If something bounces around in my brain long enough sooner or later it will come out. Today’s blog is about one of those ‘somethings’. We humans are a fascinating lot. One of our biggest faults lies in failing to celebrate ourselves as unique individuals. We continuously compare ourselves to others around us. We always come up short in those comparisons.
Many Cervantes, Christopher Marlowe and John Donne have all echoed a quote attributed to John Lydgate circa 1440, That quote is…’Comparisons are odious.’ Shakespeare had Dogberry say, ‘Comparisons are odorous.’ in Much Ado About Nothing.
I don’t know why we endlessly compare ourselves. Each of us is unique and individual. Many things go into forming each of us. I tend to think that we compare apples and oranges. Think about it. When you compare yourself to someone else, you are comparing a snapshot of the outside of their house to the inside of your house. You see their ‘outside’ for intervals. You see yourself 24/7-365. You know all that has happened to you, you know where all of your ‘holes’ and dirty corners are. You see their cleaned up outside. You don’t see inside their memories, their heads, their hearts like you see yourself. You see yourself based on what you think others think. Yes, I am well aware that I am using ‘you’ and ‘we’ is a much better fit.
Our parents do so much in helping us form a picture of ourselves. We oldest children have a special challenge. The only ones in our family are adults, and we most definitely are not. The expectations we set for ourselves are based on adult behaviors. I would also say that I never saw my parents as anyone but ‘mom’ or ‘dad’ until I was an adult. I could then see them with a more balanced perspective. Growing up, they never told me they knew everything. I was convinced they did. They knew so much more than I did, and that had to mean they knew everything. All of the other adults in my child life knew everything, too. My friends’ parents, my teachers…they knew it all.
I think that high school and the teen years starts cluing us into the fact that our child’s perception of adulthood is not necessarily accurate. Teens rebel against that perception and fight to prove it wrong. Once we reach adulthood we know we are not perfect. Most days, I am not sure I am even an adult. (I am 63 years old) Obviously, I entertain perceptions about others that I don’t see in myself. This proves what I was trying to say. I see other adults in my world. I see them in brief encounters or even a long chat or two. I do not see everything that is going on in their mind at that moment. I do not see all of the events in their past that has brought them to this point. I do not hear all the taunts of others, the scoldings adults gave them-all of the incidents that formed their picture of who they are.
They don’t see me that way, either. I also don’t see myself the same way they see me. The view from the inside is always different from the view from the outside. We can step outside of our physical dwelling and see what everyone driving down our street, walking past our house or down our alley sees. We cannot set outside of ourselves to get that same perception.
I have no answers to this. I needed to think about it some more, and so I fired up the blog, hit the keyboard and started thinking.
I remind myself constantly that each of us is a wonderful, dynamic individual. Rae, who is very dear to me, has just done a series of paintings. Rae paints individuals who are important to Rae. They are painted with many beautiful, dynamic rainbow colors. It never ceases to amaze me how much those colors bring those people to life, they make me want to know them. Each of us is an individual full of many beautiful, dynamic colors that make us who we are. Blend those colors, put them together again and again and again and you will never get the same result twice. We are each a unique combination. THAT is what makes comparing ourselves to others odious, or odorous. We need to celebrate our individuality. We should NEVER judge another for their individuality.
Years ago, I read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle. The kids visited a planet where everything was the same. Picture yourself on a planet where everyone and everything was the same. I tried that and my answer was that is a picture of Hell.
We share ‘colors’ with others, but each of us still has our own unique blend. Celebrate who and what you are!
These photos are meant to celebrate the colors, the uniqueness of each of us. Nature gives us wonderful examples.