Earlier this year I saw P!nk in concert. To say it was magical would be an understatement on par with saying Robin Thicke is a wee bit pervy. I’d always liked her music and admired her moxie but seeing her in the flesh – and girlfriend doesn’t hide much of it! – made me love her in a whole new way. Feel free to judge me for being a 13-year-old fangirl in a grown woman’s body (which, honestly, you should already know from my avowed love of all the Step Up movies) but I loved how confident and real she was. I loved how she interacted with her fans making it feel new even though it was probably the zillionth time she’d done that show. I loved how she sang her own music and her voice sounded even more amazing in real life than it does on her produced albums. But mostly I loved how confident she was in not only her body but in herself. I think it’s safe to say that she is not totally what people consider conventionally beautiful for a woman. She has short spiky hair, schizophrenic style and lots and lots of muscles. In fact, she’s often been criticized for having “man abs” because of how cut she is. But she’s always been not only cool with her strong self but utterly unapologetic about it, gushing about her hardcore workouts and love of the sweat.
Which is why I was so surprised to read this, in an interview with Women’s Health: “I’d love to be 10 pounds thinner, but it’s not in the cards for me.”
It threw me because to me she is the epitome of gorgeous and if she thought she’d look better 10 pounds thinner then what did that mean for me?! (Because everything is about me, duh.) Not only did I suddenly feel like a flaccid cow but I wondered if there was any chance for me to ever give up totally caring about weight crap. I mean if Pink can’t even do it then what chance does a girl like me have?
Then she followed it up by adding, “And I’m okay with that.” Which… I dunno. I’m glad she’s okay with it. I wish she were happy about it. I wish we were all happy about ourselves. But then she added this tidbit which totally restored my faith in her: “I’m afraid of spiders. I am afraid of sharks. I’m afraid of the world running out of cheesecake, especially Cheesecake Factory. And then I would also have to be afraid of the world running out of key limes because key lime cheesecake is the best kind of cheesecake there is.” Sing it, sister! Key lime anything is THE BEST. And spiders are THE WORST. And I love that she eats Cheesecake Factory like the rest of us.
It occurred to me that in reading about someone I loved I’d made myself less than. And as I thought about it more I realized that by comparing my weaknesses to others’ strengths I do that a lot. Like a lot a lot.
“Oh yeah, I gave up sweets 3 months ago and I’ve never felt better! It’s pretty easy if you just put your mind to it. I just told myself I was done and once I make a decision I stick with it. Now cookie dough doesn’t even look appealing to me anymore.” I considered replying to my svelte friend that it doesn’t work that way for me, that telling myself I’m never eating something again throws my mind into rebellion mode faster than you can say “Ben & Jerry’s actually has a flavor named Schweddy Balls?!” – but I was too busy thinking about how awesome cookie dough sounded and then starting a shame spiral because she could go her whole life without ever having it again and I wanted it just from hearing someone say the word. In speaking with a friend I love, I made myself less than.
“I knew it was crazy signing up for this half marathon without training first but I figured I could pull it off and I finished under 2 hours!!” As I read my blog-friend’s amazing race report, I massaged my shins that were so sore I had to walk up stairs backwards so I didn’t limp because I’d run 2 miles that morning without warming up. “How can she run 13 miles without even training and beat my best time when I can’t even do an easy run without prepping for days?” I moaned. In reading a blog I love, I made myself less than.
“Oh the wainscoting was just a little finishing touch I threw on at the last minute to really give this room that special ‘je ne se quois’, you know?” As I admired my friend’s perfectly appointed living room with just the right amount of flair and homeyness balanced with little pops of color exactly how all the style magazines say you should but without looking like it was ripped from a magazine, I stewed over the fact that I have wanted for years to do something similar in my home and not only did she do it in two days but hers looked a million times better than anything I could have done and she described it in French! The only other language I speak when it comes to home improvement is %&#*-ese. In visiting a home I love, I made myself less than.
For being such a small word less is such an immense feeling.
It reminded me of when I got to interview Tony Horton a couple of years ago for Shape. Me being the P90X lover I am, the first question I asked him was, “What is up with the corn-cob pull-ups?!? Can anyone actually do those?” To this day I still remember his answer: “It’s supposed to be hard. It’s a challenge. P90X and P90X 2 are designed to force you to work on your weaknesses. If it’s easy then it’s not working.” True for fitness, yes, but true for life also. Tony Horton gave me an Oprah moment. A-ha XTREME!
As illustrated above, I have a terrible habit of comparing my weaknesses to everyone else’s strengths. (Weirdly it never works the other way – apparently I’m much kinder to other people than I am to myself.) The obvious problem is that I make myself feel bad. But the real problem is that when I waste time doing this I can’t enjoy the beauty of the incredible things that all of you do and do so well. The real problem is that when I’m so busy being jealous of you that I can’t learn from you. The real problem is that when I’m focusing on your strengths, I’m not working on my own weaknesses. And then I cry and wonder why I never get better at parenting or race running or, heaven help me, wainscoting. I miss out on so much of life when I make myself less than. And it is something I do to myself.
So how do I change the equation from me<you to me+you=something amazing? I think it starts with being consciously grateful for what I have – both materially and spiritually. I think it starts with looking for the good in others, all others. I think it starts with not bad-mouthing others because we’re both on the same side of the equation and if I take you down, then we all go down. And down is only fun at amusement parks. But I don’t know where this ends. Help me?
Do you compare your weaknesses to others’ strengths? How do you combat this mentality? What is your favorite kind of cheesecake?? (I’ve spent the past two hours trying to come up with something to top Key Lime for me but I can’t. That tart-tangy-sweet combo is even worth risking my embarrassingly loud lactose intolerance for!!)