I had an epiphany this morning on the way to work. It was possibly brought on by an exhaustion fuelled delirium (thank you M) which I suspect may lead to some serious rambling during this post, but I’ll do my best to stay focused.
I read a post last night over on ‘At the Clothesline’. She talks about the difficulties so common to many of us at the moment – that of making ends meet, getting through the month without running out of money, feeling hard done by for not being able to do the little things we all love, then feeling guilty for complaining when there are others so much worse off than us. But here’s the thing – we’re always told not to compare ourselves to those who we perceive to be better than us – be it better off financially, in work, or that we somehow see them as a better person than us (one I’m chronically guilty of at the moment). So why is it acceptable to compare ourselves to those worse off? Ok, we get some perspective, but is it fair? Either on us or them? Again, we only have our own view on things, and our own take on how someone else may be doing. We only know as much as they are willing to share, and we extrapolate the rest. This applies whether we’re comparing up or down.
Yes, we need perspective. But I think it has to come from within ourselves. Browbeating ourselves into either feeling better or worse based on someone else’s perceived (mis)fortune is not creating perspective. It’s adding to the many sticks we all carry around to beat ourselves with. We are where we are. If something is making me feel bad on any given day, comparing myself to someone worse off won’t help. I will still feel bad, I’ll just also feel guilty to boot. And if I’m aspiring to be like someone else, I will still end up feeling bad, because I can’t be anyone other than myself, no matter how much I want to. Change, if it comes, will come slowly, from within, when I’m ready.