Comparison, it has been said, is the thief of joy.
And most of us are guilty of robbing ourselves in some way.
I learned about comparing myself to others from none other than the Redhead Prime herself. Granny.
Granny had that one sister she didn’t get along with, the one that as children, would goody-goody Granny until the old gal was provoked to take a whack at her.
The sister was not exactly the warmest, fuzziest person in the world but for some reason, anytime something good happened to her, it sent my grandmother into a tizzie.
For example, the sister got a new couch once and the fact infuriated Granny to no end.
“Why do you care?” my grandfather wanted to know.
“Because, Bob,” she began. “My couch is old and worn out. She went and got a brand new one at Peters & Fosters that is so nice. It’s just like the one I wanted.”
My grandfather looked over his paper. “Yours is paid for. Hers ain’t. And yours is worn out because people come to see you; they don’t her. Quit worrying about what she does, Chicken.”
This did not matter to my grandmother. Her couch was as she put it, worn out, but like my grandfather had claimed, it was because she had countless family and friends that loved to come sit on it and talk with her. All Granny knew was her sister, Bonnie, had bought herself a brand-new couch and somehow, someway that was a reflection there was something wrong with Granny’s life.
Now, keep in mind, my grandmother’s life was pretty decent.
No, she wasn’t rich.
She had a husband that was crazy about her, or maybe just a little crazy for putting up with her.
She had two kids that loved her and had grown up to be good, kind people.
She had a home, a job, she was president of her Sunday school class, and had several friends the old gal actually liked. I even heard her tell one she loved her once when they got off the phone.
Not to mention, she had a pretty amazing grandchild, even if most of the time she was threatening to introduce me to Jesus a little ahead of schedule.
Her sister was widowed — a couple of times. Maybe even a divorce or two.
And God help her, she looked like Bea Arthur. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dorothy on the Golden Girls but apparently telling someone they look like her is not considered a compliment. I do believe Granny got me a hot fudge sundae later for saying it though.
When Granny wasn’t yelling at someone, she had a striking beauty. She was tall and carried herself like she was in charge, even if she wasn’t.
The sister she endlessly compared herself to tried in vain to either keep up or make her jealous, and Granny let jealousy win.
Every time Bonnie got something it reminded my grandmother she was in some way lacking.
She didn’t just stop at couches. If Bonnie had a grandchild or great-grandchild that did something, Granny was wrought with anguish.
“I have absolutely nothing to do with this,” I told her as she went on one day.
My reluctance to participate in this silly battle royale did not make my grandmother happy.
Mama thought it was all so silly.
“I don’t know why she gets so worked up over such nonsense,” Mama commented. “She needs to let Bonnie run her race, and Mama run her own.”
Mama always tried to be the voice of reason in matters such as this, but she couldn’t get through to her mother.
“You don’t know what it’s like, Jean,” Granny argued. “You ain’t never been compared to your brother.”
Mama did not agree with this statement at all; Granny on numerous times would make comments comparing the two. They both just chose to ignore them.
I could see all the good things that Granny had in her life, even if she couldn’t. But sometimes, we get so caught up in comparing ourselves to others and looking at what they have, or do, or have accomplished that it is hard to see all of our wonderful things right in front of us.
“Quit comparing yourself to someone else,” Mama scolded recently. “You chose to do something different than they did. Why don’t you look at what you have done instead of what you haven’t.”
Just as I could see everything Granny had that she couldn’t, Mama was able to see mine.
I may not have what someone else had, maybe I haven’t done the things other people have done, but maybe mine was pretty good in its own right or at least good enough for me.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. She lives to disappoint her mother, or at least that is what she has been told. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom.