When we were first married, Isaac had a surfboard with a stencil of Audrey Hepburn’s face on it. I called it, “The Bitch”. In Isaac’s defense, Audrey’s face was on that board before we were married or even dating, which made NO difference to me. The black spray painted beauty was a threat. It should be MY face on that board, dammit! (If you think this sounds irrational, you haven’t been in the mind of a 23 year old newlywed.)
You know the strange part? I would not want my face on Isaac’s surfboard. I mean, how weird would that be? Creepy, actually. Why was I so concerned with Audrey? I didn’t even want what she had. Oh, but I was mad/sad/jealous/threatened/insecure/irrational. Completely lacking perspective, or a sense of how insignificant the whole thing was, my hatred for The Bitch grew.
A few months into our marriage, we were headed to Ventura in Isaac’s pickup truck. The Bitch was in the back (where she belonged). As we cruised up the 101, I witnessed a merciful act of God - a strong wind whipped off the Pacific, into the bed of the truck and knocked The Bitch onto the freeway. As we pulled onto the shoulder, I tried hard not to crack a smile. But, it felt so good to see Audrey’s face laying flat against the asphalt as cars raced by. He’s MY man, biotch.
My jealousy was left on the 101.
We aren’t always that lucky, are we? It’s not often that the subject(s) of our envy are destroyed on the highway. No, jealousy will fester and burden us as long as we let it. It’s hard to find freedom.
Jealousy fools us into thinking we are missing out. It’s rooted in comparison. Instead of focusing on who we are, we dwell on who we aren’t.
They are this. I am not.
They have this. I do not.
They can this. I cannot.
I am not. I do not. I cannot.
Hopeless. Empty. Broken.
When we invite comparison, we open the door for jealousy. Worse yet, we fail to recognize the gifts in our own lives.
Yesterday I was lucky enough to meet two friends (one yogi and one rookie) for yoga at Ekam Yoga. We were all pretty gitty about yoga with friends in a “toddler free” zone. We warmed up and started to flow. I was feeling great – energized, focused, excited, strong, peaceful, optimistic… and on and on.
I have been practicing yoga regularly for about 6 months now. I’m becoming more confident in my practice, but struggle with arm balances, crow pose included. It’s a good kind of struggle though. I know I can improve and am generally not that preoccupied with it.
As we flowed through Sun Salutation B, our instructor set us up for crow pose. We were going to do it three times through – a great opportunity for me to practice.
Breathe, you can do this. Focus – gaze forward, knees into triceps, triceps into knees, abs abs abs, gaze forward, lean forward, lift foot, abs abs abs, lift other foot….
Slam! Face plant.
As I pulled myself up to try again, I saw my rookie friend in the corner of my eye. She was rocking crow pose. Balancing beautifully on her triceps with both feet off the ground.
And I had a moment.
Well, shoot. Shoot! You’re kidding me. That’s not fair. It doesn’t make sense. I can’t even do it. My arms, my damn arms! It’s because I’m scared. I’m too scared and I will always be that way. This is pointless. Shit, I’m sweaty. This sucks.
The momentary comparison sucked the joy, excitement, confidence and gratitude right out of me. I went from “lucky duck” to “whoa is me” in a matter of seconds. Jealousy, it’s a bitch. Isn’t it?
Earlier that morning, as I thought about doing yoga with friends, I reminded myself of my tendency to compare. I warned myself to stay focused on my practice and look to the talent and ability of others only for inspiration. The brief preparation equipped me for that moment – I heard myself and recognized the trap I was stepping into.
I called bullshit.
This time of yoga and friends will not be ruined by my own mental shenanigans. No way! Plus, how awesome is she? It’s her first time here and she is holding crow pose?! She must workout.
Way to go brave friend! Yeah, that’s my friend there! My friends are awesome! Gosh, I’m lucky!
I don’t want to compare. Instead, I want to focus on who I am, what I can do, what I have. What unique qualities do I have? How am I strong? Where do I kick ass?
I will celebrate those things. And, I will celebrate the awesomeness of my friends, family, and neighbors.
Is comparison holding you back? What’s your bitch surfboard? Find it and leave it on the freeway. Because, dear friend, you are perfectly you. Celebrate who you are, what you have and all that you can do. Be free!
A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.