The trouble with “measuring up”

Image result for child in nature oil painting

A huge stumbling block in the path of people who wish to simplify and live a quiet, slow and purposeful life, is being part of a social circle who all have bigger houses, more possessions, fancier gadgets, who take trips abroad every year, etc, etc.

An important thing to remember when you say to yourself, “how come they are able to afford it?!” is that you don’t really know whether they can. You don’t really know what goes on behind the closed doors of people’s homes, or in their bank accounts. Perhaps these people are living way beyond their means. Perhaps they are in debt. Or perhaps they afford their super-fancy, extra-packed lifestyle by maintaining two careers which leave hardly any family time at all.

And if you are a mother who stays home with her children, some people might deliberately or accidentally make you feel inferior, or this feeling might come across on its own when you’re reading about someone who “successfully” combined a career and family. And again, the true price of what it all entailed is seldom brought up.

Or perhaps you just walk into someone’s house and lament how this lady has it all together while you don’t, and seemingly never will, and forget that no one has our unique set of strengths, weaknesses, experience and family situation. I’m not saying we shouldn’t learn from one another. But this learning should be a thing of strength and growth, not just useless comparison that leads us to feel debilitating inferiority.

Maybe, when you were growing up, there was a child of your parents’ friends, or perhaps a cousin who was so much more accomplished than you, who spoke German and French and played the violin, and could do all the things you could never even dream of doing. Perhaps your parents spent your entire childhood and adolescence unfavorably comparing you with that “role model”, until you felt about that unfortunate unsuspecting child the same way Emma Woodhouse felt about Jane Fairfax – an almost unconscious grudge that is as unjustified as it is difficult to overcome.

G-d made us unique. He wants and expects us to improve, but not by striving to become the image of somebody else. His boundaries are wide enough so that within them, we can freely be just what we are.

Image: lovely oil painting by Trent Gudmundsen 

6 thoughts on “The trouble with “measuring up”

  1. So true…one of the WORST things a parent can do is to constantly compare children to each other. My mother-in-law was a comparer…of all things, including humans. We all do some…she was pretty much only about comparisons. Unfortunately, it continued to the grandchildren…though we did all we could to combat it, still it had its effect…esp. on one child who has had a tough life (currently in process of 2nd divorce…unable to find good men to marry)…not the total blame there, but it was part of it. Looking back we perhaps should have basically had nothing to do with them…but honoring one’s parents was so ingrained in us…and what a horrid thing to do to your grown children…put them in such a place. Life can be oh so hard. Families CAN make a huge difference for good…but often seem incapable. I could write a book. But I feel books need good happy endings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes all we can do is pray. We live in a flawed world, and some things mess us up for good, I have had to come to terms with this too… but He can always make it better.

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  2. My mum was the sort who never paid compliments. My sister and I weren’t measured against other people, but we certainly didn’t come up to HER standards. Face up to the fact that you will never have your house, your children and your hair all looking the way you want them to.

    I discovered eventually that “having it all” meant it all had to be dusted. You want to come visit me? Come any time. If you want to see my house, you’ll have to make an appointment.

    Liked by 1 person

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