I’m Not Her

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.”

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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.

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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).

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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.

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“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!

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47 thoughts on “I’m Not Her

  1. This is awesome – I certainly fell deep into the comparison trap throughout college, and looking back I realize how much joy it stole from those four years. Props to you for choosing not to fall into that same trap!
    Something I love about myself: my ability to write 🙂

  2. That quote! Hits me in the right place ❤ .
    I get you on being unable to sleep when even a touch hungry..and sometimes feeling queer with it because it seems like I'm the only one that way around here. I'm certain everyone experiences some form of comparing through life; I think it can even be quite subconscious – so it feels "normal". It's amazing that in my Eating disorder -while being sickly thin- I struggled most with the comparison trap as well..now with a little more cushioning it is far less and never impacts my choices and decisions 🙂 .

  3. Great post! Thanks for covering this topic.
    I think I’m at a similar point as you. I do struggle and compare myself to others sometimes but I do realise it and think to myself that that’s normal and ok – everyone is different!

  4. What a beautiful post! I remember hearing comments like that peanut butter one and other types of things during my first year at college too. But one of my friends mottos has stuck with me since then and she always says ‘you do you’. No one else is you!!!

  5. So, I have been reading your blog for, like… several months, and for whatever odd reason I’ve just never been too keen on commenting. This post was so incredibly amazing that I just had to comment! I can relate to this so, so much, and it’s almost creepy how similar I am to you. I’m a college student as well, a devout Catholic, and our back stories with health/fitness/eating are very alike as well! I’m about to leave for class now, and this post has given me an amazing reminder to stop comparing myself to every other person I see today. Thank you so much! ❤

  6. Thank you for this. Couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I have a lot of trouble with this and unfortunately do not always handle it productively. I love how you countered the stinkin thinkin with true and healthy statements and I making a note to myself to do the same. I get so trapped in my own head its sometimes difficult for me to speak truth to myself. I really look up to you and admire you strength, honesty, the determination. You’re a rare gem Alison and I hope you know that 🙂

  7. This post makes me so happy, because I feel similarly in sooo many ways. College is kind of trying sometimes (haha and I’ve only been here about two weeks), and it makes you question what (who) you’re supposed to know best – yourself. But you just have to do what’s best for you. I’ve been struggling to articulate my thoughts on the “freshman 15” and people’s obsession with it, but I’m getting closer, I think. Maybe after this Socrates paper and a milkshake or two. Beautiful post!

  8. I think it’s pretty hard to escape the comparison trap- it’s always gonna happen! I think you just have to try and realize that whatever your “pros” and “cons” may be are different than anyone else’s, and this is what makes us all so different and unique, and great in our our own individual way. For example, one of my friends naturally has the BEST abs ever, and I just know that I’m probably never going to have abs like that. However, she wishes she had long lean legs, and that’s not something that will come easily to her. Everyone’s got something that someone else is jealous of- just how it is.

  9. The most freeing thing I ever did was stop comparing myself to others. I sometimes felt like I had an “image” to hold up but that is not true. I am just me, no more, no less and I have to do what brings me joy, not what I think others want to see me doing! Very thought provoking post!

  10. LOVE This post, Alison!!! I’m totally guilty of falling into the comparison trap all too often. Isn’t it crazy how we will base our decisions off of what someone else is doing? Maybe they’re only eating that salad because they had ice cream for breakfast 😉 You never know! I’m glad you’ve learned that what’s right for you is right for YOU! 🙂

  11. Absolutely perfectly written. You are SO beautiful, inside and out, Alison!! I’ve definitely fallen victim to the comparison trap many times…. but now I’ve come to accept that I’m NOT her and I’m very different in my needs and tendencies! Another thing I think is how I don’t know what they’re thinking – say they don’t eat a big breakfast, maybe they’re struggling with an eating disorder and wish they could be like you eating a hearty breakfast. You never know what’s going on in everyone else’s mind! I’ve gained some weight in the past few months and you know what? I’m THRILLED. I don’t remember feeling so happy. I guess it’s true we really do have a happy weight!

    Love you!!!

  12. This is really well written lady 🙂 I have to catch myself from falling into the comparison trap on a daily basis but there really is so much freedom in knowing that we are uniquely made in God’s image. I just have to remember this!!! I’m a work in progress…

  13. Alison – you rock for writing this. You said it perfectly. Comparison is so bad, and it is hard not to fall into it on a daily basis. I sure hope that girl finds the day where she adds PB to her banana bread, and realizes it is amazing fuel. I’m slowly learning how to get myself out of that comparison trap, and realize I have to live for me.

  14. I completely feel this way as well as I am struggling to try to keep my friends from discussing the freshman 15. It is helpful to let them know about my past. But honestly, I am so proud of you for keeping strong!!! Hope BU is as wonderful for you as you deserve.

  15. This is an unbelievably beautiful post and I appreciate so much the heart you put into writing it.
    One of my favorite quotes [summed up] basically states that comparing ourselves to others is basically telling God he didn’t do a good enough job with us. Something that I’ve learned over the years? GOD DOESNT MAKE MISTAKES. I was born to have these thunder thighs, so Im going to embrace them and use them to the best of my ability. Comparing my legs to someone else’s is pointless. In the end, I can’t hack of these legs and replace them with another pair.
    Comparison is truly the thief of joy, and we miss out on so much joy that God has created for us because of it. Great post ❤

  16. Yes. And this is why I hope you go through your earlier posts and contrast it to now. Progress.

    Everyone does the comparison of themselves to others. But it’s those who overcome them, like you have, which shows success. You do you. Let them do them. Keep rockin’ on.

  17. It is so easy to fall into this trap. I wish I could say that it fades with age but it doesn’t, it just changes form. I compare myself to other bloggers, other CrossFitters, all of my friends my age and their careers. But then I remember that I am me, I am my choices, I know what it best for me, what my achievements are and my progress.
    You just must remember you have addressed your health, looked and your diet and fitness, you know what you now NEED rather than what you think you should have. Others have yet to have the journey. So you keep rocking that breakfast, that banana bread and your awesome choices. Because only you know you 🙂

  18. Beautiful post, lovely. It’s super easy to fall into the comparison trap, but whenever it happens, I find it really helps to put things back into a realistic perspective… like you did. It’s like… sure… we could eat less, exercise more, avoid this, avoid that… but would we be happy as a result? Probably not. Actually, -definitely- not. I’ve been there and done that, and it just wasn’t worth it in the least. It’s also good to remember not to compare your behind-the-scenes with someone’s highlight reel. Everything looks good on the surface — we never know what other things people are dealing with, though.

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  20. Used to, until I started training for my first marathon. My calves and thighs got even bigger but all I could think of was how these miracles got me through 26.2. Set a goal so much bigger than your wildest dreams, and I promise you one day, these pesky self-demeaning thoughts will wither and fade in the light of a new strong determination to reach that goal.

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  22. you have such a healthy outlook on food that so many girls your age don’t have!! I too need healthy fats (peanut butter) every morning to feel satisfied and I also need a snack before bed. Otherwise I wake up sooo early because I’m hungry! Keep feeding your body what it needs!!

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