Comparison Kills

A few days ago I attend several events in the same day. They were all with mostly people I knew and interacted with on a regular basis.
I remember at one point looking at some of them and wondering how they seem to socialize so effortlessly. At the risk of sounding juvenile they just seem cool.

I just feel awkward.
I felt so awkward that I went to the store and bought a completely new outfit for these laid back and totally chill events so I would feel less awkward.
But then people complimented what I wore and I spazzed out because I didn't want them to think I just "threw something on" and floated through the day effortlessly so I babbled about how I bought the outfit less than an hour ago because I felt so awkward.

I got some weird looks and some nervous laughter but most of the time I got, "I've totally been there".

I mean, when it's all typed out in black and white it makes sense to know that everyone else besides me does not in fact have it all together all the time. It sounds very ridiculous to think that I'm the only one that struggles, that I'm the only one that feels anxious when hanging around people I consider my friends for fear we won't have anything to talk about and my contributions to the evening will be less than witty.
All typed out, it just sounds selfish and crazy.

But I forget that it's not just me.
I isolate myself because I think everyone else has it together and has a firm grip on any given situation, especially social ones.
Because I forget that just because my internal dialogue is the only one I hear doesn't mean it's the only one that's happening.

It's far too easy for me to look around at people and see them having it all together for an hour or two and forget that anyone (including me) can keep it together for an hour or two. It tricks my heart into believing that I have to be perfect, that I have to always be funny, always be witty and always be fine.
Just another story in my continuing saga of believing completely untrue things, while knowing they are completely untrue.

What a clever enemy we all have that encourages these comparisons and tricks our heads and hearts into survival mode so we don't dare thrive.
Maggie wondered why everyone else in the world suddenly seemed so sure of themselves, and only she felt that every answer was the wrong answer, every situation a strange one.
-Anna Quindlen 'Onject Lesson'


Pete said...

You are sooooooo not alone in this as you know. Before coming to stay with you for a weekend here and there I would freak out because I would worry we wouldn't have enough to talk about, or I wouldn't be funny enough, etc... I think there are millions more like us out there. I think we should make t-shirts for our club. Lol.

By the way, love this post.

jake said...

So right on!

One of the reasons I love the authenticity in my church, and I hope that you advocate for it in yours.

One of the biggest reasons for people to give church a "shot" is because they feel broken. If they walk into a room full of people who already *seem* to have it together, it is very intimidating and prevents you from feeling you can expose the real you.

I live 98% of my life in my head, so I'm totally with you on this one!