Humans compare things.
Like at the grocery store, we look at two pears and choose the one that is generally blemish-free. We go to a new restaurant, assess what others are wearing, and learn if we’re over- or under-dressed. We drive through a neighborhood and see how it differs from our own. We see social media posts and internalize short-comings or feelings of pride that “we’re better.”
Comparison is the thief of joy, but it’s inherent that we compare ourselves and our things with others and their things (after all, we’re social creatures who truly don’t want to be social outcasts).
As long as we go into life grateful for the gifts we’re given, comparison is just a thing we do, right? It gives us guideposts on how to interact with others. It just happens.
But if a comparison is going to potentially stoke insecurities, should you put a stop to it? Like, if it does no one good, why compare so openly?
Growing up, my mom’s side of the family had a lot of family get-togethers = plenty of cousins and friends to play with. We’d make up games to play and have just so much FUN.
Occasionally, we’d take a break, grab a snack in the kitchen, and a parent would tell us to stand back-to-back and compare our heights. The rest of the parents would assemble and there’d be oohs and ahhs and even laughter sometimes.
I hated these comparisons (can you guess how I fared?). There were two other girls I was often pitted against (we were decently close in age) and due to my genetic makeup and late-bloomer status, I was always the smaller one even though I was older.
And the laughter. Why was it funny? I’d stand there as a grown-up would put their hand on my head and show everyone how deficient I was. In these impromptu match-ups, I was often the “loser” and “not good enough.” Sigh. It wasn’t funny the first time, it wasn’t funny the tenth time.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand genetics, environmental factors, and how everyone’s different, but now even as an adult, sometimes a remark about height brings back the sting.
The Cycle Stops
This past weekend, my parents brought my nephews over so that the four grandchildren could play together. At one point, my mom mused, “Who’s taller?” and suggested the two older boys stand back-to-back so she could take a photo. I heard this from another room and called out, “Why? What does that accomplish?” I walked over and saw H and R giggling back-to-back on their tiptoes. My mom conceded that it wasn’t a necessary thing to do and dropped it.
Should I have allowed my insecurity to color the situation? Probably not. Will my children be the tallest or shortest among their peers? No idea. Have I encouraged my children to embrace their qualities and know that God made everyone different? You bet your bottom dollar. And I’ll continue to rally behind them, no matter how many comparisons they’ll be subjected to.