On a recent trip away for a few days, I was sitting outside at the gas firepit at the resort I was staying at with other guests on vacation just like myself. It was a nice evening, the sky was clear, the stars were brightly shining, yet I was miserable. Why? Because I kept comparing my life to everyone else’s there.
The one thing I often find myself doing when I talk with others, especially new people that I just met is comparing their life’s achievements to my own, which honestly is probably one of the unhealthiest things a person can do because it either swells one’s ego or deflates it, with major emphasis being placed on the word ego here.
Comparing oneself to anyone is simply an ego-based move. Most who do it generally hope to feel better about themselves when they do it, that somehow maybe they’ve done more, seen more, earned more achievements, accolades, etc., in life. In my case, due to years filled with health problems that drastically have slowed me down, it’s typically been the opposite, where I feel like I’m a nobody after comparing myself to another.
I kind of felt that way after comparing myself with this couple my partner and I met at that resort firepit that night. They had travelled much of the world, lived in some majorly cool areas of the country, worked in a number of amazing jobs that paid very well, been married happily for 21 years with 4 kids who were all successful, and well just seemed like they had lived a pretty darn good life. I think my ego got deflated the most when I learned the woman’s current profession at 46 years old was a professional nanny for a very wealthy family who takes her on trips to places like Hawaii where she gets paid to go on vacation with them and play with the kids in the sand.
Yikes! Just writing about this further deflates my ego even more because on a direct comparison, my ego makes me believe I’m far less relevant or important when I have no real idea of what those people, or anyone really, have gone through, or are going through, that I probably wouldn’t want. It’s a lot like how I feel with Facebook. Most people post happy-go-lucky things on their timelines with smiling faces and cool places, and rarely express their troubles of life. I mean how often do we see people posting that they are in bankruptcy or suffering from addiction or struggling to pay their bills or going through a divorce, etc. The fact is, taken at face value for what one sees or hears with others, especially people they don’t know or just met, it’s a sure deathtrap for the ego comparing oneself to any of them, particularly for someone struggling with a low self-esteem like I have been in recent years.
While I may not have travelled to all corners of the globe, or be in some job presently that is making a serious impact on bettering the planet somehow, or earning a huge paycheck or any paycheck for that matter, or have chiseled muscular features, or have a family, a big home in an exclusive neighborhood, or any number of other ego-coveted things in this life presently, what I do have is a good heart and honest life, filled with a desire to be more selfless than selfish, giving more than taking, accepting more than judging, and kind more than angry. For me, those things are priceless, not just because we live in a world seemingly filled with so much of the opposite these days, but because the former addict in me never had those qualities or even cared about having them.
And ironically, during the majority of my addiction-fueled days, I had the very things my ego often listens for in others at places like resort firepits, but I was never any happier, at peace, or filled with joy when I had them. The more that I remain clean and sober and work on my life in recovery from many former addictions, the more I see how fruitless it is to compare myself to anyone, because I haven’t lived their life, they haven’t lived mine, and honestly, I don’t think God cares. I think what really matters and what God cares about is being there for each other, something I continue to strive for, one day at a time.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson