A good friend recently shared a life philosophy statement someone else had just shared with her:
When you’re young, you walk into a room and think, ‘I wonder how many of these people are going to like me. When we’re older, we walk into a room and think, ‘I wonder how many people I’m going to like’.
Why is that? And can I skip the beginning and middle, and skip right to the latter way of thinking?
I make the mistake many, many women, especially Christian women, make – I take humility to an extreme and don’t think enough of myself to believe in myself. Why? One word (in my opinion): comparison. We spend oodles and oodles of mental and physical and emotional energy comparing ourselves to other women.
Do any of these sound familiar?
I’m not as good a ______ as she is. I might as well not even try.
Why can’t I dance like her?
She runs faster than me.
My abs don’t look nearly that good.
My hair is ratty; hers looks like she just stepped off a movie set.
I’m so stupid; I said the complete wrong thing.
They obviously don’t like me.
She’s way funnier than me.
How can I get my skin to look like hers?
How about this instead:
I’m not a Pulitzer Prize Winner but a real publisher published my book, so it can’t be that bad.
Because I wasn’t a cheerleader. She was.
…but at least I run.
…but my arms do.
…but I love my layers.
I just won’t word vomit next time. I’m sure she didn’t even notice.
Somebody had to tell the jokes and it sure wasn’t going to be me.
I am beautiful, too.
My novel Making Room was picked up by a publisher almost a year ago. The first readers read it 18 months before that. My first readers included two women who both generally steer clear of Christian fiction and are respectable writers in their fields/personal lives enjoyed the story and told me it was publishable. My aunt Bonnie was the first person to convince me to call it a novel, although Katlyn was the first person to actually use the word one year before. It took me that long to accept the notion that I had written a novel.
All that, and yet I just – for the very first time this past week – admitted Making Room is a good novel. Basically, I pursued publishing because it was a wish and a hope and a dream of mine that I honestly never believed I would see come to fruition. Then God got a hold of my heart, made me finish the book, and granted me favor and the publisher eyes to see a good story in the manuscript he received.
So why did I just now admit that Making Room is a well-written, realistic and timely story, worthy of its publication? Why did it take all preceding events to convince this heart that what she poured out into a novel is of good quality? Why am I my own worst marketer?
Because of the above: comparison. I’m not sure how I expected to write an award-winning novel right out the gate when I’ve never really worked on honing my craft before. I worked on Making Room for a long time, yes, but it’s still the first time I’ve ever written a story. People tell me I have a gift with words, but I haven’t practiced enough. I’ve written journals since I was 15 years old but that isn’t writing practice. That’s an outlet for my soul and is a completely different writing style than what is presented to the public.
Humility is a cornerstone of the Christian faith, but many women in the Christian faith get it wrong. We take “be humble” to mean “think less of yourself” instead of “think of yourself less.” Humility is an attitude, but I think of it as a frequency: Think of yourself less often so you have time to think of others. But I’ve mentioned before how girls need to have a positive tape playing in their minds because of how easy it is to fall into the negative thoughts trap. The Comparison Trap is one of the worst. But it can be easily counteracted:
1. Remember the truth: you were made the way you are for a reason. Check yourself, and if there’s something you legitimately don’t like, see if you can work to change it. But don’t work to change it because you think it will make you more loveable. Work to change it because you want to be more comfortable in your own skin.
2. Everyone has their own demons they are fighting, you just can’t see them all. Maybe she has perfect skin, but maybe she has MS. Maybe she can play soccer with the boys and you can’t, but maybe her parents died when she was 15. Maybe she’s funny, but maybe she’s crying on the inside. Everyone has their battles, most of which are being fought on the inside so as to make the rest of us think the other woman is stronger.
3. Comparison is like poison ivy: easily spread and yet tough to get rid of. Better to just stay away.
4. The Law of Averages (maybe, I don’t really know my physics laws. Is that a physics law?) says you must be good at something. Maybe it’s not soccer or writing or perfect skin, but maybe you make a difference in the life of a child every day. Maybe you’re uber patient – a virtue, in case you’ve forgotten.
Remember to give yourself some credit.
You’re your own worst critic.
You have people who love you because you’re the only you that exists in this world.
Let’s spend our energy on something else.