Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Theodore Roosevelt supposedly said "Comparison is the thief of joy." I bought a lovely print of this quote from etsy when my girls started what has become a long running theme in our house that I subtly call "SHE GOT MORE THAN ME."

"She got 5 crackers and I only got 4!"
"It's not fair! She got ice cream at her party and I didn't get any!"
"You gave her more Cheerios! Why would you do that?!"

I am constantly saying "Keep your eyes on your own plate." and "Focus on what YOU have, what YOU want, not what anyone else has."

It has yet to sink in.

In this house of plenty, where my girls are safe and warm and have all their needs met, there apparently is a constant battle to feel like they have enough. I realize that this obsession with fairness is probably a normal part of their development (PLEASE TELL ME IT IS) but BOY HOWDY does it get old.

I bought the print for them. I wanted to post it somewhere obvious, somewhere they would have to look several times a day so it would eventually seep into their fairness-obsessed brains.

It now resides on my desk. Not because I couldn't find a place to hang it close to the girls but because I apparently need it.

Are you comparing the state of my desk to the state of yours? (I'm sure yours is neater.)

You see, I'd like to say I don't understand this compulsion to compare, but I do.

I am not obsessed with fairness the way my girls are. I don't think I deserve something just because someone else got it. But I do compare myself with others. Endlessly, it seems. As is becoming increasingly obvious to everyone, social media is unhelpful in this regard. We all get to pick and chose exactly what we aspects of our lives we expose online, creating a digital persona that bears only passing resemblance to our messy flesh and blood selves.

I am just as guilty of this, I suppose. On rough days, I tend to shut down online. I don't air our dirty laundry on Facebook, ranting and raving about my kids' poor behavior, and I prefer to post happy pictures where everyone is smiling. I don't take depressing photos and post them on Instagram. (Oh wait. Maybe I do.)

I love the connection that social media brings: your Instagram feeds, your Facebook updates, your witty tweets, they all help me feel less alone and more connected. That's why I started this blog years ago.

But sometimes the glorious photos, the funny little stories, the proud kid moments shared by others feed into the already constant thrum in my head of YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH.

Is it possible to look at the perfectly polished windows into the lives of others, their social media selves, and not compare or feel less than?

Or the equally soul-sucking tendency to read the misspelled rants of a chronic oversharer and not feel just a little bit superior?

I'm not suggesting that we cease sharing the magical moments of our day. Or capturing with our iPhones the cutest scene from our otherwise unphotogenic day. But as a consumer of these things, how can we recieve them in a way that is inspiring instead of depleting? How can we keep the connection but lose the comparison?

I don't know the answer to these questions, obviously.

For now, I'll just sit a little closer to this print and hope it eventually sinks in, to ME.

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