Comparison is the Thief of Joy and other lessons I should have learned by now

Me comparing myself to strangers is nothing new.

When I was a kid, I became obsessed with characters in movies, books, and TV. And when I was old enough to realise they weren’t real people, I became obsessed with the actors who portrayed them. And once I was old enough to realise they weren’t real people, I… uh, yeah. I was still obsessed with them. When I was about 10 or 11, I discovered my mom’s high school year books, and became fixated with people in the pages, imagining what their lives were like, giving them back stories and pairing them off. I loved other people’s photo albums, other people’s year books, for the same reasons. And when I became a young adult and blogs and social media became not just A thing but THE thing, it was like realtime photo albums and year books – but for real people. Seemingly real people in my stratosphere.

I just liked learning about other people’s lives. And what came along with that, rather insidiously, was endless comparison. What me and my life looked like stacked against every one else’s.

You guys, I’m in my 30’s now and nothing about the above has changed. In fact, it’s only gotten worse. Thanks to social media, I’m always often distracted by Other People’s Lives to the point where it’s detrimental to my own sense of self (says my therapist).

People on the internet have it all together. There’s nothing like perfectly imperfect curated feeds with consistent, matching over exposed and slightly pink but not obviously pink filters; lovely and perfect pastel or colorful and gold tone sparsely placed flat lays; homes with elegant but casual decor – the effortless but unattainably chic blend of “quirky” knick-knaks and high end modern furnishings and beautifully “messy” rooms; “I woke up like this” artfully tossled or thrown up hair seflies; impossibly organised pantries with chalkboard labels and mason jar storage in copper wire baskets; perfectly comfortable, perfectly ripped and perfectly rolled jeans with amazing shoes; blasè mentions of brilliant careers or stay at home mom projects; workspaces with industrial stationery and expensive technology; kids that will be smarter, funnier, and better dressed than you or yours will ever be; outings with friends that will be 800% more joyful than anything you’ll ever do with your friends; captions that are effortlessly funny or ridiculously relevant with well timed emojis, hashtags as punchlines only; and 678 likes in 24 mins to make me feel like I need to throw out my life and start over. That make me overthink 99% of all my posts. That make me second-guess what I actually want, what I actually like, where I’m going with my life.

Before I know it, I’ve wasted 3 hours of my life falling into a black hole of Instagram posts and Pinterest boards trying to curate a life that I think I really need and want — because @put_together_pipers_mama decorated her room in blush pink and pastel geometric shapes with deer heads and natural wood furniture and damn that looks good on her post so now I’m convinced I need ALL THE THINGS even though I know in my deepest heart of hearts that I don’t own pastel, geometric, marble based ANYTHING because it makes me gag.

But shit, it’s hard not to fall prey to comparison when every time you open a social media app, you’re inundated with people’s high light reels. And people’s poetically phrased fail-reel. Because once you think someone is better than you, even they even seem to fail or fall on hard times, they’re doing it better than you. And it all can make you feel like a wet fart.

Humans are social creatures. We compare ourselves to each other because want, nay need to be liked (this is another soothing bit from my therapist). But what’s happening lately is we’re becoming so consumed with comparison that we’re losing sight of ourselves, with what brings us joy (thanks, doc). So whenever I’m drowning in Not Good Enough, I have to remind myself that these people have shit in their life, too. And not glamorous shit. But real, every day, life draining shit.

They’ve let the laundry pile up for 3 or more weeks.

They’ve spent $200 on groceries just to come home and order $75 worth of pizza.

They’ve waited 3 or more weeks to do laundry and instead of doing laundry, bought new underwear.

They’ve moved the bits and the bobs and the piles of crap and the stacks of shit from one side of the room to the other so they can take a picture of the clean, organised area of the room.

They’ve been alarmed at how bad their arm pits smell. In the middle of the day.

They’ve been sitting in a meeting, mindlessly touching the edge of their chin and found an inch long whisker that sprouted out of nowhere.

They’ve gotten pimples in their ear and only realised it when they put the phone to their ear too fast and with too much pressure and yelped out loud from the shocking pain.

They’ve had explosive diarrhoea in the middle of the afternoon from eating too much dairy.

They’ve done a Google search for a sweater Kristen Stewart wore in Breaking Dawn.

They’ve had diarrhoea and put their feet up on the door when someone used the stall next to them, lest they be recognised by their shoes as Someone Who Has Diarrhoea in the real world. (Why is knowing someone knows you have had diarrhoea the worst thing in the world?)

They’ve gotten awkwardly teary at work when “Must Have Been Love” by Roxette started playing on the radio at work because damnit Vivian just wanted to be loved.

They’ve left a blog post unfinished for 4 weeks only to delete it later.

They’ve failed Alegbra II. (twice!)

They’ve let the one table top surface become so covered in bullshit that they forgot there’s a table underneath it.

They’ve come up with a great come back, 6 weeks later.

They’ve gone to the grocery store specifically to get coffee, milk, and bread, and forgot to get coffee, milk, and bread.

They’ve suddenly come to, only to realise they’ve lost nearly 3 hours and have scrolled 6 years deep into Jenelle Evan’s Instagram.

They’ve had a serious emotional crisis in the grocery store deciding between shampoos.

They’ve waffled between 6 critically acclaimed, award winning, culture shifting movies and ended up binge watching both seasons of The Ashlee Simpson Show. Again.

They’ve spent 40 mins banging out paragraphs of contrary view points, laced with vitriol, in an email or a text message only to delete it all and type “ok that’s fine.” as they grind their teeth to nubs.

They also can’t parallel park without help.

They’ve, on a whim, followed a recipe to a T. They took no photos and put in no pizazz, and the recipe turns out great. They repeat the same recipe to a T on a staged surface, photographing everything, only to have it turn to shit.

 

They’ve almost shit their pants in public. They’ve had a side booger and no one said anything. They’ve felt frumpy and old standing next to someone better dressed, or someone who took a shower that morning. They’ve worked or are working bull shit jobs, they’ve been or are still being rejected. They’re facing heart break. They’ve felt small and neutered. They’ve known that this wasn’t their best, but they did it anyway. They’ve watched loved ones deteriorate from bad decisions or bad luck. Shit, even Beyonce was cheated on.

We are all people. And there’s no escaping the bullshit.

 

 

*they’ve also made an entire blog whinging about First World Problems, that, when compared to say, a child kidnapped and forced in to war, are probably the best problems to have.

 

Two Years

Happy anniversary, Sydney! It feels like just a few days ago we were toasting to my first year here, so it’s hard to believe we are now on year two.

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Two years ago

And what a year it’s been – we moved into our fantabulous new place, we both started new jobs, Joel’s business grew, and I was granted my visa (and Medicare wheeee) leaving less than a year until I’m a permanent resident (fingers crossed!). It’s been a year of change and adjustment, of little adventures, incredible meals, hella laughs, long talks and big plans.

However, I struggled with (more like collapsed under the weight of) personal issues this past year, and that was a huge set back. But facing them was a huge step forward. And slowly but surely, (and with lots of help), it’s getting better. And I still miss my family and friends in the States more than I could ever convey (Thank God for video chats). And starting new jobs and moving meant that more than a few times we scraped coins together to buy a frozen $5 pizza for dinner. #adulting

Even so, I still wake up every morning happy to be where I am. I still think to myself that I’m so damn lucky to be here. I look at Joel and I know – this is where I need to be. The trip I couldn’t afford to take became the trip that changed my life. The most reckless financial decision I ever made became the best decision I ever made.

Today

 

Thanks for everything, Sydney. In the bright, times, and in the dark times, I’m so happy to call you home. Xo

to do, to do, to do

To-do lists? Fuck yeah. I love making a to-do list and scratching off items. It’s fantastic because I get to be all YES I AM THE MOST PRODUCTIVE PERSON EVER and it makes me feel like I’ve made the most of my day and consequently, my life.

But when I haven’t finished everything on my to-do list because I got distracted Googling Jenelle Evan’s latest pregnancy (confirmed via police report!) or by something else equally important I feel twice as worse, 1) because I didn’t finish the list and 2) because I didn’t make the most out of my rapidly slipping time.

Making the most of my time. Time. You bitch goddess. When I’m sitting at my desk trying to make it through a day so painfully bad that I’d skin puppies alive just to go home, the clock almost moves backwards. When I’m at home and it’s raining and we’re just lounging and having a good time, it’s goes from 11 AM to 8 PM in the blink of an eye. The relativity kills me, because I’m obsessed with the idea of making the most of my time, trying to live each day to its fullest, trying to live each day in a way I would be proud to look back on.

Notice how I said “obsessed with the idea of” because I definitely don’t practice it. Well, I mean, I don’t practice it in the way that would typically mean “living life to its fullest.” I’m not out sky diving or skinny dipping in shark nets or travelling the world or exploring every knook and cranny of my new country. I’m sitting on the couch with Joel eating an amazing dinner and watching a great movie. I’m hitting publish on a blog I’m particularly proud of. I’m thinking of projects I would love to do one day. I’m making crafts or plotting re-decorating strategies. I’m meeting friends for dinner and then coming home at 11 PM to sweat pants and bad TV. I’m obsessively cleaning or re-arranging. I’m looking up animal videos and comics on the internet. It’s not sexy and it’s not glamorous, and most of the time doesn’t even add up to good blog material, but it makes me happy.

But it’s this constant battle of “I’m totally happy – but since I’m not doing more, I don’t feel like I should be happy.” Because regardless of how you define living life to its fullest, happiness is the end goal. Yep, I’m a pretty lame home body who enjoys an occasional adventure or weekend night of too many glasses of wine. I want to do that stuff and I want to write. That’s basically all I want to do, what makes me happy. If, at the end of the day, I can say I accomplished something, I feel like I’ve made good use of my time. And when I can look back and I don’t hate myself, I feel like I’m making good use of my time, and living life to its fullest. Double whammy.

That being said, I’m on the fence of how efficiently I’ve spent my time off. I made the mistake of falling off the deep end with my goals and decided I would read 3 books and write 2 stories and 14 blogs and attend 5 meet up events, keep the damned table cleaned off every single day, completely rid myself of every bad habit ever and get myself on a schedule that includes daily writing, posting, and washing my face 2x a day, deep clean every square inch of our apartment, make a quilt, and catch up on seasons 5 and 6 of Downtown Abbey.

While I didn’t completely rid myself of every bad habit ever, I did wake up at 7 AM almost every day. And I didn’t get myself on a schedule, but I found work, read most of a book, started free writing again, stayed on top of the laundry and dishes, found a writing group and a book chat club, had two hair appointments, re-organised my closet and our desk, had phone chats and skypes with my nearest and dearest, made an earrings board, did lots of grocery shopping, made lots of meals, deconstructed a dress for it’s fabric, and I’ve taken like 5 bubble baths.

But because those few boxes are left unchecked, I feel like this has been a wasted opportunity. Forget that I actually decompressed and had a lot of “ah-ha!” moments and some hard talks with myself and some good journaling time and got lots of inspiration and the re-charge that I desperately needed, because I didn’t come out of this holiday a well-read, published author with 100 adventures documented and a finished quilt and a completely clean house, I feel like a failure.

You know what though, fuck it. I started writing this entry yesterday, and today, I don’t feel like a failure. I take it all back. This has been a great, much needed resting period. I’ve gotten a lot of my shit together. I may not have accomplished as much as I expected, I did accomplish. And I don’t hate myself over it. Just because I didn’t do everything doesn’t mean I won’t ever have the chance to do it another time. The hardest part of getting out of this depressive stint is not beating the shit out of myself when I don’t perform as well as I want to, as well as I expect myself to. I really wish there was a way to pause my notion of “expectations” until I feel like I’m capable of meeting them, but them’s the bricks. And in the mean time, I’ll just have to try and manage those expectations as well as I can.

And we get to have burgers and ribs for dinner last night because Joel is awesome.

 

And as of this morning, I finished that book I thought I would have finished last week. Sheeeeit. Time well spent.

Finally!

It happened. At 5:30 PM yesterday my auto response was on, and I’m officially on Christmas holiday for two weeks.

Ahhhhhh yes. This morning started with The Simpsons, real coffee, and not showering and not waiting for a bus that’s inevitably delayed by 15 minutes. Ahhhhhh.

It’s been a while since I’ve made a big catch up post, and I feel a bit bad about that. We’ve been pretty busy and pretty distracted, evidenced by the 5 half-completed blog drafts I have, never ending to-do lists, and the fact that we haven’t made a “real” meal or gone grocery shopping for more than milk since Thanksgiving. So let’s have a nice long chat about what’s been happening!

As you all know, I started a new job in June. Looking back, there were heaps of red flags that I flat out ignored for the sake of a role in media that had creative possibilities and worked with a very respected and acclaimed veteran of the publishing industry. I worked with some brilliant, funny, talented and stylish people, and I wanted the job to be awesome, and there were a parts that were, but overall, the role just never clicked. It felt like I was dating someone with whom I had lots in common, but shared no chemistry. Four months later, with the red flags still piling up, I started to debate what I would do, since it was a good job. But destiny intervened – there was a company restructure, half my team resigned, and I had a choice: accept a role that I had less than no desire for, or resign. So I resigned.

I started a new job at the end of October, and man have I really lucked out. My new job is a lot of fun. I’m working in marketing and customer service for a FABULOUS children’s clothing brand. It’s an honest, ethical, fun loving, award winning small business with a devoted customer base. I work with a small, highly collaborative team, and I’m challenged and learning design, marketing, PR, community management – the works – every day. So it’s kept me hella busy. I’ve had a couple sleepless nights worrying, but thankfully I have heaps of support and co-workers who don’t mind if I ask 8 million questions. I can wear jeans and a t-shirt to work, we crack jokes 90% of the time, most days of the week my boss brings in her dog, and for Christmas, she got me a voucher to usafoods.com. It’s just awesome.

I don’t feel like crying on Sunday nights anymore. I don’t agonize about what to wear to work. I don’t sit at my desk in a funk. If a bus that’ll take me home passes me, I don’t have to fight every fibre of my being to not jump on it. I’ve only been there about 7 weeks or so, but we all agree that it feels like I’ve been there forever. It just fits. 

This new job has kinda chased away the clouds. I knew that I wasn’t satisfied at my old job, but I kept telling myself it would get better. I just didn’t realize how much it drained me. I don’t have the world’s most resilient sense of personal strength, and I absorb every shitty feel ever, so I’m pretty sure I was tapping my reserves just to get through a work week.

But now, I don’t want to hibernate anymore, and I find myself wanting to go out and do more than I have so far this year. I’m not as bummed out all the time. I had a bad week a little while ago (#hormones) but overall, I feel happier and satisfied, and I feel more motivated to work on my writing and the other projects I have kicking around. Feels good man.

Joel also started a new part-time job in November, and he’s also felt a bit of life resurgence. He doesn’t come home drained and flat-out anymore, and he’s able to devote more time to his business and projects. Life around here just feels more upbeat, more positive. It’s exciting!

So that’s the big news… but what else?

In mid-October, we decided to start eating mostly vegetarian meals in the week for dinner. It slashed our grocery budget in half, and we’re more able to just make quick, simple meals straight out of our pantry instead of waiting for meat to defrost and then cook. We had some really good veggie curries, pasta bakes, falafel wraps, nachos and roast veggie salads, and it was all so good. Of course, December came around and we have ordered in every weekend and have had bean burritos during the week. Can’t win ’em all.

I’ve been reading a lot. I finished Dark Places, Room, and High Fidelity and a gossip book in 6 weeks. I’m pretty sure the last time I read 4 books in 6 weeks, I was in college.

I’ve been working on goals for 2016, because I’m always working on goals. I think working on goals is more exciting for me than achieving said goals, so I’m hoping to change that. It’s a goal. 😀

I’ve been trying my hardest to ignore Donald Trump and public shootings and all the fun stuff happening in America. Oh how I live in constant terror for my people.

OH I got all my Christmas shopping done before Christmas! Thank God for Amazon Prime. I felt like dog shit last year when I was broke and couldn’t send gifts in time. I’m sad to not be able to spend the holidays with my family, but at least I’ll have presents there for them 🙂

It’s rainy, grey, chilly, and fabulous outside. There’s a cinnamon apple candle burning beside me, trash TV playing, there’s a lovely Twiggmass tree with presents underneath it, and I’m in sweatpants. Joel is taking me to see Star Wars tomorrow night in the Gold Section (select viewing room, deluxe reclining chairs, drinks and food delivered to you, awww sheeit) and I COULDN’T BE MORE EXCITED!!

Basically, life is really good right now.

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And I’m about to go whole ham on house cleaning.

Sheeeeeeit 🙂