“Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy and scared. Everyone, even the people who seem to have it most together. They are much more like you than you would believe, so try not to compare your insides to other people’s outsides.” Anne Lamott
I love this advice from Anne Lamott. On my dark days, it seems like everyone else is enjoying life and is being productive, whereas I feel confused and worthless. I glance at Facebook, where people announce all of their joys and adventures, and I wonder if I am growing at all. I look at my current life — doing my routines of work, chores, exercise, errands, and so on – and I wonder, “What am I accomplishing? Am I helping other people enough?” Often, I am burdened by my doubts. I feel inferior to the adults around me.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I know, I know. The conflict is in my mind. It comes from comparing my messy insides to other people’s well-groomed, photogenic outsides. I am better off when I don’t compare.
In fairness, on brighter days, I am content. The routine and all that is ordinary simply comprise the stuff of life. I realize that I am not changing the world, but that I do help people in my community in my small but persistent ways. Hopefully, on the outside, I look put together too. Certainly, that is the side of myself that I choose to share with others.
“…Try not to compare your insides to other people’s outsides.” I believe that all of us are muddling through life doing the best that we can. Sometimes we are inspired and we share love. Other times, we are dispirited and are misguided in our actions. Always, there is hope that by caring about others and by accepting their love, we’ll be OK…and even thrive at times. Try not to compare. Find the good in others and in ourselves and nurture that quality so that it can grow. As a teacher and as an individual, that is my goal.
4 thoughts on “My Messy Inner Life”
Even when we know all the ways that social comparison can get in the way of the joy of being who we are, it is remarkably difficult to resist the impulse. You capture that so well here – the struggle to accept the beauty and warmth of what is without needing it to be extraordinary in order to appreciate it. “Find the good in others and in ourselves and nurture that quality so that it can grow.” You articulate the essence clearly and I am grateful.
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You’re not at all alone in this! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com
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I appreciate your post so much! Thanks for grounding it with the sage words of Eleanor Roosevelt and Anne Lammott. Their advice is right… we just have to keep reminding ourselves of it.
My daughter was having a really tough time the other day since she felt like we really “don’t do anything” when she knows some of her classmates are going on vacations, eating indoors, and even going to indoor water parks. We’ve actually spent more time outdoors, as a family, this year. It’s been wonderful. I encouraged her to reframe her perspective and think about how much closer to nature she’s getting and how she’s having the opportunity to observe and participate fully in the beauty of the world. I doubt that I convinced her with one conversation, but I think that just as we (adults) have to stop looking at others and comparing what they’re doing, we have to remind kids to do the same thing, whenever possible.
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Lamott’s quote is quite true, as is Roosevelt’s, which you acknowledged – the thing I try to keep in perspective is that all that glitters on FB is not gold, or sometimes even real; pain and emptiness are easy to disguise, there. I know some folks feed off of social media. I can’t. Never have been a big fan of FB, preferring Twitter, but have scrolled back my use for my own sanity. I barely do IG at all – it gets to be too much. I have challenge enough actually living my daily life without also trying to live it virtually! But that is just me. This line, “I believe that all of us are muddling through life doing the best that we can” – is so true. We do have to honor that others, like ourselves, are most often just doing the best they can; that word “nurture” here in your conclusion is so vital. You’ve imparted brave honesty and such needed encouragement here today – the world needs more of it!