Sunday, November 22, 2009

Friendly Comparison Games

Another forum has had me thinking about friendly comparison. Maybe it is human nature to see others and their accomplishments, or lifestyle, or life choices, and wonder about our own. I'm not sure. Maybe I lack that "gene" or maybe, I've just grown out of it. To me, it is a dangerous and self-destructive cycle to compare oneself against another. The old adage about someone, somewhere has it worse than you, can likewise be stated, someone, somewhere has it better than you.

One of my friends has this uncanny ability to always say the right thing, always stay in a job she hates with people who are lazy and as un-hardworking as her. Her lip never seems bent or bitten, she just seems to be able to navigate the treacherous lanes of the business world, and succeed. Her empathy toward others never falters, if you are her friend, it seems you're her friend for life. She even overlooks the crappy things that other friends do to her, and still speaks to them. On top of that, she's good with money, ALWAYS has the best clothes, the perfect nails, the cutest hair cuts, and the whitest teeth. She amazes me!

I'm nothing like her. If I tried to compare myself to her, I'd be a complete failure. My clothes are not cute (hard to be "cute" at 6'1"), my nails - yeah, they're short and not manicured, and everyone knows, the business world befuddled me.

One of my other friends... and I'm pausing here to reflect... he is. In the 15 or so years that I've been able to consider him a friend, I've never been more impressed or amazed. He likewise, always seems to know the right things to say (or not to say at all!!), is kind, compassionate, caring, friendly, helpful, nice, fun, good with money; just an all around great guy. The first time I met him he was putting shoe-goo into the soles of his running shoes. I started to laugh at him. He smiled told me the shoes were perfectly good, just that the soles were wearing out. What made that more ironic is that he and his family are extremely wealthy. You would never know it though for the wealth is never flaunted, never pushed, never, ever, ever discussed. Humility runs deep in that family. As you can imagine, he's always been sort of on a pedestal for me. A great man from a great family with a great backbone and solid heart.

I'm nothing like him either. If compared myself to him, I'd be a complete failure. I'm dirt poor, not that frugal (hell no, I'd BUY new shoes if it meant selling CDs at the local pawn shop), never seem to know the exact right thing to say, and certainly not always funny. (Yes, bambi needed to be put in my car!)

Another one of my friends is a horse rancher and researcher. She has a couple of little guys and she's an awesome mom! She also speaks what is on her mind sometimes tactfully and sometimes not, she does what she thinks she is the right thing to do no matter what, is frugal with her money, divorced her p.o.s. husband before he could hurt their kids, AND got solid A's as an undergrad at the normal u-grad age. She works like a dog - horses, dogs, kids, job... and somehow makes it all gel.

I'm nothing like her either. If I compared myself to her, I'd be lazy, still dirt poor, didn't get A's in anything but tennis and golf in undergrad, and my son's issues along with my ex are already well noted.

Last, there is my friend who many years ago set up a play date with her son and mine. She and her family had moved here from L.A. to make sure their son had a good midwestern upbringing. My son came home one day from the local mall's child activity center (romper room with capital FUN) and said he'd given out our very private, very unpublished phone number to this woman and her husband. I was horrified. Then... she called. I was polite wondering what kind of drug runners they had to be to escape from L.A. notorious drug investigation squads. Then she asked to meet me. Politely, as is the nature of our region, I agreed. Harmless, right? I mean the drugs aren't going to be sold to me in the mall! Therein, ensued a more than humbling experience for me.

Her husband was at the top of the legal ladder at "the" largest movie making studio in L.A. He had graduated #1 in his class at UCLA Law, editor of the law review; she was a physical therapist. He had a movie produced starring Bruce Willis and yes, his name is on the backside of the DVD cover. They are an incredible couple and amazing parents. Their love for one another, their love and unending patience for their child who is beyond blessed to have "them" for parents is what Hollywood movies are meant for. All three of them are brilliant.

I'm nothing like any of them either. I'm not brilliant, will not graduate #1 in anything - ever, will never have a movie produced or made about me, and do not have their patience. While I adore my son and will forever despite his grievances with me, I'm not an amazing parent. I'm just a mom who tries, and tried, hard.

With all of that, I'd be a failure if I compared myself to just four of my friends. In their own right, each one of them is successful in their own way.

And so am I, in mine.

So to those of you who read this (and I know you do), please stop with the comparisons to your straight A friends who go to Ivy league schools and got the "big initial degrees" from those Ivy league schools.

YOU are special and awesome in your own way. Find it. And find a way to congratulate yourself on being ... just you.

Make it a great day!

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