The grass is always greener…

I have always had this problem where I compare myself to others. I think to some degree many people do this, but I do it excessively and have for many, many years. At first it was my family. For some reason, I had it in my head that everyone else had a perfect, TV family (I was obsessed with being adopted by the Cosby family when I was little, nevermind that they are fictional and I am white- lol). While my family was completely dysfunctional, I imagined my friends having normal dinners and holidays. Even now when my friend tells me about going to a museum with just her father, my first thought is “why??”- that sounds like a nightmare to me! The obvious problem with comparisons like these is that I always came up short. I’m not saying I have an inferiority complex…I am pretty happy with who I am, but I just can’t help myself from doing these comparisons constantly.

After years of comparing my family to others, I moved on to comparing how I looked to others. I have a healthy attraction to men, but I often find myself “checking out” other women when I am in public. Not in a sexual way, but to compare myself to them. This one is skinnier, this one has gorgeous hair, this one can wear heels without looking ridiculous…again I think most people do this on occasion, but I also felt like, “if I just looked like her, I wouldn’t have (insert whatever problem I was having at the time). Again, I am very pretty…I’m no Giselle, but I do just fine with the guys. It just seemed like I always was wishing I was someone else, which I realize now is a bit of the “grass is always greener on the other side” complex.

The worst of it came when I was unhappiest in my marriage. I watched other couples like a hawk. This husband placed his hand on his wife’s back protectively- why didn’t my husband do that? This husband complimented his wife in front of a whole crowd- why didn’t mine do that? It became very unhealthy because not only did I constantly highlight what was wrong with my marriage, but I had a very unrealistic view of my friend’s marriages. I am so happy that my friends have good marriages, but I realize now that no marriage or relationship is perfect.

I think examining other people’s lives and envisioning how “easy” they have it is a form of escapism. It detracts me from having to look deeply at my own problems and simplifies life in an unrealistic way. If I was skinnier, my problems would obviously not just disappear, I do know that. I also think a little part of me feels like I don’t deserve to be happy the way other people *appear* to be (1. I know that is a classic COA belief and 2. I say *appear* because I have learned that not everyone’s life is what it seems to be.) Surprisingly, when I started telling co-workers about MY divorce and MY family, people were shocked. They had always looked at me as being independent, happy, in love…I did a good job of *appearing* to be what I wanted the world to see.

I try to compare myself to other people less now, but honestly it is something that I just automatically do. I want to believe that my friends have perfect marriages because then that means they are possible. I want to believe that a size 6 woman has no problems because if I am ever that thin, I want to be that carefree. I want to believe that there are families that are like the Brady Bunch, rather than The Simpsons, because then I can hope to one day be a part of one. I know I need to be happy with who I am and I do have SO much to be thankful for, so I am going to try to focus on that more. It is the message I teach my students and I guess I need to practice what I preach!!

12 comments on “The grass is always greener…

  1. yourothermotherhere says:

    This post reminds me of a woman I used to know. She would continually assess people, comparing herself to them internally while making snide remarks about them externally. I met her mother who was the same way. I finally just stayed away from her because being around her wasn’t fun or enriching at all.

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  2. I can completely understand why you would not want to be around people like that. Just in case you thought that about me, I never make snide remarks about anyone else that I am comparing myself to- aloud or even just in my own thoughts. I am not jealous or catty in that way. If anything, I am always complimenting other people in my head (and out loud) because they have a quality I wish I had.

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    • Anya says:

      I didn’t think you were being snide just to ease your worries 🙂 Thanks for writing this. I deal with this issue of comparing myself to others but not as much as I used to. It decreases my happiness because I can’t appreciate what I already have. Gratitude is a wonderful practice to do when I’m becoming bogged down in thoughts of how much greener the grass is somewhere else. Like you, I’ve never made snide remarks about people to others either. If I was comparing myself I usually had a feeling of envy but didn’t try to cut them down to size by commenting to anyone about them. There are lots of women who will do that but I think if you’re self aware it’s harder to be catty because you know how it feels to be criticized (we do it in our heads all the time!).

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      • Thank you for your response 🙂

        I am definitely my own worst critic! You are definitely right in that the best solution to this is whenever I find myself comparing myself to another person, just remember something I am lucky to have or grateful for.

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        • Anya says:

          Yes, I’ve found gratitude to put my concerns in to perspective. I definitely feel less inclined to complain in my mind about something I don’t have if I can remind myself of all the things I do have 🙂

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  3. Great post! I think we all do comparing to a certain extent. Especially if we are insecure about something. I used to constantly compare my marriage to my friend’s marriages. I was not happy or secure and I wanted more. Now that I am remarried, I am happy now and never compare our marriage to others. I’m not looking for anything else, I am secure. I do find myself comparing myself to people that are more worldly, less materialistic, living in the present. These are all things that I would like to be so I admire them in other people.
    If there is an answer, maybe it is to look at the things you are comparing and ask yourself what you may be missing in that aspect of your own life. The family comparison seems obvious. The weight thing probably stems from society pressures. And I think it is very normal to admire beauty in other women. We all do it!

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    • I loved your response! Thank you 🙂

      I am so glad to hear that you feel so differently in your new marriage. How you feel is what I imagine a person is supposed to feel in a good, healthy marriage. I don’t plan to remarry (I am 34 so who knows, but I highly doubt I will), but if I do, I hope I would feel how you do. Even in my current relationship, I feel a lot more secure…like I can really just be myself.

      I think a lot of the things I compare myself to in other people ARE qualities I wish I had that goes beyond the superficial, like looks. For example, I have a huge fear of traveling and flying, so when I hear people talking with excitement about an upcoming trip, I wish I was more like them.

      And that’s pretty funny about admiring beauty- I guess that is true!

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      • I can completely relate. I have trouble sleeping when I am out of town and I have found myself being jealous of those that can just put there head on a pillow in a hotel and pass out. I DO wish I was more like them and that’s okay! I am pretty self confident in most aspects of my life but I can see things that I would like to improve. It doesn’t mean that I think I am this inadequate person. I am aware that I can’t be everything. No one is. But, I can try to improve the things that I can.
        AND as far as feeling like you are more secure and can just be by yourself….I wonder if this is a ACOA thing. I love my husband and he provides for me and our family. BUT, as much as I rely on him I always put myself in a position where I can be by myself if I had to. I guess maybe it is one of those things where I could never rely on anything growing up so now I can’t feel secure unless I know I have control of what is going to happen. And for me that means being able to be on my own if I have to. I try really hard not to let it effect us because I trust him 100 percent but you just never know when you might have to be by yourself and trust me I’m ready 🙂

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  4. hopecouncil says:

    Thanks for a great blog that is well written!

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  5. I’m glad I found your blog…no, wait I’m glad you found me so I could read yours! Thanks! I’m reading “Finding Your Own North Star” by Martha Beck. It has a lot of exercises and good information, and I am always going for the glass more full than empty approach. Who says they can’t teach old dogs new tricks? I can still learn plenty….

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