Thief of Joy

Often times my mind will drift to things my younger self has said or done. Some memories make me giggle, reminding me that the same silly sense of humor exists, however deep inside. Other times, I cringe. Who knows why we do the things we do?

Words have always come fairly easy for me. I still have my earliest diary (pastel hues with raised pink rhinestones a la the 80s, of course), along with a stack of others that lead up to my now adult life. Every once in a while, I’ll find them and thumb through the pages — giggling and cringing.

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There is an unfinished notebook where I started penning thoughts during high school. It’s small and the cover has deep blues and golds swirling into a celestial pattern; a gift from a German foreign exchange student at the end of my junior year. The bulk of its pages are untouched, though the last entry — only a few pages in — is the most disturbing.

Last week, I sent my mom a text. Probably not the kind of text a mother loves to get from her child, but I needed to share it with someone who knew me and loved me anyway.

“I found an entry written the day before I had my senior pictures taken,” I wrote. “I filled an entire page outlining everything I hated about the way I looked. TWENTY years ago!”

She responded, “Oh. This. Hurts. My. Heart.”

I know. It hurts mine, too.

“The truth is we all ache. We all have growing pains and wonder if we are okay and enough + loved. The thing is – WE ARE. Really. Without the silver shoes and leopard print sheets. We are enough without all the things to make us much more than we are or need to be. We are simple and complex and rare as is.”
—Sabrina Ward Harrison, Spilling Open

Comparison has been in my mind and on my heart lately. Propelled by social media these days, it’s a problem that runs rampant. Though, this is nothing new: Can you imagine the first woman to have the better-looking hair? Or the better recipe for bread? There are even stories from biblical times that bring up the questions we know so well: Why her? Why not ME?

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In my conversations with women, only one so far has mentioned she doesn’t feel the need to compare herself to other people. If I’m honest, I’m not sure I believe her. Maybe it’s been so long she doesn’t see the difference anymore. If she’s like me, maybe it’s been twenty years.

I read Franklin Roosevelt’s quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy” about the same time I doodled these words from Adela Rogers St. Johns in The Gifts of Imperfection.

“Joy seems to me a step beyond happiness. Happiness is a sort of atmosphere you can live in sometimes when you’re lucky. Joy is a light that fills you with hope, faith, and love.”

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I don’t know about anyone else, but if joy is a light and comparison is a thief of that light, then you can bet I’ll be working overtime to seek and surround myself with voices of truth.

Want a sneak peek? Here’s what I’ve found so far:

  • You are brave.
  • You are capable.
  • You are dearly loved.

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