It is a hard thing for me to admit, but there have been many times I have taken a ride on the comparison train. It is easy to hitch a ride on this train, but not an easy journey. It is rather bumpy and takes you through a tunnel of envy and self-pity, leading nowhere at all. It can be hard to jump off as the tunnel goes further and further into the dark, but with the right techniques and realization of what train you are riding it is possible to make it stop.I am guilty of comparing myself to those I love most. My closest friends, even family. In the past, I have acted happy for a friend, who achieved something great when secretly I was not genuine. I would feel sorry for myself, for not being in the same position, or achieving whatever they had. I am also guilty of comparing myself to complete strangers or celebrities. In a world where social media rules every spare minute of the day, looking into the best parts of others lives and comparing yours to theirs can easily become an everyday habit.In the past when I had no knowledge of how to reflect on myself, trips on the comparison train would go way too far and long. I would become more self-absorbed trying to keep up with those around me, instead of focusing on how I could be the best me. Fortunately, now I can feel when I am triggered and change my viewpoints. Practicing gratitude and surrendering to my destined path have been main helpers in stopping the train. The more I remind myself of everything I have and what I love about my life, the less I care what others have, and can be genuinely happy for their success. The more I let go of control, and let God’s plan lead my way, the more I have faith I too will have the same, similar or even better (in my perspective) experiences. Realizing that for the most part, what is shared on social media is mainly highlights of larger lives, that each have their ups and downs, puts things in perspective too. Besides here on this blog, even my Instagram and Facebook accounts only show the fun I am having, which is only a glimpse into my larger life that has its challenges too. Finally, the most important thing I have learned is that we are all so uniquely different, with different experiences, different paths, and different journeys. Understanding that no one is exactly like me makes it easy to stop comparing because it is not an equal comparison. Learning to accept myself and working towards bettering my unique qualities, creates happiness, wholeness, and comfort, freeing me from the comparison.For more tips and tools to find freedom from the comparison train, and acceptance of who you are, where you are at and what you have, read “How to Stop Envying Other People’s Seemingly Perfect Lives”, by Sonia Devine. Travel safely!
Category: True Stories
By many I have been labeled as a “perfectionist”. Believing people were getting mixed up with my high-achiever characteristics, I thought they were confused. To me, a perfectionist is someone who has a great attention to detail and did EVERYTHING perfect. I never feel like anything I do is perfect, can always be approved upon, and take myself to great lengths to do so.
The other day I decided to look up the term “perfectionist” to get a true meaning. The description is written as “a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection”. Once I thought about the definition, I noticed I never accept even my great work as perfect, always believing I fall short. Meaning I am an actual perfectionist. I thought about my tendencies to get stressed out and complicate my life when my intentions are to have a perfect result, but impossible to reach. I recognize the extent of my perfectionists negative effects on my lifestyle and stress level.
For example, last week for Halloween we had planned to have a few friends over and pass out candy to trick-or-treaters. Weeks before I had expectations as to what the night would be like and my perfectionism started slowly creeping up. I quickly got caught up with who would attend, what we would eat, what we would drink, games we would play, etc. I had ideas of 7 layer spider-web dip, homemade chili, a baked potato bar with gourmet fixings, Halloween-themed cocktails, pumpkin beer, and trick-or-treat bingo with prizes, all while having the house tastefully decorated for the big night.
As the night approached I was clever with ideas thanks to the popular social media sharing site, Pinterest. Pinterest can easily be my best friend and worst enemy. (I call it my frienmy). Pinterest is the first place to search for beautiful décor, tasty and well-prepared treats, and fun party ideas to name a few. It is where all mini-Martha Stewarts or Martha’s-in-the-making corral their domestic achievements. The problem I face is everything shared on Pinterest looks perfect, making my perfectionist tendencies spin out of control reaching for unrealistic standards.
I was caught up in creating the perfect night, and after an exhausting afternoon spent fight crowds at Party City and Michaels I felt overwhelmed. That evening my Halloween obsession turned into obsessing over the next couple of months; Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. I went from trying to create the perfect Halloween cocktail to the perfect Christmas card in a matter minutes and was swept up by anxiety. It did not take long for my husband to feel pressured by my perfection, leading us to argue about things that did not matter. When I finally fessed up about the anxiety I had over things being perfect, my husband mentioned we simplify things (at least for Halloween). Instead of all the fancy Pinterest ideas, he suggested we order pizza. It takes a lot less time, a lot less clean up and is a lot less money overall. He reminded me no one else has expectations but myself, in fact, others do not even care. I was not completely sold on the idea, but I did like the feeling of relief I felt and was able to put my mind at rest to sleep on it.
The following morning my sister-in-law shot me a text in regards to Halloween. She was asking about the food and drink situation when I told her how I had been feeling. I expressed the pressure I put on myself, and even though it was hard for me to let go of having things perfect, I knew I would enjoy myself and everyone else more if I kept things simpler. I apologized for things not being as pretty and festive as usual, that I may not have enough of everything for everyone, but it was important for me to let go. Her response was exactly what I needed to hear. She said, “It’s okay. I understand! Martha Stewart turned into an Etsy/Pinterest-perfect life has created us all to feel pressure to achieve perfectionism. Especially women and moms. But it’s hard to have that and enjoy the parole around you. You can’t have it all, and if you do you’re not doing any of it all the way.”
Her words were exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. It is true, you cannot have it all, and there must be a compromise somewhere. When it appears I achieve perfection, I am missing out on something. I know this from experience. When browsing through the fields of Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and endless amount of blogs, I am reminded to not compare myself to what is displayed to seem perfect. Nothing is perfect, and the price you pay to achieve perfection is not worth it.
You know the saying “when it rains it pours”? It is a phrase commonly used to describe when a lot of something (good or bad) happens at once. I have been reflecting on the timings of things in life and this phrase has come top of mind. I have noticed over the course of my adulthood, everything seems to happen at once, and then maybe nothing much happens at all. For example, during a solid three-year run everything MAJOR seemed to happen our lives. We got engaged, got married, got a dog, moved three times, bought a house, started jobs which helped launch our careers and finances, quit said jobs to start new adventures, started my husband’s business, and traveled to more cities, states and countries than I can count. All amazing things, and at the time it seemed as if life would never slow down. I cannot tell you how many times my husband and I would say we were waiting for a break in events.
Then came 2015. Life has definitely stayed busy this year, however slightly uneventful in comparison to previous years. It has been a year of less focus on us and more focus on others, where we have learned (and enjoyed) a lot. It has been months of hard work and dedication to our future. More than anything, it seems to be a year of waiting. We keep finding ourselves saying things like “if only something would hit now to get the business to the next level”, or “if only we could fast forward 6 months or a year to see what progresses with our house”, and “if only we had a baby”. Instead of saying “when it rains it pours”, we feel like we are “waiting for a raindrop in a drought”. (Side note, we literally are waiting for rain in this Southern California drought, no pun intended).
As we wait things do seem less chaotic and, this time, has allowed us to focus on what is important. It has also given us the opportunity to learn new things, figure out how we are going to get to the next destination, look forward to it, and savor what we have now. So instead of “waiting for a raindrop”, I am going to say we are “making hay while the sun shines”. Taking full advantage of this waiting period will get us far. Remembering how waiting made us feel will keep us grounded in the next round of chaos. I am grateful for these moments, and I know we will be able to perform our best in the ever-changing seasons of life.
A few months ago, following my 30th birthday I did something I never thought I would do. I got a tattoo! This was surprising not only to me, but to friends and family who know me as generally traditional, and straight & narrow.
The idea came up over dinner with my husband. Since turning 30, I wanted to do something a little unlike me, something fun, but not permanent. Something that made me feel a little connected to my 20’s. I did not want to cut my hair or skydive, and came up with the idea of getting a funky ear piercing (a tragus piercing to be exact). I figured if I hated it, I could always take it out and it would heal up, just like the belly button piercing I got when I was 18. After quite a few drinks I shared this idea with my husband. I told him I wanted to get the piercing that night. His response… “Ok, sounds good! We should get tattoos too!“. Shocked I unexpectedly responded “let’s do it!“, followed up with “what do we get?”.
Once we arrived at the tattoo and piercing parlor, we were not certain which tattoos we would get, so I started with the piercing first. It was a success, but I would have been damned if I was the first to get a tattoo. So up went the hubs on the tattoo chair, and I immediately saw the look of regret in his face. This was the moment I realized I put myself in a very uncomfortable situation. Since he got a tattoo I could not back down. I reluctantly went ahead and spent ten agonizing minutes having a one-inch tattoo marked permanently to my ankle.
The moment we walked out of the parlor we looked at one another speechless. It did not take long for the silence to turn into an argument about why the other did not stop us from this bad idea. We sat on our front porch for an hour before we went into the house that evening, ashamed of our decision.
The next morning I woke up crying. My husband was online searching for at home remedies to make tiny tattoos disappear(nothing works by the way- duh!). I cried for 3 days. I was so uncomfortable and did not feel like myself. I would NEVER have a tattoo or an untraditional piercing. What had I done? It felt so foreign to me, I felt foreign to me.
It took me about three weeks of reflection as to why I was having such a hard time with the decision I made. When I finally realized what was really eating away at me I started feeling better. I found it was not the tattoo I was upset about. It was the lack of thought and planning that went into it. I have always prided myself on having things well planned and well thought out. Anything I do (especially anything permanent) I put a lot of thought and effort into and definitely has meaning. (My tattoo does have intentional meaning by the way). It was the most spontaneous and out of my element thing I had ever done in my entire life, and that was what made me uncomfortable. At this moment of realization, I learned things are not so bad without a plan and a little spontaneity. I am still the same person, but with an experience different than my usual. I lived a little out of my comfort zone. Now I have a great memory never forgotten and a story fun to tell.
Each time I look down at my ankle, I smile and see more than what I thought it would mean. I also see a reminder it’s okay to live on (your) edge sometimes, to try something new, to do something without over analyzing, and just be free in the moment. You will not be seeing me do those types of things often, but when I do I will remember the time I got a tattoo and how everything turned out just fine.
Working on yourself is hard. In fact, I’ve struggled with it for a long time. There have been times when I want certain people or situations to change, and to my surprise, they stay the same. In recent years, it has become clear to me that change is not something you can ask or expect of other, change is only within yourself. Through this discovery and my passion for self-improvement, I made a conscious decision to work each day to become a better version of myself. Finding at times personal development can be uncomfortable, inconvenient and difficult, I realized the first step was to engage myself in a large amount of information available. The sources of information have been endless books, blog articles, videos, podcasts, interviews and more, created by others working on the same goal. The information I engage in provides new perspectives and inspires me to keep growing. I plan to use this blog to hold me accountable for continuing to engage in the wide amount of personal development information available. I would like to share what I learn and my experiences in this space, get through the thick of what exists and highlight what is changing me. It starts here. Welcome & Enjoy.