The Problem with Comparisons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comparisons are something that everyone uses to understand things. In fact, we’re taught to use them from a very young age. Who ever learned to understand the word “big” without also understanding “small” or “little”? Comparisons, on their own, aren’t anything problematic. After all, that’s how humans understand the world. 

The problem comes in when we start assigning value judgments to those comparisons. And in society, that’s something that inevitably happens as we grow up and spend our lives steeped in our culture. A little girl who has only just learned the words “tall” and “short” has no strong associations with either one. They simply are what they are. But give it another fifteen years and you may catch her saying, “I can’t date him. He’s shorter than me!” And likewise, when she turns him down and goes to the dance with a different young man, the poor boy is likely to be left thinking, “He’s taller than me. I never stood a chance.”

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“Look how much shinier that guy’s skin is than mine. Damn him.”

Any time someone we know makes a choice that somehow involves us, it’s awfully hard not to take it personally. Apply that to a romantic context, and the stories we tell ourselves about it just get that much stronger. Why wasn’t I good enough? What’s wrong with me? What does that other person have that I don’t? What did I do wrong? People drive themselves up the wall with these kinds of questions, and maybe even sometimes they manage to pinpoint the reasons they were turned down. But that doesn’t mean it’s a flaw. Society imparts a frustrating lesson that whenever we get rejected, it means there’s something wrong with us. But the truth is that for every person who isn’t into some quality you happen to possess (barring some that most people can generally agree are bad–like being a serial murderer) there probably is someone who is. So who’s to say whether one or the other is better? It may be that the person who did the rejecting doesn’t even think it’s a bad thing; it’s just not for them, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Rejection aside, comparisons come up in all sorts of other ways. When you start dating a new person, it’s awfully hard to stop comparing them to whatever relationships you had before. Or when you find out your ex decided to do something with their new partner that they never wanted to do with you, you can’t help but wonder why. What’s different about that other person, you wonder? What makes them so much better? Oftentimes, the truth in these cases is that one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. There’s nothing inherently better about my new date; I just have a better idea of what’s right for me. There’s nothing inherently better about that person my ex is dating now; my ex just changed their opinion about that activity.

Comparing is something we all do, and it’s awfully hard not to take it personally. We’re trained to make those judgments and turn each comparison we make into a case of right or wrong. But what we’re really doing is taking away our ability to just simply be. When we look for what’s better and what’s worse, in a lot of cases, we end up blocking out what is. I am who I am. You are who you are. And the relationship that exists between the two of us it is whatever it is. 

And that’s beautiful.

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Pursuing a Passion, or Why I Thought this Blog was a Good Idea

Have you ever been told to follow your passions?  Have you heard anyone say follow your passion and the money will follow?  I think that’s generally sound advice–with one noteworthy problem.  How do you come to an understanding about what your passion is?

The truth is many people struggle to even understand what they’re passionate about, and I was no exception.  I have a lot of interests.  I was one of those person who didn’t have a favorite subject in school because I was fascinated by all of them.  I have a lot of hobbies, and I’ve looked into a lot of possible career paths.  I haven’t pursued most of them for various reasons, but that’s a different story. 

When I first started looking at blogging, I thought it would be a great thing for me to do, both as a hobby and a potential money-earner. I learned a lot about what makes a popular blog, how to monetize it, etc. I thought it seemed like a great thing to do. I love writing, I love communicating with people, and I love the idea of being able to make a few bucks by spilling my thoughts out into the world. I’ve started a few different blogs before this one, and they all failed completely within a month or two. I set them up, found themes, poked around the internet for other people in the niche I was going for, got all excited about writing… and then discovered that when it came down to it, I didn’t have anything to say. After a while, I came to a conclusion that maybe blogging just really wasn’t for me. 

And that brings to me to the realization that brought this blog into being. Recently, I’ve been going to a lot of workshops about relationships, sexuality, communication, and how to generally understand and learn to be whatever you are. Through that experience, I realized that ultimately those topics are something I want to do with my life. I spent the next two months being excited about topics covered in those workshops, talking to people whenever possible, and all in all spending a lot of time thinking about it. Even then, it didn’t fully click until a friend of mine pointed out during one of these conversations, sometime around two in the morning, that a passion is that thing that makes you want to stay up all night talking about it. Well, guess what we were doing right then? I realized at that moment that most of the conversations that have kept me engrossed into the wee hours of the morning were along similar lines. What makes people tick? How do they relate to each other? What stories and rules have we as a society constructed without even realizing it? Contrary to my previous experiences of not having anything to say, I realized I had just discovered a topic that I was more excited about than I have been about anything in years, and that for the past several weeks, I’ve been talking about it nearly endlessly.

So that’s why I’m here, and how I discovered I should be. I want to contribute to the discussions our society needs to have. I want to help break down perceptions that aren’t serving us as a collective anymore, and I want to get other people involved in that conversation. I want to do it because I hope it will make the world a better place, and because frankly, it’s just something I love talking about. If I happen to make a few dollars doing it, then so much the better. But even if I don’t, I fully believe that putting my thoughts out there, on its own, will make me happy.

And in the end, that’s what blogging is about, don’t you think?