Comparison + Celebrating Others
We live in an ironic time and place where a person could be involved in multiple conversations at once, in a coffee shop surrounded by dozens of people, and still feel the sting of isolation. I cannot speak for the men, but as a woman who longs for community as much as I do, I deal with an awful lot of loneliness. It’s easy to pinpoint social media as the culprit because we have replaced looking another in the eyes with hundreds of digital connections. We’ve traded a few solid, do-life-together friends for hundreds of followers, and we wonder why our lives aren’t satisfying us the way we’d hoped.
It’s easy to blame the physical disconnect that comes with being plugged in all the time for our low self-esteem and poor social skills. But if you ask me, the root of isolation is not a platform, but a belief. And that belief is that I see hundreds of people around me, and I somehow do not add up. It doesn’t take an Instagram account to make me feel this way, either. We have all heard the saying that social media is another person’s highlight reel. But do we really know what is truly at stake when we buy into the lies?
There is an unnerving and untamable force that exists when women are united.
One of my good friends (and honestly, one of my favorite people to be around) would still be a stranger if I had let my own insecurities get the best of me. Matt had coordinated a dinner with this woman and her husband after recently joining the staff at a church we were very new to. I had never met her, so I decided to look her up on Facebook the night before they had us over. When I came across her profile, my heart sank. She was gorgeous. Immediately, feelings of jealousy washed over me, but I had to find a way to play it off. I *jokingly* (but not so much) commented to my husband, “Matt, you’re not allowed to have friends that pretty. We may have to cancel this dinner.” I laughed, but inside, insecurity was pulling at me from every direction. My initial fear was that we would not click with these people and dinner would be awkward. My fear quickly flip-flopped to, oh Lord, what if she has a good personality, too? Or worse, what if I like her?
Matt assured me I was insane, and we had the dinner. And to my dismay, I liked her... A LOT. She was funny, welcoming, and real. But I had to set aside my own insecurities long enough to celebrate the fact that I met this woman who I really admired. And the more we’ve gotten to know each other, the more I realize how much we have in common. I recently found out that she told her husband she wasn’t sure about me the first time we met. She, too, was intimidated by the same things I saw in her (which I find hilarious now).
I think if satan could have his perfect world, he would keep all these amazing women isolated, feeling like they were in competition with one another, because there is an unnerving and untamable force that exists when women are united. The same is just as true for men, but unfortunately women seem to experience the greatest attack in this area.
I am a huge advocate for women empowerment, but if I am being completely honest, I have been pretty turned off by the feminist movement lately. I see it slowly getting better, but for the longest time, it felt like an attack on humanity. Women fighting against men, against other belief systems, and most ironically, against other women. I have sensed a fight ignited by jealousy and resentment, when the only true remedy is unconditional love and acceptance. We all long to belong. We all are waiting for someone to tell us that we are seen and there’s a place for us in all our imperfect glory and weirdness. But somewhere down the line we began believing the lie that there isn’t enough room for her beauty and mine, her gifts and mine.
I know it’s true because I fight this feeling on the daily. Despite the fact that one of my greatest desires in life is to see unity among women, I still struggle to believe that I am included in that equation. They are equal, and so am I. They are beautiful…and so am I. They are talented, strong, admirable, inspiring...and so am I.
What will it take for us to stop comparing ourselves to the people around us? It starts with an inherent understanding of our own self-worth. I am loved by a perfect God, so it would be wildly presumptuous of me to not love myself. But it also takes the ability to celebrate the men and women around us. If we can do those two things, I dare suggest that we will be an unshakable force for positive change in this world. And at the very least, we will gain a friend and an ally who would otherwise still be a stranger.