I feel like I've said this before for a completely unrelated topic, but I will repeat myself because that is what I do best. A lot of the time, a certain cliched phrase or overused advice doesn't hit home until later in life. You spend half your existence nodding along to a sentence you've heard a hundred times before and then one day, while you are minding your own business, you suddenly get it. You fully understand. You finally relate. Well, as you've probably guessed, I had a moment like this the other day.
Comparison isn't a new struggle for me. I don't think it is for many people. Unfortunately however, it is common. Especially in college, especially for me. It's hard not to compare when everyone around you is gorgeous and successful and getting more stuff done than you. It's that "than me" mentality. I can't seem to get away from it. I have this crazy, horrible habit that I can find literally anyone passing me on the sidewalk and see a beautiful trait in them and compare it to a not so beautiful trait in me. I compare apples to oranges all day long. I know this isn't logical or helpful, but my mind immediately goes there. It's like a default setting.
The realization I had, or rather, the final oh that's what they mean by that moment was this: you have to accept and cherish the undesirable things about yourself because they're what make you you. Before you can walk in confidence, you have to actually love yourself, and that includes loving the traits you'd trade in a day. Now, don't get me wrong here. I am not advising for you to confront the ugly parts of your heart, say it's okay and move on. I am not saying don't actively learn and reach to improve yourself. That's not it. I am saying that in order to love yourself enough to even want to improve yourself, you have to see the weird, random traits you know you can't stand and accept them.
So I will take you through my thought process because that's the only way I can think to provide an example.
I often see tall girls with perfect abs or beautiful legs or narrower waists or what have you and get irritated that I am the opposite. I am short, my thighs definitely touch, I hunch over when I sit literally anywhere. Now, while being able to see more than people's backs in a crowd or fitting better in my jeans would originally be something I'd be quick to wish for, I have to remember the reality. If I had it my way, if I had what I envy of others, I would not be able to swing my legs from practically any seat, I would not be able to scurry through and away from a crowd, and I would not be able to wedge my phone between my thighs without it falling into the seat. These abilities are so natural for me. They are random abilities I am thankful for. If I really was tall and if I really did have super thin legs, I would miss what I had before.
The same goes for my eyes. I love brown eyes. I always have. I love them on other people and I've wished to have them myself. I would look more like my mom if I had her brown eyes. But if I traded my blueish green for brown, I wouldn't match my dad or my brothers. And then my eyes wouldn't look so funky and cool during a sunny day at the beach.
I have flat feet. And I hate that I can't wear cute flats like Audrey Hepburn, that I walk funny, that my knees will be weak when I'm older, but I love how I can feel more of the ground beneath me when I stand. I feel the grass in my backyard from the tips of my toes all the way to the backs of my ankles. In a strange way, it makes me feel more connected to the Earth (I know it's weird, leave me be). I'd miss that feeling so much if my feet were any different.
Now, moving past physical traits, I have this habit of being fearful about the silliest and tiniest of things. It can be hindering and a nuisance and overall, incredibly annoying for me and other people. I know this. However, if I didn't get overwhelmed over a new place to drive or a new food order to ask or a sudden change in plans, who would I be, honestly? It's a huge part of who I am. I am a planner and detail oriented and focused. It can be good or it can be bad, but either way, it's a quality about myself I know dang well.
I suck at dancing in public. My whole body shuts down and I literally can't move. It may be a phobia. I'm not even joking (wish I was). I can't stand that this happens to me. It is hard to enjoy normal celebrations when everyone is wondering why you are such a stick in the mud, or rather, a stick in the dance floor (hah). It is horrible, but in a weird way, it helps me cherish those 2 a.m dance parties alone in my bedroom, when no one is watching and no one cares.
I have immediate reservation and caution toward new people. I don't like this about myself. I am a very strong introvert and I don't trust others easily at all. While I wish I could be the life of the party, I'm not and probably never will be. It is not my nature. I am a private person (I say as I post my inner most thoughts on the internet), but it is this trait that grants me the amazing, trustworthy, loyal, and dedicated friends in my life today. And believe me, I wouldn't trade them for the world.
I am horrible at math. I don't have the brain for it at all, but if I did, I might not have my passion for words. If I understood numbers super well, I might have never leaned into literature and found my home there among the papers and stories.
The point of this long (probably annoying) list of traits and how I simultaneously dislike and like them is to, as I promised, show my thought process among this realization. There is importance in being who you are and who you were created to be. I obviously have some growth I need to go through, changes I could work on, but it is a bit of an insult to look at all the simple seemingly unimportant qualities that shape who you really are and say eh I could do without this and that or this and that.
The thing is, we can't pick and choose the tiny things, the subtle habits, the authentic traits we carry and present to the world. It is our soul. That ugly laugh when something is hilarious, the biting your lip when focusing, that silly dance when you put on the perfect outfit. This is who we are. This is how God created us. How He shaped us. How He loves us.
Maybe for once, the movies are right. Maybe if we became exactly what we've always wanted and if every I wish we ever thought became a reality, we wouldn't like it. It would change everything. Our bodies would feel weird and not our own, our friends would be different, our futures tampered with. It wouldn't be ideal. It wouldn't be anything compared to what we have now, even if our circumstances are sucky. No matter what you think when you look in the mirror or reflect on in your life, if it were any different, you'd be clueless and lost, even more than you are now. I'm going to say something crazy, stick with me. Maybe our right now is ideal, flaws and all. Comparison? She knows nothing.
If I changed the smallest things about myself that tend to be annoying, everything else would change too. Be careful what you wish for. If I got what I thought I wanted, I wouldn't be where I am today. And though I complain (too much I'm sure), I am incredibly, crazy, overwhelmingly blessed. I may be short and have flat feet, I may have social anxiety, I may think far too hard about the easiest and simplest of things, but it would be catastrophic in my life if I were any different.
I'm so glad I didn't get what I wanted. Honestly, what do I know? Practically nothing. I am a flawed human being. If things had gone my way, if I had gotten what I wished I had, maybe I would not be at University studying English, maybe I wouldn't know most words from Pride and Prejudice, maybe I wouldn't be rooming with my best friend, maybe I wouldn't be walking to class in the early morning, smiling because the breeze feels like fall.
If you traded the things you dislike about yourself or your life, you'd also be trading the amazing things, the best parts. The good and the bad are intertwined. They are one. They are you. And there is no trade worthy or equal to who you really are. There is no comparison.
I too often forget this. Maybe you do too. Perhaps we should remember it.