I felt stumped today thinking about comparison. Writing daily about the same topic is challenging me and boring me at the same time. Perhaps the real challenge is to keep myself from boredom? Moving on. I was praying today about what to write about, and I heard the answer back, Comparison is bad, write about that.
So here it is, my list of impromptu reasons why I chose to live on comparison island. It’s not pretty, but comparison is an ugly reality.
We are introduced to it as children.
I absorbed a culture of comparison from the people around me. I grew up in a Sri Lankan family living in the Philippines, both cultures – Sri Lankan especially – thrive on comparison. (I’m speaking for the piece of Sri Lankan culture that I encountered, so mostly Tamil Christian culture, and I am not certain this part of Sri Lankan culture could survive if comparison did not exist. It is truly the lens through which people view their live.) I’m grateful for the way my parents did not verbally compare my sisters and I to each other or to other children, but unfortunately the message sent our way from the broader culture around us was a different one.
Children were compared with other people’s children, siblings with siblings, and fairly early on I learned that there were acceptable grades (high), attractive colour (light-to-white skin), pleasing personalities (no excessive talking), and a tight definition of beauty (I’m still not sure what this is, only that I was not one of the beautiful ones).
We like the power comparison gives us.
It is probably not too surprising that even though I lost in the comparison game of my childhood, it did not take me long to make the system “work” for me (in reality it never worked for me, but I certainly thought it did). I remember choosing and discarding friends based on how they compared with each other, losing a few women who would have made for high-quality, long term friendships. But the powerful feeling of being on the winning side of the comparison spectrum was like a drug.
I’ll stop at this point and continue with more tomorrow. In the mean time, I’m sure I’m not the only one with these reasons, maybe you recognize yourself in some of these as well? Or have a few others to add of your own?