I just wrote the first official words of my thesis.
Little big step!
I’d procrastinated aplenty—looking at others’ theses, mapping out a structure, looking at more others, saving each chapter outline individually, looking at other others.
And I had to stop myself and say (in a gentle and kind way, of course)—
You are such a hypocrite!
I write a proposal that’s all about writing it my own way.
I wax poetic with my nephews about not comparing themselves to anyone else.
And, then I turn around and start my thesis based on other people’s work and worrying about doing it “right.”
So, I quickly shut down all the tabs and said (gently, kindly)—
Find your own way.
Or, in the words of Adriene Mishler (amazing online yoga instructor)—
Find what feels good.
How do we get into this habit of comparing ourselves to others? As we’ve talked about before, no two people will ever walk in the same footsteps, so why do we always fall back on copying, comparing, measuring ourselves on others’ appearances, experiences, and achievements?
Maybe, the better question is this—
How do we get ourselves out of the habit of comparisons?
Right now, I have a cold.
Compared to cancer or acute morning sickness or traumatic brain injury, it’s nothing.
It’s a cold.
But, also right now, my head feels like it’s about to explode, I can’t breathe properly, my nose is raw, and my teeth are pounding.
It doesn’t feel like nothing.
I don’t really know where I’m going with this, but I think it has to do with the difference between comparison and perspective?
Comparison leaves us lacking—
I’m not … enough. Good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough, creative enough, tall enough, tough enough, enough enough.
When I compare my cold to more extreme illnesses, I’m not really sick. I shouldn’t be feeling like this. It’s nothing.
When I compare my knitting to my mum’s, I’m nowhere near as quick or as accurate or as clever as she is. No good.
When I compare my life to, say, Oprah’s? I don’t meet lots of amazing spiritual leaders or own lots of dogs or help lots of people. Lacking.
Perspective, on the other hand? Perspective gives us grounding.
It causes us to think, feel, and act differently.
It means that while, yes, I have a cold and I’m feeling a bit rubbish—it’s manageable. And finite. And thank goodness I know the cause of the teeth pounding and don’t have to go to the dentist.
It means that my mum has been knitting for a helluva lot longer than I have and I’m lucky to have such an incredible teacher. And I have the best fixer on hand when I bugger up.
It means that we’re all on our own paths and the world already has an Oprah, so I just need to keep doing me and you just keep doing you. The dogs will come. And helping people. In our own way.
It means that my thesis is mine and I don’t need rules or examples or boxes to fit into—I can do it as weirdly and wonderfully as I like. They may give me a poor grade for not producing their definition of a “thesis,” but I don’t want to write their definition of a thesis—that’s 30,000 words of bollocks that I’d never want anyone to read!
I think the take home is to trust that our way is our right way and to replace habitual, insecure comparisons with a holistic perspective—to illuminate what we are or can be, not what we aren’t or are never meant to be.