The Comparison Game

The Comparison Game

My husband’s aunt has, well, a specific pallet when it comes to recipes. While I try to stay within her preferred limits as often as possible, our family’s preferred zucchini preparation was well outside the lines. To my surprise, Auntie raved about this side dish and later called to ask for the recipe.

Grilled Zucchini: Slice lengthwise Add to taste: Salt Pepper Extra Virgin Olive Oil Balsamic Vinegar (Fig balsamic if you can find it) Grill until cooked, but still firm.

Auntie was surprised, but proceeded to inform me of her pending substitutions: Auntie’s Version: Place zucchini and in a skillet with butter and sauté. Add to taste: Salt Pepper Red wine vinegar I bet you can guess what happened next, right?

A week or so later I received a call. Auntie’s recipe was disappointing, and she wondered where she had gone wrong. Here’s the thing, she still thought her version tasted fine; it just wasn’t the same. And somehow that made it worse than my version.

Comparison is like this isn’t it?

We observe a family in a similar life situation or we get a taste of a specific aspect of the coaching life that we love, and we can’t help but measure our current circumstances against the recipe for success. For various reasons, the first several years of my husband’s coaching career left me battling comparison. We were married when others were single. We had a child and others didn’t.

Everywhere I turned I felt out of sync with the people in my social circles, and it made me feel very lonely. I kept trying to find the right combination of circumstances to make life feel and look as adventurous as those around me, but I didn’t have the same ingredients. Comparison led me to self-pity, and my pity parties were legendary.

Poor Beth who has this adorable baby who smiles every time he sees her and sleeps through the night but can’t go on a spontaneous road trip. It wasn’t good enough that my sweet husband was home almost every night for dinner, helped around the house on top of his insane football schedule, and prioritized a weekly date night.

Instead of focusing on the fact that my husband was home for dinner, I dwelled on the part of his schedule which required him to go back to the office a few nights a week for recruiting calls and team meetings. I focused on the fact that our diaper budget meant more date nights for dessert than dinner. I spent a lot of time observing the lives of those around me, instead of focusing on the fantastic life right in front of me. But that’s not the only way we deal with comparison.

Social media is the worst at encouraging comparison. We see this adorable family in their matching game day outfits smiling on the field after another amazing win, and we somehow convince ourselves our current situation would be so much better if we, too, wore matching game day clothes or cooked the same meal or tried the same work out or read the same books.

The list is as useless as it is endless.

While comparison tries to convince us that we will be satisfied when our outside matches someone else’s, deep down we know there is more to the story. We will never recreate the exact same recipe for our lives as someone else. It’s impossible because we’re starting with different ingredients. So, here’s my encouragement. Learn from my years of misery and fight against the temptation to compare. Who cares how nice someone else’s house is, or how well behaved their kids who are five years older than yours are (as far as Facebook is telling you).

Sister, look into your husband’s eyes. Pause to really look at his smile. Mama, listen to your children giggle. Watch how the team responds to your man when he’s encouraging them. That’s right, you can say it. You have an awesome life.

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