Karla - Comparison is the Thief of Joy
When I was very young I had a strange experience that I suppose branded me for life. I was always an “outside the box” thinker and when we were given an assignment I put my whole heart and soul into it, with the understanding that it could be created any way we thought possible. Upon delivery, to my surprise, my project was deemed unacceptable and was promptly told I would miss recess for getting it wrong.
After this, it became difficult for me to expose an idea or continue something because down the line it would ‘morph ́ into something ugly or just not what others were doing. I spent the majority of my life looking over at others, just to make sure I did things like they did.
This carried on well after I became a mother. I would look to see what other moms were doing, my own ideas and thoughts seemed unworthy, dumb—naive even.
I spent many a day comparing myself to other women, seeing in them things that I lacked and wondering how I could be just like them, imagining their perfect lives, thinking that they probably didn’t have any of the challenges I did, or if they did then waltz out of there gracefully. I would sometimes lock myself in my tiny bathroom and cry over my inadequacy, my lack of motivation sometimes to keep going.
Advice always came pouring in about what I should to, what I should not do, what to teach my children, when it was or was not appropriate for them to go to school, and how I should not ever let them be like “such and such’s” children, how I should act as a wife and detailed explanations of how I was failing at keeping it all together. All of that was overwhelming and found that I could no longer do something without calling my mother, my sister-in-law and mother-in-law.
It did not dawn on me that what I was doing was not healthy for me or the relationships around me –especially those of my husband and children, until I heard a talk describing someone feeling down because of the actions around him, so –concerned, told his father about it, to which he replied “Look up...” In that specific second, it hit me. Instead of focusing on myself I focused on what others around me did and I was unhappy, making my children unhappy and worrying my sweet, patient husband as well.
Not long after that I decided to shut everything out. A promise had been made to me that I would know how to guide and lead my children. Holding on to that, I slowly began to do what I believed to be best. Sometimes I didn’t do the dishes and went out with my children instead.
I understand that it is I who needs to choose how to raise my family and while there are opinions aplenty (as well as some criticism) the only ones who matter are mine and my husband’s. It is always a work in progress, there are some not so great days but mostly, I have learned how to be happy and confident in each thing I do.
Story by Karla Gandara Picture provided by Karla Gandara