Who is your point of reference?
Who do you compare yourself with? Come on…… I know you do, we all do! Be it at work or in our personal lives, we can’t help but compare ourselves to other people.
Ok, here’s another question for you. How many times have you compared yourself to a peer at work when they got promoted and you didn’t? I bet you went home and complained to a loved one “What is it they’ve got that I haven’t?” You most likely then started analysing yourself and tried to determine what it is you need to do differently to get promoted. Do you have to be more like them? Can you not be yourself?
We are rarely satisfied with what we have, or, what we have become. Women that work for example compare themselves to women that stay at home. Those that stay at home sometimes feel ‘inferior’ to women that work. Each feels guilty of their choices for different reasons. But here’s where it turns silly. We continue to analyse and beat ourselves up – self-doubt kicks in, self- confidence diminishes, our interior gremlin gets louder and we may try to behave as we think others expect we should. I don’t know about you, but it is exhausting. We end up hiding from ourselves, masking our feelings and believing we want what someone else has. This behaviour has to STOP!
I like to keep fit and try to exercise at least twice a week, fit body, fit mind and all that. I also have a big birthday coming up this year – there I have admitted it, it’s out there for everyone to know that I, Emma Roffey am turning….50. But you know something? I am determined to still be fit at 50! I’m fortunate enough to have a personal trainer so should realise this goal. I don’t frequent gyms, never have, I find them stressful and impersonal, so my point of reference as to how fit or strong I am is my personal trainer (she is a lady). Actually I probably should add that she is more than 10 years younger than me too – but I try desperately to forget that! She can lift more weights, do more press ups, chin ups, is more flexible…… quite frankly you name it and she is better at it than me and that is absolutely ok and to be expected.
Last weekend however I had an “aha” moment and a healthy reality check. I went away with six friends for a girlie weekend and on the first morning one of my friends invited us all to do some yoga with her. “Why not” I thought, I do a bit of yoga with my trainer now and again so I know what to do. During our yoga session I was surprised when my friends couldn’t do a particular exercise, reach a certain point in the yoga move or do a certain position when I could. It really made me stop and think about who I’d been comparing myself to all this time, who my reference point was and unbeknown to me how I actually felt about myself. I came away feeling proud of my abilities, took stock of what I can do and have achieved fitness wise.
I am strong, fit and flexible. Yes, I can improve obviously but actually I’m not that bad in comparison to my peers of a similar age or even younger I might add! For a long time, I had been underestimating my own strength, flexibility, and ability. I am not writing this for the reason of boasting, but simply for the lesson the experience taught me.
This enlightening experience led me to think about my colleagues and friends further. I constantly hear women compare themselves with their often louder and more forthright male colleagues, early in career with far more experienced colleagues , nationalities against nationalities, home based workers compared with those based at HQ, quota carrying to non- quota carrying teams. Don’t get me wrong, healthy paranoia, as I like to call it is to be expected and is acceptable but don’t let it become all- consuming. I reflected on the people I admire in and outside of work and they are the ones that are quite simply content. They are happy with who they are – be it their style, personality, how much (or little) they have in life, they have simply realised long before me that the only reference point they need in life is their self.
So the next time you’re looking enviously at someone’s figure and wishing you could wear that smaller outfit, or wondering why you didn’t get that promotion, take a moment to remember that none of it matters. All that matters is that you are happy and content with yourself, what you have and who you have become. Don’t waste time and energy comparing yourself to others. You are unique, incomparable and quite simply, you are your own reference point.