Last week, I took a call from a client who had to postpone a summer conference until next year. Yes, another one of my 2020 keynote speaking engagements evaporated into thin air. (sigh) After thanking them for their business and letting them know I completely understood and supported their decision, I hung up the phone and did what came naturally…I clicked on Facebook and began mindlessly scrolling, trying not to think about my disappointment or dwindling 2020 conference speaking schedule.
I saw lots of posts about quarantining and silly memes about and distance learning. I came across posts about stress and weight management, including some sponsored ads featuring bikini-clad bodies and too-good-to-be-true weight loss shakes. Ironically, those ads made me want to eat ice cream. I then saw a post from a speaking colleague who was sharing some exciting and lucrative business news. Her post made me want to cry big, fat tears of self-pity.
Please understand I adore this person. She is a talented and brilliant speaker. I have tremendous respect for her and the work she does. And I am happy for her and her success. I’m not generally the jealous type. In fact, I’m usually the cheerleader! Most days, she inspires me. But not last week. Last week, as I compared myself to her, I felt defeated.
Apparently, the line between inspiration and discouragement is a fine one, especially during a pandemic.
I clicked offline, feeling down about myself, my weight, my business bank account, and my productivity. So I went outside to do something productive, and began planting the flowers and herbs I’d picked up earlier in the week from our local nursery.
As I dug my fingers into the damp potting soil, I began to think about social media and how it so easily leads to comparison. Thanks to the Internet, we can compare ourselves to others in just about every aspect of our lives. Of course there are benefits to having virtual access to people (like my speaker-friend) who inspire you to be better and work harder. And yes, it is good to get pushed out of your comfort zone by a new work out, motivational video or e-learning concept. It’s not all bad!
The trouble happens when we let comparison get the best of us and bring us down, rather than allowing it to inspire us. That is when comparison becomes a sneaky energy thief, stealing our joy and clouding our perspective.
In my case, it triggered insecurity and self-doubt. Left unchecked, comparison can breed bitterness and jealousy, which are unnecessary and unproductive. Fortunately, I recognized it for what it was before that happened. Maybe it was the spring sunshine soaking into my back, or maybe the slightly peppery scent of the geraniums that pulled me out of my pity party.
Flowers don’t do that, I thought as I gently lowered a yellow and white striped petunia plant into the soil. They don’t care if the variegated coleus next to it stands taller or the begonias cost more.
They don’t compare.
They just bloom.
I left my comparisons there in the pots on our patio that day, between the banana plant and petunias, beneath the towering oaks and the warm sunshine. Nature reminded me to be still and appreciate my surroundings. To focus on beauty and good. To accept things I cannot change. To be inspired by others. To give myself grace.
To bloom where I am planted.
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