"Comparison is an act of violence against the self"
- Iyanla Vanzant
Yes. Yes I did just quote Iyanla.
This one is a biggie because the fact of the matter is: if you are reading this, you compare yourself to other people. The fact that you clicked on this link on one of my social media profiles means that you are on social media and by default you are subconsciously comparing yourself to other people.
You make comparisons every single day.
We all do.
We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.
- 2 Corinthians 10:12
"We do not dare to classify and compare ourselves with some who commend themselves"
2 Corinthians written in like 53 AD? Back then Paul was like yo I'm not even gonna dare compare myself with people who tote around their accomplishments because what they are doing is not smart- measuring your accomplishments with other peoples accomplishments is not wise- so let me not even engage with that foolery.
But we do it every single day.
We even compare down in an effort to make ourselves feel better after we've compared up: yikes.
I'm really good at comparing myself to others: especially in the industry that I'm in.
It takes a lot of mental strength and energy to not compare and to simply celebrate the mountains of success other people in your field are making and while I am so happy for them, I'd be lying if I didn't say that comparison seeps in one way or another.
I'd compare myself to my peers and not take into account how much older than me they were, how long they've been doing what I'm doing, their personal strengths, and a whole host of other things.
I'd compare myself and completely negate my own accomplishments (which I think is even more detrimental). As if all of the work I've done, the small semblance of a career I've carved out for myself, and all of the personal growth I've made means nothing because I'm not on broadway right this very minute, or have a tv show right now.
And it'll chip away at you if you're not careful.
It'll chip away at your happiness, your peace of mind, your confidence and self trust, and your overall wellbeing.
Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.
- Matthew 12:13
(could expand on this but...maybe another post)
So ya gotta just..stop. '
Focusing on what you lack and what others have closes you off to receiving the things that you desire.
You have to take all of that energy that you spend wishing you had more, wishing that you were in a different place, that you had booked that job, that you were in that relationship, and just direct it towards yourself and your growth.
Dropping comparisons is also a practice. It will always be there and I'm not sure that we can ever totally get rid of it but you can practice combating it.
Gratitude- being thankful and grateful for all that you have will really boost your mood and open yourself up to receive more of what you desire (it's just facts wether you're spiritual or not- can not WAIT to write a post on all that) I've gotten high off of gratitude its a great time.
Watering your own grass- Focus on the things that make you happy. Do things that lift you spirits - take a hike, spend time with a friend, draw, paint, have your own dance party (these are the best)
Mindfulness- notice when you are comparing yourself to others- especially because we do it throughout the day. If you catch yourself doing it you can see it for what it is- a simple comparison- and not get swept up in it.
Self-Compassion- don't negate your work and your accomplishments. Be understanding about where you are coming from. Pat yourself on the back sometimes. Talk kindly to yourself and acknowledge all of the obstacles you have endured to get to where you are today because you're doing great! You've made it this far! go you!!
Lead with love- comparison causes fear and the only thing that can combat fear is love so lead with love every dat. Be kind, be bold and understanding, be patient. You'll feel more at ease, more brave and more freedom. All good things yay!
It's so cliche (even though I'm learning every day that cliche's are cliche's for a reason) but you are on your own timeline and your own journey. Stay disciplined, consistent, diligent, and grateful homies and we gon' all be alright.
"The most disrespected person in America is the black woman.
The most unprotected person in America is the black woman.
The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”
- Malcolm X, May 22 1962
Whatever you want to call it- let’s talk about it.
At the start of our lives, our self worth is entirely dependent on factors outside of ourselves (which is low-key crazy considering how much of an impact it has on how we function as adults). You may have been lucky enough to have grown up in a loving family that understood the importance of self worth and acceptance. You may have grown up in a neglectful home, been born into a family that didn’t stress self worth at all, or your parents may not have even been aware of the concept. We can’t choose the family that we’re born into.
To punch this out even wider we also can’t choose the society we’re born into… and America is a society whose culture (if you can call it that) is severely ill and rooted in a lack of self worth.
It’s hard to expect anything different from a country that was built on the genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement, and dehumanization of black people.
In our consumption based “culture” corporations prey on our insecurities to try to sell us things…and it works. We literally WORSHIP other incredibly flawed human beings (Yeezus? yikes) and are addicted to the self-gratifying loops of social media.
To put our western culture into perspective- the Dalai Lama doesn’t know what low-self esteem is. He literally does not understand the concept of it. He says that in Tibet, the concept of self esteem is inherent, everyone knows that they belong, that they are accepted, and that they are loved.
There are entire societies of people that don’t struggle with insecurity and acceptance.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Will you’re reflecting on that, I’ll tell you a bit about my experience with self worth.
My journey began when I was a child…much like everyone else. Thanks to growing up in an all white neighborhood, going to all white schools, attending a university severely lacking in diversity (yes I was the only black female in every single one of my college conservatory classes - usually the ONLY black person- Tisch was a hot mess), and some other personal factors, to say I had accumulated a negative self image from the mountain of childhood trauma I experienced because of the color of my skin is an understatement
"Who taught you to hate the color of your skin? Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet?"
- Malcolm X, May 22 1962
Yes. For most of my life I truly thought I was nothing. I thought that being over looked was something that I should expect out of my life because that was how it had always been. Having a lack of worth manifests itself in soooo many different ways. I had a shopping addiction, I was an insane perfectionist and had tons of anxiety about most social interactions. I judged myself for being “too white for the black kids and too black for the white kids”. I judged myself for being shy, for wanting meaningful connections but looking for them in the wrong places. I negated my core beliefs in an effort to fit in. I even overworked myself to the point of ended up in the hospital due to exhaustion because I thought that reaching milestones in my career would finally make me worthy of love and acceptance.
This isn’t a pity party - this is what I went through and the situations that I found myself in because I didn’t respect myself, my happiness, and my wellbeing.
I had spent so much time and energy chasing things that I thought would make me feel worthy that I completely lost myself…if I even knew who I was to begin with.
Losing yourself is not cute.
It is not a good look.
A funny thing about self worth is that it’s hard to know that you lack it until you start to gain it. Until you’re on the other side looking back and you can see your past with clarity.
I could have put blame on the people of my childhood that made me feel insignificant because of their own ignorance, or resent my parents for not instilling those values in me the way the I wanted them to be instilled but life isn’t fair. Life doesn’t work that way and though experiences and other people may cause you pain, it is simply up to you to heal from that pain.
It was up to me to change how I viewed myself.
So I did.
Like working out, meditation, or acting, self-esteem is a practice. It is something that you continuously do and come back too. It is a form of self-care. I now know how to be mindful of my self worth and how to strengthen it when things that happen in my everyday life start to chip away at it.
Here are some things that I strive to remind myself of on a daily basis in this crazy complicated world we live in:
I am a child of Yahweh (whatever this is for you) who only wants the best for me.
I do not let others define me based on their limited world view
Other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.
My worthiness is a birthright and not something I have to earn.
I do not compare myself to other people.
I have nothing to prove.
I am worthy of love and care.
I am beautiful.
I deserve to be loved, accepted, and respected.
And you do too :)
Alright we gotta talk about it.
This unspoken and undiscussed phenomenon that makes itself present in every day of our lives.
Whether we like it or not, it looms over us and we're never told how to cope with it, identify it, or have a relationship with it.
But before we begin- some context.
I am a Type A kinda gal. No scratch that- I am recovering Type A perfectionist which, by definition, means that I have absolutely no chill.
When I was fifteen knew e x a c t l y what I wanted out of life. The small but very well furnished house with white trim and matching shutters. A perfectly manicured lawn and two mid-sized cars; all of which I paid for with my dual degree in pharmaceutical sales and acting (I literally went into college interviews stating, with full confidence, that I would double major in chemistry and theatre because umm hello?? Plan B's people, Plan C's like...you need them). I'd have two perfect tri-lingual kids and a Princeton educated lawyer or politician husband who would defer to me for final word on any and all decisions because hello?? Why wouldn't he?
If my fifteen year old self looked at me now- a meditating, kombucha tea drinking, Bushwick dwelling, anti-capitalist- I think she would actually have a heart attack.
I lived most of my adolescent and adult life thinking that I could control everything. From the people around me and my career trajectory on my timeline to the person I would marry (HA) I needed to control it all. I compartmentalize my life so I could understand it. So I could be certain about everything in my present and my future.
But here I am at 24 and the idea of certainty is a distant fantasy.
I have also never been more happy, hopeful, and at peace in my entire life.
Do I have moments of utter panic at the psychological weight of being alive?? Sure but I'm bumpin' along. I've never bumped along before and it’s wonderful. I'm singing I'm dancing I'm telling jokes, I’m having a g r e a t time.
Okay- I'm bumpin' with intention and direction because absolutely NOT- you must set intentions for your lives fam.
Do not sleep walk through your life. Have specific visions and goals and standards but know that only thing you can truly control in this life is you. The only thing I can ground and center as I walk through life is myself. The good that I sow in my everyday life and how I handle, relate, and respond to the things I experience are entirely up to me.
How dope is that!
It shifts your perspective…doesn’t it.
Which brings me back to this lovely little word uncertainty.
"It's a zen life. Because it's uncertain. And all lives are uncertain but...actors just know it"
- Meryl Streep
I don't know what the future holds. None of us do. Your situation can change in an instant. Sure, I have convictions about my life but I truly do not know what is waiting around the corner for me. Is it terrifying? Uh YES but from where I’m standing, uncertainty is here to stay. So how do we handle it? How can we better relate to and befriend this uncomfortable feeling?
I figured out how to do this yesterday- yes - only yesterday but it clicked:
I will no longer be afraid of truly being alive and present.
I will always say yes to my life.
You gotta just lean into that feeling- that feeling of not knowing and not being sure. I've learned to just say yes to that feeling completely and allow myself to feel whatever comes up. If I want to cry I cry. If I want to scream or laugh or cringe at the uncertainty in my life, I just let myself do it. I allow myself to experience this terrifying thing completely because like being happy, or sad, or joyful, or anxious, this feeling, too, will eventually pass. And maybe what’s behind this feeling is curiosity. Perhaps grounding myself with faith that my future is bright even though I'm not necessarily where I want to be in this moment of my life is how I can nurture and build my friendship with uncertainty.
But who knows.
I guess we'll just have wait to see :)