(Listen to the audio version of this article here.)
Do you have a friend who’s so beautiful that sometimes you find yourself staring, admiring? How about one who lives off of donuts and never lifts more than her purse but somehow maintains the body of a supermodel? Maybe you have a friend who always gets what she wants, and everything seems to go her way. Or what about your funny, charismatic friend who lights up a room and makes even strangers feel like they’ve been life-long friends?
Have you ever noticed your friend’s beauty, talents, opportunities, or life as a whole and then suddenly felt like you got the short end of the stick? It’s not a fun place to be, and you become susceptible to all kinds of lies. I wish my nose were smaller; then I’d be pretty. If only I had a different body type, then I’d look cute in my clothes. I wish my brain worked differently; then I’d be more successful. I wish I could make people laugh; I’m boring. Her relationship seems perfect; I’ll never find a good guy. She’s got it all together; I don’t know how she does it…
Although I hate admitting it, I’ve been there. Sometimes, still, I can fall back into this deep pool of faulty thinking. And the trouble with this water is that it’s more like quicksand, and it sucks you down, well, quick. But in my struggle to come back to the surface, I discovered a hand reaching out to pull me up: truth. Truth about my thoughts, truth about myself, and truth about my purpose. And when you realize the truth, it feels like that first gulp of air after fearing you might not make it out of the water.
Truth About My Thoughts
First, I realized that my insecurities were growing into some things that are not very pretty: envy, jealousy, competitiveness, and even, at times, an underlying level of bitterness toward the very people I love the most. They say that comparison is the thief of joy, and in this case the old saying proved true.
Comparison stole my ability to genuinely celebrate with my friends over the good things in their lives because I wanted what they had and, frankly, was feeling sorry for myself. This caused me to be the type of friend I wouldn’t want to have, one that I certainly don’t want to be.
Have you ever caught a glimpse inside your heart that made your stomach churn yet also lit a fire inside your soul to never see it again? That’s a good place to be; it’s certainly a step in the right direction!
Truth About Myself
When you’re surrounded by strong, incredible women, it’s hard not to self-evaluate. Which, I would say, is not all bad. Just don’t let your self-evaluation flip over to it’s ugly side: self-destruction.
The destructive side of comparison points out all of our “deficiencies”—the ways we don’t measure up to those around us. But here’s the deal: We weren’t created to share the same mold and measurements. Remember that lovely hand I mentioned earlier? Truth? It also has a voice, and I heard it say, “You were created perfectly—mindfully—with your own set of gifts, talents, and even areas worthy of admiration.” And that is a reality for every woman! But insecurity, comparison, and self-pity can stop up our ears so we can’t hear the truth.
They say that comparison is the thief of joy, and in this case the old saying proved true. Comparison was causing me to be the type of friend that I wouldn’t want to have.
Truth About My Purpose
Finally, I recognized that, yes, I was tired of sitting on the sidelines, but it was my job to put myself back in the game. Rather than riding the bench and watching all the good players take action, I decided to let them inspire me to learn and grow and to find my own position on the team.
Here’s what I found: There are things I have been given, areas of expertise, natural abilities, and special wirings that were placed within me and my life that are distinctive, valuable, and beautiful. And perhaps I am unable to notice at first glance because they have always been there; they don’t seem unique to me. But others notice, and thankfully I’ve had people in my life who have helped point them out. They’ve quite literally embodied that strong hand and sweet voice of truth.
The world is beautiful because it’s filled with variety and complexity. We humans take that variety and complexity to a whole new and thrilling level. If we all had the same strengths, none of that would exist and there would never be anything to admire. So, instead of trying to be like everyone else (or someone specifically), why don’t we redirect our energy? Let’s dig for our own hidden talents and abilities and work hard to refine them. Let’s grow into the woman we were designed to be.
Not only will this help us feel fulfilled in our purpose, but it will be for the betterment of us all. Individually we can make a distinguished difference in our world, but together we enhance one another’s capabilities and ultimately make the world a more beautiful, purposeful place. When we combine our gifts rather than compare them, we can do exponentially more.
Individually we all have unique specialties, but together we enhance the capabilities of one another, and ultimately make the world a more beautiful, purposeful place.
I would love to challenge you to discover your own unique gifts and talents. If you don’t know where they lie, here are some things to consider:
- What kind of things do your friends ask you to help them with?
- Ask the people who love you what they believe your strengths are.
- What do you enjoy doing that other people seem to struggle with or dislike doing?
- Consider taking some personality tests or gifting surveys.
Last, I want you to know that it’s okay if you’re still treading water in the deep end of comparison. But don’t stay there. Open your eyes and look for that helping hand; it’s strong enough to bear your weight. And once you’re out of the water and have caught your breath, go ahead and take your hands off your ears. Listen for that sweet, unmistakable voice; it will point you in the right direction.
You’ll love this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: Women and Judgment: Why We Do It and How to Stop – 057