Getting Joy Back

I was barely four when I noticed the other girls in my ballet class. I remember distinctly my friend who had long, dark, flowing hair and was tall, at least tall for a four year old and had a thin build. I on the other hand was a normally sized not tall but not short, not large but not incredibly tiny either four year old.  However, all I knew was I didn’t look like my friend who I thought was beautiful. And all I wanted was to look as beautiful as I thought she was and whether I realized it or not it changed the way I danced and acted in the class because I didn’t see myself as good as she was. Theodore Roosevelt once stated, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” At four years old I learned what it was like to have joy stolen because of comparing myself to someone else. I may not remember that friend’s name but the lesson she taught me will forever be imprinted on my heart…

Today I had ballet, and as a twenty two year old I could  have reverted back to my four year old self in dance class.  I was reminded in class how easy it is to revert back to those thoughts and that attitude of comparison. Here we are college women  in unflattering leotards and tights standing in front of a full length mirror taking up the whole side of the room. Even more it’s a class where you are constantly required to look at yourself in the mirror to make sure you are doing the right dance moves. Let me be really honest here and add to that of list of things  and say that I am in no manner the most skilful ballet dancer. I may have had times in my life where dance was an important part of my life and I was a decent dancer but that is not now and my ballet skills now are definitely less than great.:)

For years Ed tortured my thoughts in everything from ballet to clothes shopping. I constantly compared myself to the models in magazines, to women I passed in stores, and even my best friends. I was never pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough, fashionable enough, good enough, to name just a few. Today I looked at the girl in the mirror, the one who got ready for class in less than ten min, hair in a messy bun, no make up, in the not so flattering leotard, the girl who wasn’t quite keeping up with all the steps, and I smiled at her. I even laughed a little to myself, because I like that girl, in fact I love her. She is real. She is messy. She is completely imperfect. She may not be the best dancer or look incredible in that leotard but she is beautiful inside and out.

If I let myself I could compare myself to the beautiful people around me in the ballet class and otherwise…it would be so easy to do that. However, they aren’t me and I am not them. We don’t share the same stories, struggles, passions, and desires that make us who we really are, so why would I compare myself to someone who I am not? If I have learned anything in my relationship with Ed it is that he uses lies to tell you, that you aren’t worth it etc. and that so and so over there is better and if you looked and acted like she did you would be better. I spent years and years in this desperate trap and ended with up with nothing but despair. Comparing yourself does nothing but as Roosevelt says steal your joy. And steal my joy it did for so many years, but not anymore!

I would be lying if I said at times it wasn’t difficult to compare myself to someone else, not just in looks but in their life in general. It’s easier to do than we might think and it takes guarding your thoughts to learn not to succumb to such lies of comparison. However, it is so worth it!! When I spend less time looking at others lives and comparing them to mine then I have more time to see the blessings and joy mine is filled with. There is so many wonderful blessings in our life that we often never see when we spend time focusing on the things we don’t have. Believe me it is still a lesson I am learning. However, it is a lesson I couldn’t have learned with Ed’s lies still swimming in my head but when they went away it was easy for the comparison to go too.

Friend, maybe you hear those lies and they cause you to compare yourself with others. Maybe you are desperate because your joy is being stolen. Maybe you don’t have an Ed but you have something else in your life that causes you to compare yourself with others. Let me say this loud and clear…IT IS NOT WORTH IT!  I say that with so much love and compassion because I know how difficult it can be to realize this and let go of  what is stealing your joy but you CAN do it! I want you to realize that only YOU can be the most amazing, wonderful, beautiful, wise version of you, no one else can do that, so why compare yourself with someone who can NEVER be you?! Know that comparison only steals your joy and I want your life to be filled with joy!! And may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH IT!!

<3MK

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