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The Culture of Comparison

March 6, 2018

 

In doing research for some topics for the Sparkling podcast, I came across a book title that spoke to me. The book, by Kay Wills Wyma, is called, “I’m Happy for You (Sort of... Not Really).” When I saw it, I laughed. But when I read the summary of the book on Amazon, I bought it immediately.

 

You see, I’ve been struggling lately. Personally. Professionally. Emotionally. Physically. Mentally. And because I live (and work) in the world of social media, I’m constantly perusing my social media feeds -- the place where everyone seems to have it all together. Except me.

 

Instead of being genuinely happy for my friends when they post about their vacations, promotions, pregnancy announcements, and so on, I find myself jealous. Why can’t I afford to travel the world? Why haven’t I gotten a promotion yet? Why am I not a mother yet?

 

I’m happy for them. Sort of…

 

Not really.

 

Thanks to this book and some deep personal reflection, I realize that I’ve become a slave to comparison. Not only do I constantly compare myself to other people (friends, models, millionaires, famous people, etc.), but I’ve realized that I compare myself to what I would consider is the “perfect” version of me. I compare myself to where I see myself in 10 years. I compare myself to the person I thought I would be at age 26. And I never ever measure up.

 

I’ll never be 5-10 and a size XS. I wasn’t born into an overly-wealthy family. I can’t sing like Carrie Underwood. There are so many things that I am NOT, and I’m learning to be okay with that.

 

My name is Katie Gwinn Hewitt and I’m pretty darn average, but I have a great life. I have a roof over my head and a job that truly makes me happy. My husband and my family love me unconditionally. I am healthy and my bills are paid on time. I drive a safe and reliable car. I just bought a new pair of headphones that I really like, and two new dresses.

 

I also have a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree and I live in a country that allows me the freedom to do almost anything that I choose. My life isn’t perfect, but I live in a world that so many others would be jealous of.

 

The friends and family members that I follow on social media do NOT have it all and are NOT perfect - no matter how many filters they use. Chances are, they doubt themselves just like I do and compare themselves just like I do, but the biggest thing I’ve learned is that my happiness doesn’t have anything to do with their happiness. My goals shouldn’t change because of what other people have or say or do or feel. My self-worth is not determined by anyone other than myself. If I am truly happy and content, then nothing I see in person or on social media should change that.

 

Once I realized this, I felt happier. Honestly, the effect was almost immediate. I am happy that my friends from college have the opportunity to travel the world and I really do hope they have a great time. My priorities are different, and that’s okay! I’m also thrilled for everyone who announces a new pregnancy even though I’m struggling with infertility. Their ability to conceive has absolutely nothing to do with me, and I hope their child brings them all the joy that I expect mine will one day.

 

And you - I’m happy for you. I know that no matter the trials and tribulations you’re experiencing, you’ll make it through better and brighter and stronger than you were before. I’m happy that we’re connected and I’m excited to see where life takes you. I’m glad you’re pursuing a career in sports because it’s so much fun and I just know you’re going to do great things.

 

If you’re reading this, I’m happy for you.

 

Really.

 

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