#Ideas: Three Ideas to Beat The Awful Feeling from Comparisons

Don’t compare yourself with your friends, isn’t that a utopian statement?’ a friend remarked. I agreed, but added that it was necessary to be content with oneself, and immediately I thought, ‘Look who’s speaking!

Was I content? I couldn’t tell. I can’t. Some days I am, some other days my mind is a mess driving through the exam sheets from grade 2. (I probably don’t even remember it, it must be a constructed memory.)

There’s something more alluring than that packet of chips or plate of pizza. It’s comparisons. I don’t quite remember where was it exactly that I came across the term Obsessive Comparative Disorder on the ocean of the internet. I might have landed on an island whose route I have now forgotten. But the island was an exotic one, and perhaps continues to be more exotic as we deal with comparisons every moment of our lives. Thank you social media. (Well, you might have landed here through a social media link, and I have no words to say about this situation. Thank you for clicking and reading.)

But we can all agree that social media has fueled comparative lifestyle, disorders for some extreme cases. The stories our screen tell are, we know, different from what it seems. We all do. We know it. But just can’t deny, it seems.

Even without social media, the comparative nature doesn’t really go away. We’re bred in such a fashion. Remember report cards from school? Who scored 98%? Who stood first in elocution contest? Competition isn’t all bad, but somehow comparison ruins it all. It’s not I scored 90, see thats how much I knew about and how much I didn’t. But rather, she he they scored 94, 89, 70. It began a long time ago, before the advent of socials, and the unlearning is perhaps going to take an even longer time. Time might not be something we can afford to have, given it’s already about who has a better job, went to a better university, has smarter kids, more caring spouse. It doesn’t stop. It looks like an inevitable part of growing up.

It makes us bitter. The things I failed at make me morose – the ones everyone thought I would excel at. It’s not about giving up, but everyone needs a mental mettle and peace to deal with the little yet pinching things. They say it’s about the pauses in between that makes music sound the way it sounds. Pauses.

I pause and then begin to search for ideas. Here are three ideas I like to go through when I come across the punctured mark sheet of my life. However little or big they may be, they hurt. Ouch!

 

Everyone is equally difficult and awkward to be with. – Alain de Botton 

This line often reminds me that it’s okay, everyone feels such emotions and they too fail. We’re all lacking and wanting. Everyone has holes in them.

Here’s a video by Alain de Botton, telling why we should not go to school reunion!

 

We need to know our strengths in order to know where we belong. – Peter F. Drucker

A planner may find that his beautiful plans fail because he does not follow through on them. Like so many brilliant people, he believes that ideas move mountains. But bulldozers move mountains; ideas show where the bulldozers should go to work. 
– Peter F. Drucker, Managing Yourself 

These are words from the master of management, Drucker himself taken from the article Managing Yourself complied in HBR’s On Managing Yourself. We all have strengths, it helps to learn them. For some it’s in money management, for some in Kindergarten, for others in decorated palette of food.

I am driven to find my strengths ever time I read these words. I am encouraged to try, to take up activities, and to forgive myself for the earlier mishaps.

 

It is what it is, it ain’t what it ain’t. – Anita Fain Taylor

This is one of my favorite videos from the World Championship of Public Speaking by Toastmasters International. Failure is a reality, but it doesn’t tell the full story. It is what it is, it ain’t what it ain’t.

There’s something more alluring than that packet of chips or plate of pizza. It’s comparisons. But we can beat them, both.

Growing Up #11: A Prose on Shopping

I could walk the entire day, stop for a few minutes in between, munch some food, and still be upright – ready to dash the next store. By the looks of it I really enjoyed shopping. From cat print shirts to neatly pressed coats, the energy slowly dwindled away. I don’t dash into store after store anymore. It’s not that shopping isn’t fun, but perhaps I’ve become more efficient, and my energy – divided.

There were days when I could buy oversized clothes – hey I was still growing! These days I walk out empty handed if they don’t fit me.

Do you kind of feel a little awkward when the beautiful piece of cloth fits so well on the mannequin but looks awful on you? Deception! Do you feel a small part of you get angry when the salesperson gives you a size hoping it’d fit you (they’re 100% sure), because by the looks of it – it should, but doesn’t? Do you begin to wonder if its just you, or perhaps it’s everyone else too? What kinds of clothes are they making?

And then sometimes you find one that fits just well, after having a heap of discarded ones on the floor. Does it then feel like an achievement?

I almost never find my shoe size. It’s almost always sold out. They say there’s just one pair for one size in one style. Why don’t they make more of it? Or it is just the thing they say to make up for the lack of it? Can’t say.

Do you sometimes worry about having to bargain? After a full day’s work, at the edge of Decision Fatigue, does it seem like a huge task? And so do you head into the fixed price store instead? Ah! at least everyone who buys there pays the same price.

A prose on shopping. So many things inside the mind of a supposed adult out on shopping. Anyways, I still manage to get some cat print items.


Week 11 of Growing Up – a series about growing up, every Saturday. How’s the digital drawing I tried? Did you shop this week? Let me know in the comments.

Curved, Convoluted, Confused

It’s okay to be curved, convoluted, and confused,
to have the wires of your life
twisted and turned
as if ready to dance upon each other.

Because look at the vessels
the body encloses,
look at them and you shall see
how they twist and turn.

Laid straight they could
travel twice around the globe,
but would they house a life?
it cannot be told,
but probably not.

Look how curved, convoluted
and confusing they look,
perhaps because of which
they make life possible,
pumping blood all over.

When the roads do not
go as straight as we would like them to
confounding our state of being,
they could too carry life within them.

So it’s okay to tilt a bit
for otherwise the world wouldn’t fit,
inside of you.

Growing Up #10: What Have We Done to Our Homes?

I’ve always been a fan of retreats, but then it struck me this time. What have we done to our homes that we must go far far away from it to find our peace back? Isn’t home supposed to be the inviolable place we rested our minds, the impermeable barrier that kept us safe, the impervious door no evil could pass?

This is of course not to say travel and retreats are a waste. It’s just very ironic that our schedules have made us their slaves. We’re always connected, and a few minutes of disconnection can feel like a year of missing out.

I’ve been reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, and a line from the book about the domestication of wheat strikes so familiar to what technology has done to us:

We did not domesticate wheat. It domesticated us. 

Perhaps technology has domesticated us. Harari calls us a hackable creature, thanks to technology again. Read about it here.

I’ve known myself as someone who has always loved being home. I might be the classic introvert that personality quizzes describe. I love being at home – wiping dust off the book shelf, arranging and rearranging toiletries on the rack, or just playing the keyboard.

These days though I find stress creeping into the walls of my room, insecurity emerging out of social media taking over my dusty study desk, unnecessary emails gnawing up my creating time.

And I ask myself, what have I done to my home?

I must change it. It must be changed. Drawing lines – it might just be as simple, undecorated and acetic as that. Just as hard.


Growing Up is a weekly series on well, growing up, published every Saturday (Cheat week this Week as I wrote this on a Tuesday). It’s been 10 consecutive weeks I’ve been writing this specific column in my blog here. Can’t believe it’s 10 weeks already. They were right: time passes any way.