Joy

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013
I want to take a chance and write about something very personal that happened to me a few months ago.  I’m not sure what kind of a reaction this will bring, but I feel it might be therapeutic for me to revisit this particular experience.

I don’t know about you, but there are some people in my life, present or past, that have always made me feel inadequate.  Simply by being around them I immediately feel like my education isn't good enough, my fashion sense is out of whack, my relationships are all meaningless, or that I don’t have my life as together as they do.  Of course this is all totally unfounded because none of those things are true.  (Well, maybe the fashion thing, but that’s an entirely different story.)  Ever since I can remember these particular people have been able to cut me down in a matter of seconds and it seems like I can’t recover.

Recently I spent some time with a person like this and after only five minutes of talking (and having a fairly decent conversation) my inner voice was in a downward spiral and I just couldn't recover.  This caused a major fight with myself and brought a negative tone to the entire evening.  I found myself not being able to enjoy the company or even give this person the chance to change my mind.  Things got out of hand and nearly everyone was left uncomfortable and angry.

After a few hours away from this person, I started to feel ashamed of how terribly I had reacted to the situation.  I had reverted back to my insecure high school ways, lashed out, and gotten angry when I should have just excused myself and taken a moment to remind myself of quite possibly the greatest quote for situations like this:

Comparison is the thief of joy.

-Theodore Roosevelt

I think one of the greatest lessons that anyone can learn is simply - life is not a race.  I constantly have to remind myself not to compare my life to others - no one is ahead or behind, people just have different journeys.  Some people my age might be married, have kids, have a successful career, or be living their own adventure by traveling the world.  Just because I feel behind or even ahead, does not mean that one of us is better off.  I’m guilty of both sides of this issue - I've considered myself worlds ahead of some people, while I’m still catching up to others - but  it’s time I realized that in the end it’s not about what you have or what you've done , it’s about being happy.

And I have come to realize that I am incredibly happy.  So now when I encounter these people  who seem to tear me down, read a Facebook post that makes me question where I am in my journey, I’m going to think about my amazing and supportive family, the opportunities that getting my Master’s will open up for me, my incredible relationship with C, and the great hope and potential that I see in the future.

Are you guilty of comparing your journey to others?  How do you handle the feelings that come after?
10 comments on "The Thief of Joy"
  1. "I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am” -- John Newton

    Gracie, you're Amazing!!!

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  2. Definitely needed that quote, not just today, but seriously every day of my life. I am super guilty of this, and Pinterest (especially) does not help. My main comparisons are a) fitness/shape/style/fashion, b) people's travels/adventures (at least in Europe), and c) all the weddings/marriages. I know I shouldn't compare but it's so hard not to!!

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  3. I love to read your posts. You always give an opportunity to see a different picture.

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  4. Thanks, Dad! I learned everything I know from my amazing parents.

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  5. Seriously. It is so hard to remember sometimes. Glad to know I'm not the only one who feels this way, though. As always, love your comments!

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  6. I admire your honesty and self-awareness, Gracie. :-) I've had that struggle many, many times. Here's one from Mikhael Barishnakov.... "I don't try to dance better than anyone else, I only try to dance better than myself." So easy to say, but often so hard to do!

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  7. Gracie, I'm 51 and struggle with this. Thank you for sharing. You write, as Melissa says, honestly and also directly to the point. Hope you got Daddy's word play - John Newton authored the famous hymn, Amazing Grace. You are amazing, beautiful Gracie.

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  8. Thanks for sharing this.

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  9. What a great post. I still do it. I still know better. I still try not to. But sometimes I still do it. And I think I'm going to be okay with my progress today. Your dad seems pretty cool. Lisa

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