I was always aware that things were different. Yet, as a young child, it seemed easier to ignore it. But then, it grew. I was always wondering why things were different. Why did I not look like the other girls in class? Why didn’t we have the same things that others did? If there ever a constant companion in my life, it was this.
It was the roots of envy, and it was taking a hold of me slowly. I continued to be envious of people throughout my life. Although I worked to achieve things on my own, it wasn’t enough. I felt that every accomplishment I made was marred with mistakes.
Arrested (Career) Development
In my career, I had believed myself to be a high achiever. I held myself to high standards and put in a lot of effort to get to where I am. It felt like I was on my way. Then, it changed. In hearing of other people’s accomplishments, I felt envious. Perhaps, I wasn’t doing as well as I thought. I felt disillusioned, working in what I believed to be arrested development. Did I just plateau too early in life? Why can’t I be like those people and get ahead? Why am I being left behind?
Picture Perfect Family
When motherhood came, I was already telling myself that I wasn’t fit for it. I didn’t think I had any maternal instincts. I saw picture perfect friends, with their Pinterest lives I wasn’t them. I didn’t know how I could be. Their families were always smiling, and doing amazing things together. I didn’t think they had problems. Their children were smart, beautiful and advanced. I envied their life. I envied their perfect homes, while I sat in perpetual rental life. I envied their seemingly financially set lives, while I wonder if I could ever be debt free. Meanwhile, I felt like I was struggling as a parent. Am I a failure for not providing the same type of family life?
Perhaps there was only one point in my life where I was happy with the way I looked. For that amount of time, I didn’t even think about other people. But, before and after that, I was wrought with envy on how I could never look like my much thinner and prettier friends. I envied how clothes looked like they fit perfectly. I envied how they looked in pictures. I envy the way that they just looked healthy. Why couldn’t I look like them? Why did I have to be so big and disgusting?
I have to tell you, that envious feeling is carnivorous. it is a thief. It ate away my sense of reality. It stole my ability to be happy and thankful for what I have. Let an envy feeling take hold, and it can damage your confidence and well-being. In order to avoid allowing envy to take hold, I had to really dig deep and figure out why I was feeling so envious. The one thing that really lead to it all was comparison. I was unfairly comparing myself to others.
It’s hard to compare yourself to others. Everyone has their own background story. Most of which, you will never know.
In my career, all I could see were the opportunities and the promotions that others were getting. Everyone else. But, what did I know about their jobs? What am I to say about their abilities and their responsibilities? Was I privy to the work they did to get there? Yes, some people are handed things. But, many people aren’t. Many people put in the work too.
It’s not hard to compare, but you just can’t. In my case, I choose to look at the growth opportunities and perks of my own career path and go from there. I have to constantly remind myself of my end goals, and that I am doing what I can to get there. If I’m not going at the speed I want, griping about my situation isn’t going to get me anywhere. If I don’t like something, I need to look into ways that I can change it.
In parenthood, if you ask those same picture perfect families, they will tell you honestly, their life is a mess. They have their picture perfect moments, but in the background, there is always something. I fret that my son doesn’t speak like the other children. Yet, those same parents are dealing with their own range of issues, from picky eaters to health issues. We all are a part of #teamnosleep and #thattantrumlife. It’s just that some of us don’t show it, or, we were lucky to take a quick break from the team.
I sit here in my apartment, wondering if I will ever own a beautiful home like my friends. But, their situations are different. Some had help. Some worked extremely hard and saved everything to buy their home. Some bought during a good market and were able to flip it. The situations were all different. There’s nothing I can change with my situation when it comes to that. All I can do is find a way to make my place, a home. Ownership or not, it’s the home piece that matters.
Self-image is a tough one. I am still struggling with it. I know that going back to my old lifestyle isn’t going to fly this time. But, again, nothing is going to change if I wallow in shame and eat cookies everyday. People look the way they do for different reasons. Some people are just blessed with great genes. A lot of people put work into their health. I just have to get back on the bandwagon and do the same.
In writing this all, I am practicing something important. I am being self-aware, and self-compassionate. I am aware that there are things that are different in my life. But, I am also aware that my life is not theirs. We all have our own stories. I need to be more compassionate, and less critical. When I start there, I can learn to change what I don’t like, and celebrate what I do.