Listen. Think. Speak. Write.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Comparison Epiphany

So, I had an epiphany.  Okay, fine, not really because this isn’t something I didn’t already know but hey, reminders are always good.
Remember how in my last blog I talked about how my friend told to get over my competitiveness in regards to running races because “Someone will always be faster?”

Well, duh!  That means I will probably always be faster than someone else, too.  I admit that at first the competitive monster in me rejoiced.  I win! I win! I win!
Then, my husband reminded me of these words from the Desiderata:

I completely get and appreciate this sentiment.  However, I’m not convinced it’s the comparison itself that’s bad but our reaction to it.  After all the next line is, “Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.”
Sometimes (maybe even often), the difficulty is that we don’t recognize our own achievements without comparison.  Yes, of course, it’s great if you can compare to your own progress, but since many of us are our own worst critics, that can be a challenge.  

I’ve been a part of several writing critique groups.  One of the best parts to me is that we are all at different places, and we all bring something important to the conversation.  Through reading someone else’s work, I can better recognize the progress of my own writing as well as improvements that are still needed. 
When I’m out running and I pass someone going slower, I don’t think, “ha, see you sucker.” However, I do allow myself a second to note how much I’ve shaved off my own time.  I try to offer a smile of encouragement instead.  When someone passes me, I can take stock and ask, “Could I run faster today?” Whether the answer is yes or no, I am using the comparison to enjoy my achievements as well as my plans. 

For this week anyway, I am actually delighted that people are faster and slower than I.  I’m thrilled about what I’ve mastered as a writer and ready to tackle the umpteen million things I haven’t. 
Mostly, I like the idea that we’re kind of all along this spectrum of life and learning together, and I’m going to try not to let “comparison” lead me to vanity or bitterness but to motivation and inspiration instead. 

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