Ignorance is bliss? OK, I’ll give the more appropriate title at the bottom.
My Grandma made quilts, many, many, many quilts. She was extremely prolific. Most of the quilts that I saw and I remember were the same diagonal pattern and the same 1.5 inch square size. The variety came in the form of the color of the quilt.
When I was in my 20s, I decided to join a local quilting guild because I wanted to be around lovely quilts. I wanted to hang out with women/people who made quilts. I think quilts are very much a “bricolage” thing where you make something (wonderful) out of the bits you have. I didn’t know how quilt meetings went but I was really hoping they had some sort of show and tell where you could bring in works in progress or quilt tops my grandma had made that I was hoping to finish and turn into a completed quilt.
I went to a handful of meetings. Indeed they did have show and tell. The quilts that were on display were exquisite. The hues and tones were beautifully matched. Every point of every block matched perfectly with its neighbor. Many of the quilts showcased the command the maker had over fabric and pattern.
I didn’t know I would never go back after that and I didn’t know I’d be writing about it 30 years later. That experience made me feel “less than.” I had always thought that my Grandma’s quilts were beautiful. They were quirky and enveloping. I wanted the show and tell to be for everyone, but it felt like it was only for the masters. To be fair, I never did show any of her quilts there, so I don’t know what the outcome would have been. I was already defeated by comparing those quirky quilts to those masterpieces.
Fast forward to my early 40s. I decided I should complete a marathon. Notice I did not say run a marathon nor win a marathon, just complete a marathon. I purchased a book called “The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer,” by David A. Whitsett, Forrest A. Dolgener, & Yanjala Mabon Kole. The book addressed both the training aspects and the mental aspects. I highly recommend the book for just simply figuring stuff out in your life. If you look at life as a marathon, you get a lot out of the book. Did I mention I am a non-athlete? Well, I trained by myself, nobody to compare myself to, just following the book. The book went into the part where you will say, I don’t feel like running, it’s too hot, too cold, too hard, etc and the answer is – yeah, so?
When I told people I was going to complete a marathon, most people fell into 2 camps – Why would you do that? I could never do that. You must be crazy. Or Are you going to win? How fast do you run? How many marathons have you run?
The only “goal” I had for myself was that I really wanted to complete it within the 6 hour-15 minute timeframe that was considered the ending time for the marathon. The only real “rule” I had was that I would finish it unless I endured an injury that would prohibit that. I did not compare myself with anyone. I did not set up expectations, I just knew I would try my very best. Jumping to the end, I could see the finish line in the distance. Almost there! I looked at my watch and I had 10 minutes before they closed the race. I could certainly get there in 10 minutes. Suddenly my daughter jumped out of the crowd (tearing up writing this) and yells – Run Mom!! And she jogs/shlogs along side of me. I gasped, I’m trying, I got 10 minutes… to which she says, no, you don’t, you have 2 minutes. Look at the timer. So out of my guts and out of my heart a small burst of energy arose. I DID finish the marathon before ending time. My time was 6:13:01. I was extremely happy and overcome with emotion. I DID use up all the runway, as they say.
I was proud of myself. I was happy I did it. I was elated that I pushed through all those days where I thought the whole thing was stupid. I was high on achievement. You know why? Because I did not compare myself to anyone else. I did not try to beat someone else. I worked my own program and strove to be the best ME I could be.
New Title – Not comparing yourself to others is awesome, kind, and liberating
• Key concept – if you had absolutely no one to compare yourself, your deeds, your art, your victories to, would you still feel fat, ugly, off key, second rate, or just a hack?
• Comparing ourselves to others robs us of joy, self-love, authenticity, and even generosity
I still fall into the comparison trap, more than I care to admit. However, when those moments arise, I just tell myself – you completed a marathon, girl! You get out there and try new things. You can laugh at yourself. You can be proud of yourself. It’s a good thing. And some day, on my deathbed, I hope I can say I had a lot of fun, I tried a lot of things, I loved deeply…. And I don’t regret much!
One last story. I went to dinner with a friend. We really enjoyed the meal. I said something like – I have to go home and see if I can duplicate this. To which she replied – See, that’s the difference between you and me. We both eat something delicious and you want to try to duplicate it and I just want to come back to the restaurant again! I don’t know if she meant it as a compliment, but I felt really good inside after she said that.
Check out my other related posts here.