You be you!
A quick back story:
Years ago I was in a church where there was the discipline of morning prayer. You could do this at home but, if you were a “disciple”, it was better to be seen at the church building praying, anywhere from 6am to 8am.
The discipline of a morning meditation* was really good. The need to be seen? Not so much. In fact, if you missed attending for a couple of days you got the “didn’t see you at morning prayer, brother!” So there was this expectation and, as young me, there was always the pursuit of trying to be better. Again, nothing wrong with that.
One day, I overheard a friend say he got up at 4am to pray. Holy prayer mats, Batman!
Not to be outdone, I also got up at 4am to pray.
This was hard! Partly because of another church custom: fellowship.
This was coffee and food after church to be friendly to others, encourage each other and build relationships. Another plus for church and similar communities.
But going to bed after 10:30 and getting up at 4am was a tough gig. Not to be deterred, I stuck it out for a couple of weeks. But in the end, it was too much. I had to pack the 4am starts in and try and be a normal person.
A month or so after that, feeling like a failure in my prayer habits and clearly a very unspiritual disciple, I mentioned my efforts to my friend.
He laughed: “You obviously didn’t hear the whole conversation!”
“Oh?”, I responded, wondering what I had missed.
“Yeah, what I was saying was I had got up at 4am one time to try and it was hopeless. It was stupid. I get up at 6:30 every day!”
Needless to say we both had a good laugh!
It’s obvious to say we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others but we tend to do this without thinking.
Here are some things to consider next time you’re scrolling Social Media:
- What is their background? What do they bring to the situation you don’t know about?
- What do they not say? This isn’t the sin of intentional omission, it could simply be they have information, skills, knowledge they take for granted they wouldn’t even think to share. For example a blogger with experience in journalism.
- What effort do they put in that we can’t see? We only get to see the end product in many cases. I like it when people on YouTube give us a behind the scenes look at their set up. It brings a whole lot of context.
- Don’t be a literalist. This is taking everything at face value. It becomes a binary argument: this OR that. Rarely is that the case. There are so many shades of grey! (More than 50, I’d say!)
What to do:
- What do you admire about the person? Admiration is great, we need role models. What attributes do you see that you would like for yourself. Write them down.
- Allow space for yourself. You are not, and cannot, be them. You can be you. What does that mean? Write it down.
- What are your goals in this area? Have you defined them clearly? Write them down.
- What tasks need to be addressed for you to fulfil #2? (you be you)
- What actions can you take to start completing those tasks? When can you do the first of those tasks?
Another erroneous comparison I have made.
I follow Yiannis Christodoulou, on Twitter (@Yiannis_83). With 83 being in his profile I assume he is 20 years younger than me. He is quite the accomplished triathlete in his age group. But I assumed he had been doing this since he was a kid. I assumed he’s been brought up swimming, running and riding for decades!
If I compare myself to him, I probably can’t emulate his feats.
Read his tweet of 4 days ago:
He only started swimming 10 years ago! And he started to run! And yet he has achieved so much!
We can be very fickle.
We see people who have made it and we think we can do exactly the same, without knowing their background.
We also see people who are accomplished and we think we can’t emulate them, without knowing their background.
If that isn’t an endorsement for you be you, I don’t on know what is.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
Admire their feats, sure and now start where you are.
*Funny that back then we referred to meditation as new age woo-woo! (Maybe they still do!) 🙄
Also, thanks to Yiannis for allowing me to mention him and his success in his journey!