I am learning that comparing my insides to someone else’s outside is often like comparing apples and oranges. We can never truly know another person’s pains or joys fully and because of this I am learning that it is best not to judge them for I will only be able to do so through my own experience which will in turn only lesson theirs.
Even though an apple and an orange are both fruit, they don’t have much else in common.
I have often found this to be true of people as well. While two people might share something in common, they are apt to experience it differently. And they are apt to experience it differently for all kinds of reasons which can include how they grew up, where they grew up, their current socio-economic level, their former socio-economic level, their ethnicity, where they live, how they live, their religion and so on….you get the idea and these things will color their reaction to that experience. Thus, making something otherwise very similar quite different and quite unique to the individual.
My doctor will often tell me that she has patients who are sicker than I am with my particular disease. I suspect this is her attempt to make me feel hopeful and on an intellectual level I get this. But on an emotional one, I hate it when she does this.
When she does this, it diminishes my experience and all I truly know is my own experience. I know who I was before this happened to me and I know who I am now. I used to be physically stronger. I used to have bounds of energy. I used to be quick witted. I used to be pain free. Now…well…not so much on any account.
In addition to this, people will some times tell me that I don’t “look sick”. I have learned to take this in the spirit it is intended but it is just another example of apples and oranges and comparing insides and outsides and how none of us truly understands someone else’s experience.
Whenever I have found myself comparing myself to someone else, I have also found that I am in an unhappy condition. My state of mind is not at peace when I do this. Generally when I engage in this behavior, I have found myself insecure, jealous and self conscious. Yuck!
And whenever I have been compared, it hurts. It makes me feel misunderstood, belittled and sometimes guilty.
Sometimes I have more than another person. Sometimes I have less. If I have more I should not have to feel guilty for it and I should not act superior. If I have less, I should not belittle someone else in an attempt to gain what would be shaky ground anyway.
We all experience life differently even when we share commonalities and as such, I have found it better to embrace this fact because when I do, life is not only easier, I learn more and I have peace.
I may be a small fish in a big pond and you may be a big fish in small pond. The fact that we are fish is really all we share in common. Our experiences are bound to be quite different because of our underlying circumstances which are often not fully known and therefore should not be judged.
So fish or fruit or human, what I am learning is that it is best not to compare myself to others for I don’t fully know another person’s situation. I may only know a small part of it and since I am learning that comparing is just another form of judging, I am also learning this is not how I want to be.
Instead I hope to appreciate our commonalities so I know I am not alone while still being able to embrace our differences so that I can learn from my differences with other people rather than judge them.