Oh, how we would love to hate her…BUT WE CAN’T! She walks in without make-up and is still gorgeous, tanned, toned, and seemingly carefree. She has a genuine heart and radiates inner as well as outer beauty. She is NEVER late to a meeting or gathering and always has precisely the right thing to say at precisely the right time. You know who I’m talking about, right? If not, then check your pulse to make sure you’re still alive. If your pulse checks out okay and you can still see your reflection in the mirror, perhaps YOU’RE that girl other ladies are envisioning. Ah-ha! Gotcha there, didn’t I?
I’d be willing to bet five skittles and a glass of moscato that you’ve got “that girl” in mind–I WANT YOU TO FORGET HER! Wait, what??? No sweetie pie, I won’t be talking about her.
What if the person we so envy isn’t necessarily on the outside, but resides within our own skin–but at another moment in time? What if my source of comparison is the girl I USED to look at in the mirror every morning? Let’s talk about that girl we frequently look back on from the good ol’ days. The one who had so much time…she had time to do her hair and make up EVERY.DAY. She had sooo much going for her and held the world in the palm of her hand. This rather mystical creature is the OLD YOU! No, not the “old you” but the you of past times. Many of us don’t realize that perhaps the biggest culprit of our envy is the budding young, unencumbered woman that we used to be. We might idolize her, trying to keep up with the old standards we had for ourselves, and force a round peg into a very square slot. Ouch! Not only is that really uncomfortable, it has the potential to do some long-term damage to our form.
I caught myself thinking about this “old me” just this morning, as I was getting “muh haar did.” The hair dresser asked me why I was making such a change. I just shrugged and said, “Well, my hair is thinning as I’m getting older and ……, and …….., and ………” (Remember that according to Audrey Hepburn, I am qualified to wear pearls. See Let’s Lighten Up, Shall We?) You name it and I had an excuse. Although, there is nothing wrong with me wanting to lighten my hair and chop a bunch of it off, I found myself talking about how I USED to look. What I looked like on my wedding day, 15 years and three children ago. I started spouting off at how I finally have time to do my hair LIKE I USED TO.
Ladies–hear my heart! I love to pamper myself every once in a while and treat my hair, hands, and feet to a bit of tender loving care. I am definitely not coming against anyone who colors, cuts, deep conditions, straightens, perms, or even grows dreads. My contention is with thinking that I’ve conquered the beast of comparison and yet judge myself for that which I was and am no longer. Competing with the girl who can do a 3-minute plank without even dropping a tear of sweat…NORMAL, right? But competing with our old self…WHAAAA?
One Wednesday morning, I shared that at one time in my life, I was so tidy that I found joy in mopping the porch of our apartment. (Hey, don’t judge!) Joel used to praise how hard I worked to keep a clean house, calm and orderly, so that there was a place for everything and everything was in its place. Boy, has it been a while since I’ve heard him say that! I used to consider that a report card for how well I was A+-ing my duties as Lady of the House. Until recently, I’d look back at that Tiffany and scream, “What happened???”
Well, I’ll tell ya what happened. Fifteen years of memories happened, moving-house happened, graduation from college happened, three children happened (which is pretty miraculous after being diagnosed with secondary infertility), homeschooling happened, and the list goes on and on. Are these excuses? Possibly. Did I, ahem, let certain things go as life changed? Certainly, but I would not trade the person I am and the life I have now with my fantasy of who I once was.
I’d like to challenge you (and myself) to take a good look at how you talk about yourself, and let’s up that to how you talk TO yourself. Are you making jokes about the body you had when you were just married and how all these kids made certain parts of your body sink waaay too close to the equator than you’d like? Do you find yourself thinking, “Whelp, this is as good as it gets for now?” Well, is it so bad if this IS as good as it gets for now? Sure, it may not be who we WERE but is it really THAT BAD? If it is, then do your best to do something about it. If not, then rest in the fact that you indeed ARE NOT who you once were…and I’ll venture to say that in many respects, YOU’RE BETTER!
I don’t have any twelve-step program on how to address this form of comparison. I wish I did and I could certainly take the time to come up with a list, but I’d just be filling empty space with more empty space. I guess I’m feeling like this post is somewhat of a cliff-hanger so I think I’ll sum it up with: Just do the best you can with whatever you’ve got and let God’s grace cover the rest.
If you have any tips on how you deal with comparing yourself to the you of another time, let me .
God bless you all and have a wonderful weekend!