Another great question from Katy B. about something I've wanted to talk about for a while. I have struggled with it since at least the fourth grade, and some days, it's worse than others:
I was wondering if you struggle with comparisons. I catch myself trying to figure out if I am bigger or the woman who sits down across from me is. I tell myself it's because I don't have a sense of what size I really am and a comparison would help me figure it out, but I think it's really because if I can find someone I am a little smaller than, then I will feel better about myself, and recognizing this makes me feel horrible. I also find myself tracking other people's progress with weight loss and I get depressed when someone ‘beats' me or passes me. I am wondering if this is just me or if these are common things… and if so how you deal with them?
I think that many women (and even some men), big or small, struggle with comparisons. Whether it's what handbag someone is carrying, what size someone is, what their hair looks like… there are always things that people compare in their minds against other people. Knowing I was “fat” when I was even a child in elementary school, my fat-o-meter kicked in at an early age.
There was a girl, Jane* (name totally changed to protect the innocent), who was in most of my classes in elementary school. We even rode the same school bus, but we never talked. I always looked at her and thought that surely she was fatter than I. Her clothes never fit quite right, her hair was cut really short, and she didn't have many friends. I always was thankful for Jane because I felt that having her around took the spotlight off me and my size. Am I rotten for thinking this? Perhaps, but it's the truth.
Sometimes, my fat-o-meter is out of control. I've found if I'm in new situations where I'm even more self-conscious than usual, it is off-the-charts bad. Surrounded by strangers? My eyes are like eagles eyes, scanning the room at a rapid pace for someone, anyone, who might be my size. “Please don't let me be the biggest person here” the voice in my head screams.
Unfortunately, when I was 455 pounds, it was damn near impossible to find anyone my size. Heck, many times it was hard finding someone half my size! For this and a multitude of other reasons, my self-confidence was at its lowest. I was the huge fat lady that people would expect to be locked in their rooms eating Little Debbie snacks all day.
I noticed during the cruise that my fat-o-meter didn't go off as much as I thought it would. I did notice a girl at the pool wearing my same bathing suit but in black (mine was blue). I did briefly think that I felt good that someone else similar to my size was bearing all, and that she actually looked cute! It put a little pep in my step that if she was confident, I was justified even more in being confident.I didn't feel that I needed to apologize for being the size that I was.
To answer the other portion of the question: Yes, I compare my weight loss journey to others. And just as in social situations, the comparisons vary by how much self confidence I have at the time.Last month, I wrote this post about being jealous of someone who had gotten gastric bypass surgery and was shrinking like crazy. When I told her I wrote the post, however, she flipped it around for me:
The funny thing about that is that I am jealous of your dedication to your training, and your physical ability. You're doing things that I don't think I am capable of doing. I think it's part of human nature that we always think that someone else has it better than we do.
She is so.friggin.right. The more I go through this journey, the more I see that these comparisons have got to stop.
- Be appreciative of where I am in my journey.
- Be aware of the negative effect that comparisons are having on my self-esteem.
- Not be afraid to congratulate myself on a job well done.
- Acknowledge that what I'm doing is hard, and others might do it faster, but this is MY journey and I have to own it.
I've posted this quote before, but will post it again. It's a great reminder:
‘Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.’ ~Lao Tzu
I hope that this helps, Katy. As humans, we all have the tendency to compare ourselves and judge against others. Big or small, everyone has done it before. The trick (and it's not an easy one) is to be conscious of why we're doing the comparsons, so we can hopefully stop them before they lead to negative self-talk.
Would love to hear others opinions and experiences on this. Please share in the comments below.