A Conscious Uncomparing

My liver is pickled. If someone were to remove it from my body it would probably resemble a gherkin, like one of those dead manky one’s found festering on a cheese burger. What can I say, though? I like my vino. At least now I’m back with The Rents I’m not buying bottles of £5 wine from the garage after making late night visits there in my PJay-jays. I do have some class, you know. Sometimes.

Joking aside, it is a question people seem obsessed with asking me recently – How Do You Cope – and I can’t help but think, ‘what do you mean, how do I cope? I’m not dying or anything,’ and way worse things have happened in my life than this tiny blip of having moved back in with the rents for a while.

There’s such a stigma attached to a woman in her late twenties moving back in with her parents. Especially – god forbid – a single woman (dust off that shelf people, this spinster needs a place to rest). For a guy, its normal, its acceptable, almost expected. I had this boyfriend in his late twenties who lived with his mum when I met him, and I didn’t even think twice about it. It was just his circumstance at the time. (Plus his mum was pretty cool and made me tea and watched soaps with me so why the hell would I complain?)

But for women its different. Women are notoriously rough on other women. We give each other a really hard time. We are often guilty of being unsupportive and judgmental – and I am by no means dismissing myself from this behaviour- when really we ought to be a bit kinder to one another because life is bloody hard enough as it – what with the minefield that is trying to date and work and figure it all out and generally exist – without all these snarky girl-vibes we fire at one another. Its totally against the values I stand for. I am not a woman that dislikes other women. They are fantastic. I count myself as being extremely privileged because I know – and get to be friends with – women who I consider to be some of the most fantastic, inspiring and wonderful people you will ever meet. Women who are stomach-hurting-can’t-bloody-breathe-hilarious, fearless, opinionated, successful, kind, creative, beautiful, imaginative – I could easily go on.

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Damn right!

I’ve just read this really fab article called Confessions of a Constant Comparer by Laura Barcella who I have recently taken to following on Twitter and doing that nodding-head-oh-my-god-yeah-me-too thing when I’m reading her words (and pretending to be writing some crap or other for work). Anyway, in her recent article for XOJane, Laura talks candidly about the experience of selling herself short and how, throughout most her life, she has compared herself to the women around her – friends included – and not always been that nice about the things she has thought or said or done.

She says: “It’s rare for me to go longer than a few minutes (sadly not exaggerating) without comparing myself to someone — usually a woman — around me. It could be a close friend, it could be a stranger on the stairwell….It’s like my entire world shrinks down to a tiny pin-point of hateful, jealous comparison. It instantly kills any rational knowledge or awareness of reality: that my life is GOOD and that I am LUCKY.”

I don’t know about you but I’m going to own up to this one *hands in the air*.

I am CONSTANTLY comparing myself to other people, and other women in particular. I only have to log on to Facebook and see someone gabbing about a new promotion, or firing off adorable baby picture after baby picture, or updating my newsfeed with their latest exotic travel stories, or changing their relationship status to ‘engaged,’ and I’m hit by a wave of stomach-crippling-why-not-me self doubt. I’m even guilty of doing it to people I don’t know, people I’ve never met. That’s the trouble with the internet. We can tailor make our profiles to promote ourselves – and lives – in the best light. But its artifice. Its what we want others to see.

Its not the picture of you in your scruffs and cradling the cat, or watching back to back episodes of some box set or other and necking a bottle of merlot while sporting a facepack, even though this is probably when we are at our happiest. Social media in particular has given us the bespoke grass-is-greener package. We can literally invent a world where everything is fabulous even if we’re screaming inside. Its terrifying and unhealthy, and ultimately incredibly damaging.

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But I don’t want to be part of the instagramming-my-food-which-filter-hides-my-spots/eyebags-best crew. Its exhausting and damaging, and completely misleading. As my mum (who I’m treating as a sort of Yoda of The Shire) says, ‘No-one’s life is brilliant all the time. That would be boring,’ and its true. Besides, if you don’t take the rough with the smooth, then how do you recognise and appreciate the good stuff, the triumphs?

So in short, we’re fab so keep doing what you’re doing and being who you are. And don’t worry, some people reach their fab pinnacle before others and some people don’t feel like they are quite there yet.

All I’m saying, boys and girls, is that we’re all different and that is pretty fucking amazing.

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