Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Measuring Up

**Let me start off by saying that I debated even sitting down to write this post, and then once it was written I debated making it public.  Obviously, I decided to make it public - I think mostly for the sake of full disclosure.

It all starts as a kid - we want to have the coolest toys, the trendy clothes, we want to be "cool."  As a child, I wasn't the coolest, I got made fun of, and not everyone liked me.  But, for the most part I was pretty self-assured.  I was confident in who I was, it was okay with me that I wasn't part of the cool crowd, I enjoyed focusing on school and my family.  Despite that confidence, there were traces of the feelings of isolation in middle school and high school.

Enjoying camp with a great friend!
Don't get me wrong - I was still pretty self-assured, I had good grades and was proud of it.  I was on the swim team, and while I wasn't the best it gave me a sense of belonging to a group.  Those early mornings in the weight room and afternoons at the pool were probably what got me through high school without too many issues with depression.  Between swimming, school, family, and work I didn't have time to sit around and "feel sorry" for myself.    There were moments when I would wonder "what if I was thinner?  what if I had more to offer?"  but overall I was happy with my core group of friends and they gave me far more than I deserved.  I don't have photos of all of them to share here, but I hope they know how much their friendship meant to me! 

Representative of my swimming connections, but some of my besties are "missing" from this picture.

College was more of the same, I came into college ready to focus on my studies and I did just that.  I worked through much of my college career and had several amazing opportunities to travel (a month in Ecuador and a semester in Philly). I was lucky to be assigned to a quad full of wonderful girls my freshman year and we became fast friends.  I stayed close with  most of them through college, and even roomed with my freshman roomie for most of my college career.  We did alot of social stuff together, but the biggest blessing was having a group of girls who I could just "exist" with and who loved me unconditionally.  We didn't have to be at a party to have a good time -  just being in each others' company was enough.  They were a constant for me, they were like my sisters and I miss them dearly.  

While my semester in Philadelphia was amazing and I would do it again in a heartbeat, when I came back I wasn't myself.  I had an amazing internship experience while in Philly - it gave me valuable experience in the work force.  I struggled to take the positive feedback though and focused on the few constructive criticisms I received from one of my supervisors. Not to mention, I faced my first ever true personal conflict with one of my housemates.  It shook me to the core, I came back to college and felt like after a semester away I no longer had a place at college.  Outside of my fiance (we got engaged early in college), I felt like no one cared that I was home.

My dear friends did the best they could to help transition me back into "the Alma bubble" but it wasn't easy for me.  Thankfully I made it through my last year of college, thanks mostly in part to this important group of people.  They reminded me that they did care about me and still valued me as a person.  They gave me the confidence to just relax and be myself when I was with them.  It was something I needed after spending nearly every minute at "home" in Philly on edge.  

What's the point of all this?  I am trying to determine when I started to have so much less faith in myself and who I am as a person.  When did the simple "comparing myself to others" become me feeling like I will NEVER measure up?  I believe the lack of confidence developed during my semester in Philadelphia and my confidence just continued to deteriorate from there.  I had a bad work experience after graduating college - I was laid off for unknown reasons (it still bothers me that he didn't have a good reason to let me go- the guy gave me a beaming letter of recommendation even).  I fought my way through a tailspin of depression and found a retail job to pass the time until I got married.  

Since then, my life has been a blur. Got married, moved to Indiana, bought a puppy, had a baby less than a year after we were married, bought a house, had a second baby, hubby changed jobs several times and I have worked a couple of part time type jobs just to do something to keep busy.

Somewhere among all this I found the time to lose 125 pounds and take up running.   I have tried to be the best mother I could be, the fastest runner I could be, the best everything.  Unfortunately, it always ends up with me feeling like I just can't measure up to the people I see around me.  

Someone will always be faster.  Someone will always be thinner.  Someone will always have a better body.  Someone will always be a better mother.  Someone will always have more dedication than me.  Someone will always hate/dislike me.  Someone will always have more friends than I do.

I can't be the only one who has done it - looked longingly at someone else and wondered "Why can't that be ME?"  I know that these are unreasonable thoughts, that I am an individual and I should be proud of where I am now but there is still a part of me that just can't "be happy."  

Anyone have any pointers on how to center your thoughts on what you have accomplished?  How do you stop comparing yourself to others?  


  1. Jenn, I stumbled across this blog post recently that I thought you might enjoy reading related to this topic: http://moneysavingmom.com/2012/01/comparison-is-the-thief-of-joy.html

  2. Jenn,

    There will ALWAYS be someone faster, younger, prettier, skinnier or whatever than you. That's just the facts of life. I was a stay at home mom for years and found that once I went back to work I gained my self-esteem back. I could be a great mom (great for me not comaparing myself to anyone else), a good wife, and a valuable employee. You have to love yourself FIRST before you can give love to those around you, including your children. Remember the way you act sets exapmles for your children, especially your daughter. You want to raise a confident young lady, then you have to show her that you are confident. If you don't she will lack the self-esteem that she will need to mature into a strong and confident young lady. She will look to you as her role model so be a strong one for her. Teach her it's OK to make mistakes and NOT be perfect. Look at things through your children's eyes. I guarantee you that they don't see the faults that you see in yourself. The past is the past, put it behind you. If you don't, your life will continue to be a blur. I feel sad that you think that your life has been a blur because your children need you. Enjoy life and enjoy your children because they grow up all too fast. I know.

  3. I don't want to be misunderstood, I don't think my life is a blur because of my children. Life has just been busy the last 5 years. My kids are my greatest joy in life, I wouldn't trade them for anything. I would also like to clarify, my self doubts are all personal and I for the most part keep them internalized other than on this blog. I know the ideal is to be happy and confident 100% of the time, its a struggle but obviously something I am working on.

  4. Jenn, obviously this is one of those things that's different for everyone so I can really only speak for myself here. When I'm tempted to say I wish I was more like someone else I remind myself that everyone has their own struggles and many of those aren't visible on the surface. Then I remind myself that being me, just me, is always enough.

  5. Jenn sadly this can be a part of life if we chose to focus on it. I'm sure if we are all honest about it we have done it at some time in our lives. I know I do more times than I want to admit. I tell myself that I have "friends" I can go to if I need them, you know the one that will do anything for ya but rarely ever calls to see how you are doing? and its true I do have plenty that I can call for a prayer, a ride to the store. But they rarely call on my for anything. I have trained them that I will be there no matter what, and I will, so it's easy to take me for granted.

    I am at a point in my life that I am feeling the empty nest. My son, still lives at home, is in college .. works ... has his friends ... and a girl friend that lives an hour away. My daughter is a Sr in HS, has a boyfriend, that I dearly love, that she spends most of her waking hours with, school an her friends. While I am happy for them I miss them at the same time. Oh did I mention I am a single mom that has been doing this ALL on my own without the father for over 10 yrs now? The past 20+ years my decisions have been made with them in mind. Now I don't have to do that and feeling a lil lost.

    Almost a year ago I lost my dear mom and struggled with this. Two months ago I lost my momma Pat, she was as dear to me as my own mom. Not to mention that mommma Pats daughter is my best friend who is bi-polar and is in one of her episodes that I had to back away from.

    So yeah we all have those times ... we all get lost in "me" if we let ourselves. I did it for about two weeks before I could shake it off. I felt ALL alone, even though I could talk with my daughters bf. I was finally about to talk with my daughter. My son, well he's RARELY here in my waking hours. But I say all this to get to this point. I woke up Saturday morning and told myself that I WAS going to have a good day no matter what. I found a way to focus on what I DID have an not what I didn't have. Was it easy? No completely but it's baby steps on anything you do that gets you thru it.

    Funny cause I just said this to someone else just last night but, no matter who you are, no matter what you do, no matter what you look like, no matter what say there will ALWAYS be someone that doesn't like something about you. There will always be someone that has something you don't. But... there will also be someone that has a set of problems that you don't. That's what makes us different. I don't say any of this to make anyone feel bad for me. I say it to encourage you an anyone else. We have two choices in life. We can focus on what we don't have an be down about it. Or we can focus on what God gives us, thank Him for it and do our best to be all He made us to be.

    Sounds pretty simple but so hard to do some days. So the next time you seem me post a neg thought you can remind me of this lol

    I hope that you find peace and see the beautiful person that you are.

  6. I just read your post, obviously. lol. When I get to feel like this I try to look at the glass half ful rather then empty. Gosh how can you think you are such a lesser person? That saddens me. You have always been such a terrific person. Btw thinner people are not always the prettiest :) Think of it as man there are some worse moms out there, bigger people etc. Think then at all the ccomplishments and just how terrific you are. While you are wishing to be that other person you are looking out, how ironic is it that people have looked at you and wished darn it I wish I could be her. WHen I look at you,when we were younger, I wished I had had your drive at school, your family, the love they feel for you, everything, I was so envious. Now I look at you and wish my kids had had such a terrific father, you have such a terrific supportive husband, the ethics you have , how hard you work at your goals, and how you always seem to make things around you flourish. DOn't sell yourself short kid. I am sure many others have been envious, and who would not admire you for all that you have done. You have a good heart and soul and you should never think of yourself less then anyone. I am struck at your dedication to raise money for St Jude, such a selfless act. You are crafty, athletic, great cook, creative, intelligent, and kind. I don't think you could possibley be any better then what you are already. Chin up, and I hope you can soon realise what real value you have to this world, not only your kids and husband. I hope you learn to love yourself Jen, because you have never been anything but a good person.