I’ve heard this advice before. Hell, I’ve given this advice.
Don’t compare your worst to someone else’s best.
The moment we start to compare ourselves, we stop appreciating our own gifts and accomplishments. Because we don’t do a fair comparison. We do match up our worst days to someone else’s best, and then we are disappointed when we come out as not good enough.
But what’s the alternative?
Do we compare ourselves to other people’s shortcomings? Well, we could, but that would be a pretty crappy way to live.
Do we learn to compare our best to someone else’s best, so that at leas it’s a fair fight? Well, we could, except that many of us seem to be missing a wire in our brains that makes those kinds of comparisons easy. Throw in a case of PMS or plain old self doubt and that task is flat out impossible.
I think, instead, I’ll practice comparing my present to my past.
Baby Britt has adorable baby cheeks and arms and sockets-where-wrists-should-be. I want to eat her up! She is exactly, perfectly, what a baby Britt should be.
But Today Britt knows how to use a toilet. Hooray for me!
Little Kid Britt vs. Today Britt
Little Kid Britt, I think, wins the award for cutest Britt ever. This was definitely my best chance at winning any kind of photo or beauty contest. And Little Kid Britt hadn’t quite figured out yet that there was something about her that made her look different than everyone else. I wonder if it’s that not-yet-knowing that makes her so damn cute.
This version of Little Kid Britt also hasn’t learned about things like abuse or divorce. She has no idea what it means to live with an addict or how much it hurts to think you’re not good enough. I’m pretty sure it’s that not-yet-knowing that makes her look so happy.
But Little Kid Britt also doesn’t yet know how strong she is. She doesn’t realize that she is smart and brave and that she will someday be more than enough for two little kids of her own.
Bigger Kid Britt is starting to figure out all of the ways in which she does not quite fit. She feels awkward about the way she looks and the things that go on inside her house when no one is around. But she loves the crap out of her momma and her little brothers.
Today Britt still struggles from time to time with the ways in which she does not quite fit, but she’s much happier with the way she looks. The things that go on insider her house when no one else is around are what bring her the greatest joy. She still loves the crap out of her momma and her little brothers.
I don’t think 16 year old anyone realizes how good they’ve got it. I was certainly no exception. 16 Year Old Britt thought she was fat in her size 5 jeans, standing on a bridge in Venice with her Nana. She couldn’t even fathom a world without her Nana in it.
Today Britt lives with the memory of watching her Nana die. It lives beside the other painful memories of death and loss and your world being turned upside down. But Today Britt knows that she has survived all of those dark days and lived to laugh again, and that knowledge gives her a deep sense of hope that 16 Year Old Britt could never have imagined.
Just Married Britt was scared but optimistic. She was absolutely certain that her marriage would work out perfectly if she could keep teaching Jared how to behave properly. She was also absolutely certain that she was always right.
Today Britt really wishes she could go back in time and punch Just Married Britt in the face. And then she would drag her to a relationship counselor and make her learn basic communication skills. Today Britt keeps her marriage counselor on speed dial and only feels a little disappointed when she has to make a call for a follow-up appointment.
Just Moved to Florida Britt was making major changes in her life. She changed homes, changed jobs, and had to learn how to live without family and friends nearby. She was certain that making enough big changes would help her finally be happy. Just Moved to Florida Britt didn’t know about the oncoming battle with depression that she would come frighteningly close to losing.
Today Britt understands that happiness is not a place, and daily anti-depressants are an essential part of her normal. She’s good with that.
I don’t have it all figured out yet, and there are still lots of things I want to learn and see and do. But it’s impossible not to look back at the last 31 years and be amazed – proud even! – of the progress that’s been made.
How have you changed over the years? What would you discover if you compared yourself to only yourself?