A girl I know was going out for a run around her college campus and right as she was headed out the door, her roommate decided to join her. Immediately she felt reluctant because she never ran with other people; she was more of a “slow and steady wins the race” kind of runner while her roommate played collegiate sports and maintained an intense workout regimen. As they begin running, it becomes apparent that her roommate is a faster runner. At first, she’s a few steps ahead and in no time she’s way ahead of her. In the meantime, the girl is running as fast as she can to keep up, but knows she won’t be able to maintain this pace much longer. She makes an excuse to tie her shoe and tells her roommate to go on ahead. The girl continues on, grateful for the solitude, albeit brief, as she joins her roommate again at a red light. The light turns green and they’re at it again, running alongside each other as the girl tries to keep up. It’s not long before the distance between them grows and in a sigh of frustration, she tells her roommate to just go on ahead and they’ll meet at home. Relief floods over her as she continues running, though feeling more tired than usual from trying to maintain her roommate’s pace. Feelings of inadequacy start to creep in her mind as she watches her roommate disappear around the corner ahead. Almost immediately afterward, her foot gets caught on uneven sidewalk and she goes flying, falling flat on her face. Her leg is cut open, there’s blood everywhere, and she’s overwhelmed with frustration. Thoughts like “Why can’t I just be as fit as her? Why didn’t I play collegiate sports? What’s wrong with me?” are racing through her mind, and suddenly she feels a strong presence from the Holy Spirit come over her. In the midst of her self-degradation, she feels God say,
Stop trying to be someone else. I love YOU, not your version of someone else. I created you and I love you for who you are, nothing more and nothing less.
Whether you’re religious or not, you can definitely relate to what this girl was feeling when she was trying to stay in pace with her roommate. Frustrated. Inadequate. Self-deprecating. Envious. And you’ve hopefully all heard that voice inside your head asking “Why? What is this all for?” This all stems from constantly looking at what other women have and who they are that we fall into this trap of comparison.
Women are always running after something, but for what? We’re always competing against someone, but against who? Our friends? Celebrities? Ourselves? They did make movies like Clueless and Mean Girls for a reason. It’s a harsh reality. Women are in constant competition with one another. They dress to impress not the men (because really, guys can care less about designer jeans and handbags), but other women. Just think back to middle school when you learned how to apply eyeliner correctly or figured out how to use a curling iron. That was the start of the race. Then came high school when you were thrown into a much larger competition where you discovered what designer labels were or when you did everything you could to get in with the popular clique. High school is one big fashion show where every girl is the star.
Dr. Seuss’ profound question rings true and it’s something I wish I learned early on. Looking back to my high school days, I can’t honestly tell you if I knew exactly how hard I tried to make it in with the right crowd. I can say no and be a complete hypocrite and naïve person, or I can say yes and be completely desperate and superficial. I’m too partial to admit a side so I’ll just claim both. I was naïve, desperate and superficial. But then again, I was only a 14-year-old freshman simply trying to make friends in a new school and fit in. All I know is that I strived to wear the clothes, the make-up and the shoes. I curled my naturally straight hair and I hung out where the “popular” kids did.[sc:shn-ad2]
This is a vicious struggle that all girls go through and it doesn’t end with a high school diploma. Though I would consider this a necessary stage in adolescence where we learn our lessons and rise above the constant need to want what others have, this is something that continues on through adulthood among friends and in the work environment. How can she afford those nice clothes and I can’t? Why does she have a perfect boyfriend, yet I’ve been single for years? How can she eat whatever she wants and look so great when I’ve struggled with my weight for my whole life?
Stop! Stop those negative thoughts NOW! Quit feeling so jealous. Stop being a sell-out, a poser, a fake, all at the expense of your independence, dignity and self-respect. The media surely doesn’t make it any easier either with all the magazines saying you have to dress a certain way or lose x amount of weight and celebrities constantly making new trends that fans feel called to imitate. I’m not saying that it’s not okay to follow trends or dye your hair or buy designer clothes, just do it for the right reasons, which is because YOU want to and it makes YOU feel good and not because you’re trying to be like someone else or have what they have.[sc:shn-ad3]
We need to stop looking at how other women are living their lives and what they have and who they’re dating. Instead, we should focus on ourselves as individual women. Look to these other women as motivation and inspiration to do more for yourself rather than simply envy them. Focus on where God is leading you because He created you with unique talents for a unique purpose. Change to be a better version of yourself, not a version of someone else. If you are happy, healthy, honest and humble, then you are perfect.
Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.