Sunday, September 30, 2018

Not "I should" but "I get to"...

I was at someone's house recently admiring the d├ęcor and thinking, "I should really do something like this." Then I realized that wasn't exactly what I meant. The should needed to be removed. What I was really thinking is, "This is great. How could I take some of this and make it work for me?"

There's a big difference. Let me back-track.

For all of my life, really, I've noticed that women (I guess this could relate to men as well, but I see it far more often with women) tend to go all or nothing when it comes to stacking themselves up against other women.

Very often when we look at how another women dresses, cares for her kids, decorates her house, moves up the corporate ladder, whatever -- we either want to completely disparage her choices because they are so far from what we would do...or we completely disparage ourselves for not measuring up.

And so, there are times during interactions when a silent dialogue is going on in our heads. And some could range anywhere from I would never let my kids stay up that late to I could never pull off wearing that outfit.

I feel as if for as long as I can remember, I've heard two messages. One is that we should live and let live and what other moms or women may choose to do is not our business -- we should be confident and secure about the decisions and hobbies and overall ways we decide to live our lives.

But I'm starting to think there is another path, and it's one on which I'd prefer to tread. It looks at another woman and maybe thinks, You know, that's not that way I would handle that. Without superiority, just an acknowledgment. Without approval, because it's okay to disagree with someone and still love them and value them. Somehow I feel we've fallen so far from this in our culture.

I can also, and this is what I've really enjoyed discovering, look at another person and see everything she's doing right, and make room for admiration. This can be so. darned. hard. It's so easy to swing from, Wow, this house is so beautifully decorated to I suck at of this homey stuff and always will. Comparisons will leave us dry and lifeless and they keep us self-focused. Not only that, but comparisons are about measuring up; admiration or appreciation, on the other hand, acknowledge a gift, a talent, a way a person is living that is just done well. And when I'm able to do that, I'm able to not so much think about how I could be that person, but rather how I could a take piece of that and make it my own.

We are not meant to be clones. We each have a unique calling and purpose. But rather than a clean slate I wonder if we aren't each more like a patchwork quilt. Our lives are beautiful collections of experiences, memories, failures, joys, tragedies, irritations, and interactions. We are still one of a kind even as we emulate that person who's so good at hosting or cut my hair like a friends' or make a meal for someone like a neighbor did. Even our Pinterest fails make us richer.

It's not about just letting it all hang out and letting people learn to have to deal with you. It's about being secure enough to know maybe you don't have it all figured out and there are other people who may have pieces you're missing. But they may not. It's not that we have to try improve ourselves. It's that we have an opportunity to grow, if we want to, if we so choose. If we see it less like a bad verdict on our worth, and more like having an adventure.