I’ve been getting fired up quite a bit lately about comparison and competition among people, but especially among women. It all started when the darling little girl I nanny for wanted to play superheroes. For the past three years, she has been all about princesses/mermaids/fairies, but in the past few months, she’s found the beauty in roundhouse kicking pretend villains in the throat.
We began planning out our super-adventure for the day and, first things first, characters were established. As per usual, she claimed Supergirl. Typically, I’m assigned Superman without having a say in the matter, which doesn’t bother me in the least. However, this day I was inspired to request an alternative.
“M, maybe today I could also be a girl hero. How about Wonder Woman?”
“Ummm. . .yeah. As long as you can still fight the bad guys with me.”
One very important thing must happen before you can save the world, and that’s accessorizing. We began adorning ourselves with all manner of sparkly headbands and capes. Just as we were devising an evil plot for world domination to later defeat, M piped up with a concern.
“Actually, Miss Chelsea, I think maybe you shouldn’t be Wonder Woman.”
“Oh, okay. Why not?”
“Well, Wonder Woman is, like, really pretty. Which makes Supergirl not as pretty.”
I felt sick. This hilarious, creative, brilliant, beautiful, inspiring little lady had grasped onto a deeply disgusting trend floating about modern culture: comparing and competing with her peers.
This is absolutely ridiculous to me for a plethora of reasons—the biggest of which is rooted in something I am deeply passionate about: individuality.
Every single person who ever has or ever will walk on the face of the earth is vastly different. If people were meant to all be the same, there would be no need for so many of us to exist. Let me put it like this: every human is born with a different perspective. There are endless perspectives and world views and we all have one that is uniquely our own. From the moment we’re born, our journey to discover the piece of life we hold begins to unfold.
For a visual, let’s pretend that we are each born with a unique color: If I am born with turquoise, but I spend the rest of my life trying to have the color dandelion, like my best friend, everyone I know will miss out on turquoise, because no one else has it! Dandelion is a lovely shade, but it wouldn’t be mine. How selfish would it be to deprive everyone of your color?
And that’s exactly what happens when we compete with the people around us.
If I’m constantly trying to be Beyoncé, I’ll never become Chelsea. And I love Beyoncé. The woman is an unstoppable force of glamour and talent, but being Beyoncé is her job, not mine. It’s up to Beyoncé to be Beyoncé and it’s up to me to be the best version of myself that I can be.
This isn’t to say that I can’t be inspired by the people I love. Quite the contrary, I am always discovering beautiful pieces of my friends that leave me speechless. I love to collect the beautiful things my friends carry and learn to act them out through my distinct filter. If I tried to use their gifts the exact same way they do, I wouldn’t get very far—because we’re all made in unique ways.
Now, a few words about competing: I know that we are all guilty of this to some degree. How many times have we seen someone and thought “Oh, if I just had legs like that,” or, “My life would be so much easier if I could blow my hair out like her”?
There is nothing wrong with admiring people. In fact, I think it’s necessary for healthy relationships. But when that admiration is immediately followed by insecurities, there’s something wrong.
To put it simply, I am incredible. I am always the same amount of incredible regardless of who I’m standing next to. My worth does not fluctuate based on my surroundings. The way I explained it during the superhero conundrum was fit for a five-year-old, and sometimes that’s the best way to understand something.
“Is Cinderella a beautiful princess?”
“Is Belle a beautiful princess?”
“When they hang out and have princess tea parties together, are they both still beautiful princesses?”
“Hanging out with another beautiful princess doesn’t make you a less beautiful princess?”
“No! That’s silly.”
She’s right. It’s very silly. So, let’s stop all this nonsense. Stop comparing ourselves and others and stop competing because we’ll never win. (And, by the way, I got to be Wonder Woman and have even been asked to be her a few times since.)
I’m all about practical life applications, so let’s try this out. I’ll be Chelsea. Beyoncé will be Beyoncé, and you will be you. Does that sound doable? I certainly think so. If you find yourself comparing/competing, do a quick heart check: “Am I doing this because I want to be a better me, or because I want to be better than him/her?”
You might be surprised by your answer.
Chelsea Street is a California-grown Southern belle whose days consist of sassy comments, DIY projects, Disney songs, profound thoughts, SNL references, and the never-ending search for the perfect red lipstick. You can catch her cracking up at her own jokes and wearing cute outfits over at www.sassyst.wordpress.com.