It’s so hard in this day and age of social media to keep your blinders on… to focus on walking your journey and not feeling jealous or envious of someone else’s experience in life.
Ask me how I know.
I used to look at my friends (even before Facebook and other social media platforms were born) and I used to envy how they lived near their families, celebrated holidays and birthdays together, had help when their babies were born, had girl trips with their moms and had their dads to lean on when they needed fatherly advice. But that was not the route I chose.
I used to look at my neighbors after my kids were handed one medical diagnosis after another… and I thought other families all seemed so peaceful and why was I being handed so much on my plate when other families seemed to be enjoying life with no worries. Even this was before the days of social media. But later I realized some of those families were slowly falling apart… or dealing with their own sadness… or even struggling through silent tragedies.
Even now in the time of so much social media, I still sometimes look at other families I know and get stuck in the trap of envying them that they have their spouse home for holidays… or for a weekend BBQ… or have family get-togethers for a Sunday evening dinner or an Easter Brunch. But that is not our family reality because of decisions we have made to give our 3 kids stability in post military life.
It’s so hard… isn’t it? I’m much too sentimental for my own good. But it’s who I am. It drives my husband crazy that I get sad when he can’t be here for my birthday… or for Thanksgiving… or for the anniversary of our first date. But it’s also the trait he may just love the most about me too.
I am who I am. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I cry. I laugh. I mourn. I am just like my father who cried the day his hero John Wayne died. I can’t separate emotion from most things because that is how I experience the world… that is how I live… that is how I measure life and relationships and love.
Because I feel so deeply, I also get caught up in the trap of looking at someone else’s situation and wondering why not me? But you know, I have found that sometimes the person or people you may compare yourself too may just possibly be struggling. Maybe they are hurting on the inside. Maybe they feel broken. Maybe they are grieving. Maybe their world is falling apart. Maybe what you see isn’t the whole picture… maybe it isn’t even close.
I work very hard to move out of this “funk” when I find myself getting stuck in it. It’s a process for me… it isn’t always easy. It takes work and it takes mindset. I remind myself that I have made choices that have taken me down a different route from a lot of my friends and family. I remind myself that even when I have gone through trials and tribulations of medical diagnoses for my kids, I know moms who have lost their kids to medical battles. I remind myself that my husband may miss my 50th birthday because of his job, but some husbands will never come home because they lost their life fighting for our country.
For me, the gift of surviving adversity and hardships and even setbacks as a mom and as a wife has shown me that I am a survivor. Perspective is EVERYTHING. I am a hard worker. I am a fighter. I don’t quit. I don’t give up. I don’t take no for an answer. I am stronger than I know. I am positive. I am supportive. I am loving. I am loyal. I am honest. I look at my strengths. I assess who I am. I refine myself to keep getting better. I know my worth. I trust my gut. All of these things add up to make me who I am. But without perspective and humility, it means nothing.
Perspective helps me understand that the route in life I have chosen is not a typical route. I fell in love with a Navy Pilot and chose to be a Navy wife… and along with that choice came a different lifestyle. But it was MY choice. I used to hear people say “well you knew what you were getting in to.” That is like telling a woman what it feels like to give birth – before she’s ever had a child. Some things defy explanation or definition. Some things just have to be experienced firsthand… and everyone’s experience (be it as a military spouse or as mother giving birth) are completely unique.
So how do I deal with comparisons? I honestly have an image that pops into my brain. It’s the image of a work horse like a Clydesdale or other magnificent creature. Have you ever seen them up close? They are huge! They are gorgeous! And they have blinders on their eyes so they can concentrate on the work at hand without having unnecessary distractions. This is what I do! I picture imaginary blinders on the sides of my eyes. I try to focus my attention straight ahead! What needs to be done today? Who needs me today? What do I need to do for me today? What are the 3 most important things I need to accomplish today?
Having perspective is a wonderful gift in my life to remember that my journey is unique… that I am unique… that our family is unique. Trying to apply someone else’s journey to my life and my situation isn’t helpful because it isn’t the journey meant for me. And you, my dear… you are moving through your own amazing journey that is meant just for you. Every setback is a season. Every hardship is a medal. Everything you overcome makes you stronger. Be amazing and accept your journey and your season in life as something that is unique to you. Be strong. Keep your blinders on. Keep moving. Don’t get stuck. Don’t compare. You’ve got this!