Saturday, September 29, 2012


(Side note - I started writing this post back in APRIL, lol. I just never got around to finishing it but my friend Kathryn got me thinking about it again last week so I found it and am determined to finish!)

I'm going to go a little retro in this post and take you readers waaaay back to 1993. Bill Clinton was president. Gas was $1.16 a gallon. Snoop Doggy Dogg competed for radio time with Nirvana. And I was in the third grade, not caring about the president or gas prices or Snoop Dogg.

Third grade was a pivotal year for me. I had a fantastic teacher, Mrs. Lewis, who I will always credit for fostering my love for learning and encouraging me to get into the gifted programs at school.

Third grade was also the year that I realized that everyone around me was better than me. We had some insanely smart and talented kids in my grade. And I remember sitting in the classroom one day and thinking that out of that grade of smarts and talents, I wasn't the "best" at anything. I have never felt more un-special in my entire life than I did that day.

My 8 year old self took my bruised ego home, and there, I got some of the best advice that I have ever gotten, and it has stuck with me to this day. My mom could tell that I was bummed about something, and I told her how I was never going to be the "best". Chace is better at me at geography and spelling. Yuta is better at math. Wes is better at PE. Blair has better clothes. What was I the "best" at?? What made me special??

My mom told me that it's not a single talent or attribute that makes somebody unique and special - it's the combination of skills and talents that makes you who you are. And nobody in the world is going to have the exact same combination that you do. She said that I can't put myself up against every single person in the world in every single category, because there will ALWAYS be somebody who is "better". But you know what? That doesn't mean that I'm "worse". It's just different. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and it's that combination that makes us unique. She also told me that I cannot take other people's talents and successes personally - their lives have no bearing on mine, and their strengths are not a reflection of my weaknesses. There will ALWAYS be somebody with more money or better clothes or different achievements in life, but that should not make me feel like my life and my achievements are a failure. She said to focus on what I have in my life to be grateful for and what I am proud of, and not to focus on what I perceive other people to have.

3rd grade - I'm the one in the super cool floral dress
fourth grade
Here's a little more elementary school nostalgia, just for fun. I'm again, in the middle, in the super cool  floral dress
I remind myself of this advice while I'm Facebooking or Pinteresting or catching up on blogs. The internet gives us so much access and insight into other peoples' lives, but on the other hand - it really doesn't. Our online faces are just snapshots - nobody is seeing the full movie except ourselves. I don't think that's necessarily a bad or unnatural thing - we all like to put our best face forward, even online. And I think it's unfair to expect people to put all their dirty secrets and day-to-day struggles out in the open just to make other people feel better about themselves. On the other hand, I think it's also unfair to ourselves if we get caught up in competing with what we see online. The key is to draw inspiration and foster admiration - not to get caught up in feeling inferior. I often recognize things that I could personally work on from seeing things online, but I take it as positive direction, not as negative self-talk. My third grade self already learned that you can't compete head to head with all of your friends. That lesson is amplified when you look at the "bests" from all over the world - trying to compete with everybody in everything is self-defeating and impossible to win.

I have to consciously remind myself that the beauty and talents I see in my friends and online are not a reflection on me. Another person's life plan doesn't invalidate mine. Another person's impeccable wardrobe is an inspiration to me, not a criticism of me. And I can freely admire someone's beautifully executed craft project while laughingly trashing my own Pinterest fails. I have my own strengths and my own talents, and I think I have finally learned to love being me...even if it did take me 20 years to get there.



Lisa Elaine said...

What a great post!

Adventures with Little man said...

Excellent post! So perfectly writte and is a truely great outlook. Your mom is wise.

Kathryn said...

It makes me smile that I am sitting next to you, but seriously couldn't they hide the fat kid in the back? Thanks for being my friend anyway. I loved 4th grade, I think it was my favorite elementary school year. And dang, Chase was always the best with geography and spelling.

Kelly said...

Great post!!!!