One of the things about social media is that there’s always some sort of bandwagon on which to jump, some hashtag to follow, some challenge in which to participate. For the second year in a row, I’ve proudly declared myself a participant of #The100Day Project. (Between this and reading 100 Days to Brave, it’s like I’m trying to prove something. Ha.)
The 100 Day Project is all about exploring creativity; doing something creative for 100 days. Creating more, consuming less: It aligns with my personal goals, so with no rhyme or reason I decided YES on April 1. I would start the next day.
Three days in, one of my fellow participants posted a series of abstract works citing how glorious it had been to have four uninterrupted hours of painting.
Cue the sarcastic thoughts of self-implosion: My, what a LUXURY to have that kind of time! Meanwhile, this little business card-sized clover piece was all I could muster. I created Little Lucky because that day I felt the exact opposite.
For the past few months, I’ve been physically struggling with a new onset of pain. I initially attributed it to twisting too far in yoga, sitting too long at my desk, or just being out of alignment in general. But the pain grew worse spreading from my lower back to my left hip. I was uncomfortable sitting and experiencing sharp jolts of pain when I was moving. I was waking up in tears in the middle of the night.
On Monday night, I sprawled out on my stomach – the only semi-comfortable position I’d found thus far. I was fine as long as I didn’t move; when I went to get up, I found I couldn’t. After a meltdown on the floor, I resigned to calling my doctor and that’s when we discovered it. X-rays revealed that my psoriatic arthritis was no longer in remission, but this time taking up residence in my spine and “rebranding” as spondylitis.
Since Tuesday, I’ve struggled to see a silver lining. While surgery would be scary, at least it would be a “fix.” Unfortunately, there is no “fix” for now. So, I wait for answers, experiment with new ways of coping, and try to remember gratitude in the process.
I’m halfway through a study on comparison and each week begins with a Combating Comparison Truth, which I promptly scribble on Post-It notes.
- Week One: You need to be honest.
- Week Two: See it like it really is.
- Week Three: You don’t always have to be okay.
- Week Four: You didn’t do anything wrong.
- Week Five: Her gain is not your loss.
I leave the blue squares stuck to my computer monitor because
sometimes all the times I need that reality check:
- I am not able to currently operate as Optimum Amanda and it is bothering me, physically and emotionally.
- The artist who has four hours to spend on her art may or may not even know I exist. She is simply an artist creating art and did nothing to provoke me. I am projecting my not-okayness on her.
- Who knows? She may have really needed that extensive art therapy time. She might be struggling, too. Either way, it’s a good reminder that everyone is jumping their own hurdles; everyone is fighting their own battles.
- Her gain is not my loss. My gain is not hers. Or yours. And ultimately, I want more art to beautify every corner of this world — it doesn’t matter who creates it.
A few weeks into the study, my counselor posed a question: Have any of your relationships been negatively impacted by comparison?
One name immediately came to mind. Five years drifted like water under the bridge and my ability to hold people at arm’s length became a new normal. I sat on the question for days until I felt compelled to reach out and apologize. I didn’t even know if she had the same email address.
She did. And we met last Friday.
I don’t know if I’m the only one struggling with this, but the odds say that’s impossible. So for those who understand, I’ll tell you what I tell myself:
YOU. ARE. ENOUGH.
Always have. Always will be.