I remember many moons ago, long before Brad had cheated on Jen, I said to my mother, “I wish I could be more like Jennifer Aniston, she is so beautiful, fit, and happy.” What my mother said to me is the same thing she said to me when after college I lamented about how successful many of my former classmates were. It is the same thing she said to me when in high school I was jealous of my friend who was so much richer than me. It is the same thing she always says to me whenever I compare myself to someone else.
“Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.”
What that means is that I have no idea what someone else is going through. I have no idea how they feel inside their body, what their dreams are, what they want to be, what they think about and who they are inside. I can only see what they present to the world. I can see what they wear, what they do for a living, and what they let me see. It is so easy to pretend like we know more about a person than we do. I am not saying that everyone who seems happy and in love is really miserable and having an affair. I mean that we see what we want to see. We see what we want to compare to.
Let me give y’all an example.
I know this woman who has this amazing job. She makes tons of money, loves what she does, and gets amazing health care. I’m jealous. I love what I do, but I do not make tons of money and I do not get health care, shoddy or no. She is always dressed to the nines, she has all these gorgeous handbags, her apartment was decorated professionally, and she recently received a Tiffany diamond from the man she loves. Okay, what the hell?! I haven’t purchased anything from a store other than Crossroads in three years. The BF and I have so much stuff cramped into our tiny living space that I am tripping over surfboards on a regular basis, I am not engaged, and it seems like forever before I will be able to own anything other than an iPod. Looks like I am a little jealous, right? Wrong. It is just the way I am looking at it because of the things I am focusing on.
This same woman has no time for herself because she is either with her fiancé or at work. She hasn’t had a moment to work out in years, she is too tired to cook in the evenings so they always order pizza or eat lean cuisines, and she is afraid if she quits smoking she will gain weight since she doesn’t work out. She is thirty-eight and not sure if she can still have a baby because she isn’t very fertile plus she is scared that because she is so unhealthy she will just get worse after the birth of a baby.
Okay, I am making this woman up but you must get the idea. I was judging this woman and comparing myself to her outsides: that which I can see with the part of me that no one can see.
It’s like when I compare myself to Jennifer Anniston because I think she has these amazing arms that I think are better than mine. Read: her outsides (arms), my insides (insecurity about my own arms).
It happens all the time, people notice something about someone else and they compare themselves to the thing they notice. It might be their career, style, home, luck, family, or significant other. It’s terrible and I do it all the time, hence the reason my mother keeps giving me the same advice. We have no idea what other people’s lives are like so we should stick to just focusing on the person we know best, ourselves.
This week I urge everyone to take a step back from his or her ideas about the lives of everyone else. I want everyone to start focusing on what you have going for you, rather than what they have going for them.
Like mama says, “Even Halle Berry has been dumped.”
Be good to your body, it’s where you live.