Real talk today.
Everyone knows the comparison trap all too well, am I correct? If you’re not familiar with the comparison trap, I say, “What the heck is your secret and could you please share?!”
The major reason I fell into an eating disorder 2.5 years ago was because I compared my body to my friends’ bodies.
Her legs are so much slimmer than mine.
Her jaw line is so much more pronounced.
My arms aren’t as muscular as hers.
I also compared my eating habits to those of my friends and of bloggers (before I started my own blog).
If she’s eating a salad, I need to be eating a salad too.
Her daily calorie intake is only 1300, so I should follow suit.
She only rarely eats dessert, so I should eat dessert even less frequently.
Although I am immensely grateful that these pesky thoughts do not impact me as profoundly as they did a few years ago, I would be lying if I said I do not struggle with them on a daily basis still. When almost every girl (and guy) is stressing over the freshman fifteen and making new friends, it becomes quite difficult to stay focused on how I function, rather than how everyone else functions.
For instance, I was eating an absolutely delicious piece of banana bread fresh out of the oven (thanks to our generous faculty in residence!) with the heavenly addition of peanut butter smeared on it. Another girl saw that I had peanut butter and excitedly asked if I had some, so of course I offered to share. But then she said, “No, no…it’s too fattening.”
I immediately felt like I was making an unhealthy decision by putting peanut butter on my banana bread and said, “Wow now I feel bad.” But then I realized that no, I don’t feel bad for having the freaking rockstar combination that is banana bread and peanut butter. I know that peanut butter is fat, but I also know that it’s delicious, filled with protein, and it keeps me satiated throughout the night.
I told someone else that I got up at 7:30 AM on Sunday morning because I was starving and I needed to eat something. She was shocked that I couldn’t sleep just because I was hungry. Again, I felt as if I had “bad” eating habits just because I needed a snack in order to sleep, but then I remembered that I know my body, and guess what! I won’t blow up like a balloon just because I ate before going back to sleep!
I know I eat a lot, but I know what I need to fuel me through the day and help me grow.
Several other comparison thoughts often creep into my mind:
My breakfast is huge. Her breakfast is just a bowl of cereal and fruit.
She’s curling a 40 lb. barbell while I’m just curling 20 lb. one.
Her sense of humor is so much more attractive than mine.
She’s more insightful and intelligent than I am.
In the past, these thoughts probably would have given way to frustration and anger at myself for not being “her.” But through prayer and experience, I have come to peace (most of the time) with the fact that I am not “her.” She is not me, I am not her, and that’s exactly how God created us— as unique and beautiful individuals in our own rights.
And you know what I have to say to all those thoughts above?
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for me, so it’s gotta be big and nutritious.
Form matters more than weight. Focusing on form will allow progress.
I am grateful that I have friends that make me laugh my heart out. I don’t need to strive for attention all the time.
I’m at Boston University, dang it. I am capable of succeeding (with God’s help).
ALL THE FAT OF PEANUT BUTTER.
Sure, I know I probably gained quite a bit of weight in this past month. Some of it is probably extra cushioning, but honestly, I know that there’s new muscle in there too.
That aside, college has been an incredible experience of cultivating new friendships, strengthening my faith, discovering new knowledge, and maturing as an adult. I feel stronger— physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually— than ever.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” This was painfully cliche until I realized how much comparison was dragging me down. Once I came to the obvious enlightenment that I’m not her, it was like singing “I’m like a biiiiiird!” (Nelly song throwback, anyone?) In other words, I was liberated.
God creates beautiful beings. You and me both 🙂
So tell me:
Do you often struggle with the comparison trap?
Something you love about yourself!