Your Success Doesn't Equal My Failure (Even Though It Sometimes Feels That Way)
Start comparing yourself to other people, and life starts getting stupid.
That friend who just got a book deal? Hooray for her! And also crap. That brother who just got a raise and a promotion while you wear the same yoga pants three days in a row? Hooray for him! And also crap. That co-worker who's been paying her dues for years and finally got chosen to go to the big conference in San Francisco with a glorious per diem while you drink cold breakroom coffee. Hooray for her! And also crap.
The also crap is what makes us wonky on a regular Monday and never want to talk to another human again.
My most recent also crap moment came last night when I saw a photo on Instagram from a woman I really admire. The way she lives and raises her family and shares the hard stuff... I've always loved her feed. But last night she posted a photo of her family eating a beautifully whole roasted fish instead of hotdogs, and I saw red. No hooray; all crap.
"The nerve of her! Why does she have to rub it in that her kids eat fish? And not even in stick form?! Ugh, she's the worst." I was pissed at a stranger for eating fish.
You guys. I'm a lunatic.
Let's say you've had babies and look awesome in a bikini or you're on vacation in a place I've only dreamed of or you feed your family a fish like some kind of animal... rather than saying any variation of "hooray!" or "yay, friend!" I turn into a brat and kind of hate you.
But really it's me hating myself. Your success equals my failure (no, it really doesn't), and I take it out on you. No worries, by the way; I'm totally in therapy. (Hi, Fred!)
Then the other day during Olympic coverage, US soccer star Megan Rapinoe helped me skip the therapy and gave me a smack. After the US women's team lost to Sweden in an early round heartbreaker (I might have cried), she stayed in Rio and went to see Sweden and Brazil play in the game she should've been playing in. As a fan. She tied a Brazilian flag around her head and cheered with the locals.
"I'm a fan of football, and this is a huge deal for Brazil. I want to be here and celebrate something special."
She just lost! On penalty kicks! It was devastating, but she didn't let her own situation change how she celebrated someone else's.
I realize that in sharing this with you, I'm showing my ugly underbelly. I'm a messy person with gross defaults. And I don't like it. But what I do like is knowing that being vulnerable is always better than not.
We can celebrate someone else's success without questioning our own. We can see that perfect Instagram photo without throwing shade. We can hooray a friend's circumstances without also crap-ing our own.
Eating hot dogs for dinner isn't losing, but on the days it feels that way, we do the genius thing and remember the truth. We're fine. You're fine, I'm fine, that Instamama with her fish is fine. I don't like her more because she does it, so I shouldn't dismiss myself when I don't.