"Nobody likes me."
"I'm not good at anything."
Have you ever said either of those to yourself? They're familiar taunts, even two decades later. The lines have barely registered the last ten years.
After all, I don't really believe that anymore. Being so far removed from my past depression, I'm not sure I ever did. Except there were years where I did not know how to brandish truth when the lies came.
This chorus wells here and there. I'm used to flicking the words away.
"Nobody likes me." Well, that's not true. In the last week, you snuggled with your niece-in-love, spent time catching up with an old coworker, had a last minute dinner with your best friend and her family, made fried pickles for new friends, and grabbed coffee with a few others. A month ago you "raced" around your hometown trying to spend time with as many dear ones as possible. There are plenty of people who like you all over these United States.
"I'm not good at anything." Again, not true. Look around at your house- the photographs and canvas on the walls testify to your creativity. Remember the essay included in the anthology and positive response to your blog posts. Just think of how people rave about your chili and tell you how your advice made a difference.
You are distinctly you. Let that be enough.
And with one word, the true source of discontent comes into focus.
Enough. At the heart of these statements is the concern I'm not enough- good enough, funny enough, sassy enough, talented enough.
This battle comes down to comparison.
And here I thought I'd learned and grown so much.
The first step in any battle is knowing your enemy. I'm well aware I have potential to be my biggest fan or greatest foe. I know my triggers and how to counter them. I delve into my cache of Truth as needed. But I've grown weary of dealing with the same lies and wondered why they continue their assault, given the way they ping back from my armor. They don't stick- they never stick anymore- so why do they still come?
Because it doesn't come down to self-esteem anymore. It comes down to the dark art of comparison. Something we're all dreadfully skilled at doing.
At what point do we learn to compare ourselves to others?
Comparing can lead to feelings of smug superiority or utter deficiency. Neither is good for us. We wrap ourselves up in a false sense of entitlement. Our reaction ignores the hard work someone might have undertaken to reap the rewards or the absolute blessing bestowed on another.
Haven't we all experienced such hard-fought rewards and undeserved blessings at some point?
I'm not surprised to be talking myself off the so-called ledge again. I have a bunch of friends with exciting things going on in their lives. I'm happy for them. But in the still, deep part of myself, a seed of discontent planted. It's easy to get caught up in the "when will it be my turn?" and "why does that never happen for me?" and "how on earth do they get so many awesome opportunities?!?!?"
Honestly? It's ridiculous to feel any of this right now. I myself have an exciting opportunity before me. Added to that, this sense God is preparing me for something good.
So why turn to exaggerated statements? How do I put off the comparisons and recenter myself?
I'm adding comparison-related tools to my bag of tricks. It might be as simple as avoiding social media for a day or two until I can unbegrudgingly count my blessings again. It might be as difficult as talking my way through the jealousy with a trusted friend until I get to the root.
It might be as healing as coming before God once again and saying, "help."
How do you deal with comparison?
This post is a part of The Insecurity Project.