Saturday, 11 February 2017

Pajamas, Chips and Influence




Tonight I’ve had the pleasure of having a girls night in. I’m calling it this, but really it is just me sitting in my basement alone while my baby girl sleeps upstairs. The party was great until bedtime came around and then girls night became girl night. Just me.

Brandon is away tonight playing in a charity hockey game and then filling in on another team later tonight. Now, don’t start feeling bad for me. These games have been on the calendar for weeks and I easily could have asked a friend or two over to make it a true girls night. But for one reason or another, I find myself alone, scrolling through social media, after watching a chick flick and catching up on a show. 

If you are like me, you’ll know that this is a dangerous place to be in. With smudged make up, mismatched pajamas and a half eaten bag of chips lying around - it is practically a breeding ground for comparison to creep in. 

It’s a topic I’ve written about before, something that is almost turning into a catch phrase in our society. We all know the downside of comparison, the emptiness it leaves us with, the unrealistic expectations we begin to place on ourselves. 

But lately I have realized that comparison is not an end in and of itself. In my own life, comparison has begun to lead to intimidation. When I scroll through and see how incredible the life of another seems in comparison to my pajamas and chips, the more I become intimidated by this individual. 

I begin to question myself when I try to interact with her. I feel like I have nothing to offer, nothing to say to someone who has her whole life together. How could we relate when she has a waistline inches smaller, a bank account that seems to have a few more zeros on the end than mine, and an Instagram account that boasts of outings to places I’ve never even heard of? How can I relate when her relationship seems so exciting and she looks like she gets at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night? 

You see, the time consuming act of comparison, self-doubt and intimidation robs us of joy. It strips us bare of confidence. And worst of all? It distracts us from the influence we actually have. 

Too often we undermine the influence that we have on the people around us. When we compare ourselves to everyone else, we actually become increasingly inward focused. It creates a twisted form of narcissism, not one celebrating how great we think we are but rather how much less we are than others. We cannot see the truth of the people around us and the positive impact we could have simply because we are so focused on our lack. 

This focus on ourselves can manifest itself in different ways. Perhaps you become obsessed with taking the perfect photo, with living up to the unrealistic standard that will make you good enough in your own eyes. Maybe you quit, hiding away, avoiding any real, honest conversation for fear that someone might just see the real you. Or you might be the person who has a long list of reasons to disqualify herself before she even recognizes the good she could do. 

Trust me, you aren’t alone. 

There have been days where I avoid talking to certain people simply because I don’t feel like I’m good enough, talented enough or pretty enough to really have anything to say to them. And on those days? Those are the times where I am so focused on myself that I miss out on the chance to encourage, to smile at someone, to bring joy. 

Intimidation leads to fear and fear leads to immobility. Something we can’t afford in a society that so desperately needs hope, love and light. So what if she doesn’t like me? Or thinks down on me because I watch chick flicks alone in my basement sometimes? What’s the big deal if she doesn’t want to be my friend? 

Too bad for her! 

I don’t say this to be conceited. On the contrary, I say this because we miss out when we turn down relationship. When we back away from the chance to be honestly human with another person. 

And most of the time? That person that I’m so afraid is going to think less of me? Most often I find that there have been times where she has compared herself to me, or has been intimidated, or is afraid that when I see the real side of her I might not stick around. 

Because we are more alike and more tender than we can sometimes see scrolling through social media. 

So where do we go from here? We remember who we truly are, and we surround ourselves with people who can remind us when we can’t. And we take the risk of reaching out. Sure, sometimes it won’t be reciprocated. But there will be times when you will realize that the love you give to someone else or the leadership you show is more influential and impactful than you ever could have imagined. 

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