Tuesday, 18 March 2014
Don't Compare Yourself To Other People. Just Don't.
I spend a lot of time online. At this point I am very sedentary and sometimes am even too tired to paint. I read a lot of books and magazines but I also read a lot online. As with the books and magazines I am interested in a wide range of things from the frivolous to the deep. Sometimes I just enjoy images. The internet is great for that too. I read a lot of blogs. And that's where I can sometimes fall into a trap, the trap of comparing myself.
It's easy to be impressed by people who clearly have a life outside of home. Or the people who are mostly at home but doing amazing things there. Some people appear to be living quite fabulous lives in exciting cities. They get out and see stuff, people, places, shops, museums, markets, parks, places I cannot go. Some people live in beautiful rural areas and their focus is on growing their own food and preserving it, sewing or knitting or restoring furniture while raising children and chickens. Some people have exotic wardrobes, shoe collections, hats or hairstyles. They travel to exciting places. They go out and greet the world in their colourful plumage. They take on the day in a way I never can.
Some people envy me. Perhaps they would not if they knew the truth, you should never envy someone who lives with a debilitating chronic illness, but we are not seeing people clearly when we look through green lenses. When I was teaching part time, I would be gathering up my things and going home at the lunch break and colleagues would say to me, 'Oh you are so lucky. I wish I could work part time.' I just smiled and said, 'Yes it's great'. They didn't know I was going home to go to bed. They seemed to think I was going off skiing. Someone once said to me, 'Oh you are one of those lifestyle people.' What does that even mean? Apparently what he meant was I was choosing lifestyle over work. My lifestyle is not what these people imagined it to be, but then if that is true, so it could potentially be true of the way I view others.
When I am grocery shopping and the cashier says to me, 'Do you have today off?' I say, 'Yes I do' out loud and in my head I add, 'I have every day off.' She doesn't know that the grocery shopping is the biggest thing I will likely do that week, that mostly I will sleep. I will read, spend some time online, write a lot more blog posts than anyone wants to read, get myself some food and if I have more energy I will paint. She thinks she envies me, just like my colleagues who imagined I worked part time because I had plenty of money and wanted spare time for skiing. Because we see people and we think we know what they are about, what they have, what they do and if they are happy. And we imagine it is better than what we have.
The flip side of those brief moments when I envy someone else her life, is that I sometimes think to myself, wow my life is so fabulous I feel a bit guilty. I can sleep whenever I want for as long as I want. If I am awake all night with insomnia it doesn't matter. I can just sleep later; there is nowhere I have to be. I can eat whenever I want. I can eat in bed. I can read and drink tea all day. I have plenty of time to write and paint. I'm single, so although I don't have a lot of money I can pretty much spend it however I like. I found the best apartment in the whole town last year and bought it. I am so happy here I even love the parts of it I hate. Like that funky kitchen floor. My wonderful son lives a couple of blocks away and my very dear parents one block more. I have a life you could envy.
But don't compare yourself. Just don't.
Today's art comes at the price of not getting my dishes cleaned up. I often have to make the choice between cooking and dishes or art. I really need to teach Sophie to wash up. The mixed media poppies are kind of a work in progress which I had set aside and forgotten. I made art journal pages, colourful and chaotic, inspired by spring flowers and rainy days. And I started work on a water colour sea horse painting for my young nephew. His mum wants sea life pictures to decorate his bathroom.