Do You Compare Yourself?
One of my biggest weaknesses is that I have a terrible habit of comparing myself to others. Consequently I have always struggled with low self-confidence because I often feel that I can’t quite measure up. So who am I trying to measure up to? And why? Why do I care? I’m not really sure why. And while I haven’t quite figured out that part of the equation, I have been able to determine the three things that make me the most self-conscious.
1. My height – at 5’8″ I am really not that tall, but put me in a room with my father’s Indian family and I feel like Big Bird. Since my parents and sister are not super tall, my brother and I can likely blame our height on the hormone-laden milk we used to drink by the gallons. There was no such thing as organic milk back then but you better believe organic milk is all I will let Maya drink. (Poor kid has my wild hair so if I can spare her from being taller than me, well, it’s the least I can do).
2. My weight – until I had Maya I actually struggled with being too skinny. I never really had a problem with being so thin but people would not-so-subtly comment that I must be anorexic. Very annoying. After Maya was born and I turned 30 the opposite happened and the scale started shifting upwards, ever so slightly. That was when I had to learn how to eat properly so that I could maintain my size (hence how I found out that blogs existed). Recently I’ve had to face the facts that even though the number on the scale is now the same as it used to be, I will never actually look the same as I used to. I will never have Victoria Beckham’s abs! I need to make peace with this and move on!
3. My skin – I think my father could feed a small country for the amount of money he paid to my dermatologist. My skin was never really terrible, thank God, but it was bad enough where people would ask me what was wrong with my face. (While my father’s family are a bunch of very smart people they apparently didn’t do as well in Tact 101). In my teens and twenties I tried every topical and ingestible medicine out there to no avail. It was only when I cut out sugar a couple of years ago that my skin improved dramatically. How frustrating that the dermatologist simply didn’t suggest that I do that in the first place? As a matter of fact he never once asked about my eating habits. And I guess it makes sense because then my father wouldn’t have spent a decade writing checks to him! So while things are much better, I would still love to have flawless, perfect skin.
While all of the aforementioned things have affected my self-confidence, my main flaw remains that I routinely compare myself to others.
First it was to my older sister. Who doesn’t look up to their older sister? And because I did look to her for guidance and reassurance when we were growing up, I realize now how much her so-called teasing really affected me. Her references to me looking like “Conan the Barbarian” on a particularly frizzy hair day really stuck with me and certainly didn’t make me feel better about myself. Nor did my uncle’s suggestion that I should be pleased I at least got the brains because my sister got all the looks. (My father’s family is really quite insane come to think of it).
I also compare myself to my friends. For example, a few weeks ago we went to a friend’s house and I actually made an effort to look decent. I put on nice clothes, I put on makeup (this happens once in a millenium), and I broke out the flatiron to tame my hair into submission. I thought I looked good and I felt good too. And then I ran into a friend who always looks impeccable, from top to bottom, and I felt like a giant mess – too tall, hair a mess, not dressed properly, etc.
Have you ever read Shopaholic Takes Manhattan? If not you should definitely check out the entire series starting with Confessions of a Shopaholic which is far superior to the movie by the way. (Actually I have read and loved (almost) every one of Sophie Kinsella’s books but that’s a whole other post!) Anyway in Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, Becky, the main character is meeting her boyfriend’s mother for the first time and she gets all dressed up and thinks she looks “really sharp.” But then next to her boyfriend’s mother she suddenly becomes self-conscious and notices that her shoe has a tiny smear on the side, one of her nails has a slight chip, and a thread is hanging down from her skirt. Honestly, this is the story of my life!
I often compare myself to random people too. When I worked at CBS my office was located between production offices for The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful. Comparing myself to gorgeous, skinny stars all day long was rough. I mean these girls literally never had a hair out of place and their clothes were out of this world. Obviously I left this job for reasons other than saving my fragile ego but let me tell you, I feel 100 times better now that I don’t have to see those perfect girls every day!
Looking back at what I just wrote I know that I haven’t struggled with anything most than most other girls have struggled with. Is it worse because I live in Los Angeles? Is it harder for me because I have that type “A” personality and can’t stand that some things are out of my control? I’m not sure. But as I get older I realize more and more that most people are probably being too critical of themselves to notice what I consider a huge flaw in myself. That doesn’t mean that I still don’t feel like my clothes are wrinkly and my sweater has a pull in it, but I am trying to accept things for what they are so I don’t dwell on stuff that is so obviously unimportant.
Does anyone else compare themselves to their friends, family or even strangers? Has anyone overcome this? Any suggestions for me?