how do I shake this envy
when I see you doing well
sister how do I love myself enough to know
your accomplishments are not my failures
- we are not each other's competition - rupi kaur
I desperately want to matter. Don't you? I believe that at our deepest cores, no matter our personality type, where we sit on the enneagram, whether we're introverted or extroverted, no matter our background, or where we're from, we desperately want to know that our lives have made a contribution to the world around us.
I stumbled across Rupi Kaur's poem above as I was feeling a deep sadness and longing; feeling as though my life was less than inspiring and I wasn't good enough. I'm not a good enough mom, not a good enough wife, not a good enough friend, not a good enough writer. At night when my head touches the pillow, I wonder if I have it in me to do more, better.
Ever since high school, I knew I wanted to be a writer. It's taken me a long time to discover my voice, and what I'm passionate about (I'm still discovering that), but I always knew that writing gave me life. I worked hard for many years to learn about the craft, to fine tune my journalism skills, and to find jobs where I would always be utilizing my love for words. I am defensive of my love of writing, defensive of the career I'm still working on, defensive of my ability to matter. At my core (holla at me 6s) I want to feel supported and approved by others. I want my skills to contribute to my community and I want to belong. When I'm not chosen I feel betrayed. I feel worthless and like I must not be good at what I'm doing. When others are chosen over me I wonder what I did wrong and I become competitive, trying to figure out how to position myself to get the next opportunity. I sound like a super fun friend right? Don't worry, I'm also faithful, cooperative, disciplined, grounded, self-expressive, witty, and affectionate. (According to The Enneagram Coach.) So ya, I have my days, but let's be real, we all do.
Rupi's poem cuts straight to the core saying that another sister's success does not mean my failure. Another sister's opportunity does not mean my lack thereof. "How do I love myself enough to know you're accomplishments are not my failures?" I have been equating other's successes and opportunities to my failure and ultimately, deciding that I must not matter much.
Recently I became a stay-at-home mom/freelance writer and the identity struggle is real. I went from a full-time job where I was interacting with adults and creating daily - to cleaning up food off the floor (a million times a day) and trying to keep my toddler from falling off the couch. I’m learning a new world of freelance writing and home/life balance that many of the peers in my circle aren’t experiencing because they are single or without kids. Their opportunities will naturally look different because their lives look different than mine. And I’m learning that’s ok. There is enough for everyone.
Simply being me looks like remembering that my identity is not in being a writer. My (and your) identity is not in a job, a spouse, kids, or economic status either. Simply being me looks like remembering that a rising tide lifts all boats. Life is more fulfilling when I celebrate others around me and continue to work hard staying true to my voice, my calling, my purpose, and not letting the successes or failures define who I am. Simply being me looks like knowing what I believe in, what I am passionate about, and not letting other people’s beliefs and passions determine what I should believe and be passionate about.
What is stopping you from simply being you? Who are you comparing yourself to? I recently heard one of the most practical steps on a podcast, where a writer shared that she unfollowed anyone on social media that she put on a pedestal or would compare herself to and feel negatively about herself. I know I could afford to do some purging in that area, do you? In what ways do you feel like you compromise who you are to fit in, or belong? Let this be an encouragement to you that you matter. Your life is important, and your gifts and passions will bring an important contribution to the world around you at the moment the fruit is ripe and sweet. Stay true to who you are and that in itself will be rewarded because authenticity is something I believe our world is craving. Get rid of the excess, the comparison, the competition, and simply be you.