Wednesday, 15 June 2011


I wanted to expand a bit on last night's post, and try and explain why these things seem to affect me in such an out of proportion manner.  Your comments touched me, and made me smile, and I felt the need to explain my weakness to you.

I have always been someone that compares herself to others.  I don't know why, but I judge myself, my successes and failures, by external standards.  I judge my intelligence against my friends' and colleagues' exam results, my fashion and appearance against the magazines and the people I see around me every day, my family, travel experiences, my possessions, my finances are all judged against my friends (and let's face it, probably the shows on tv).  And unfortunately I judge my attractiveness against my peers too ..... they have successful relationships, people flirting with them and chasing them ... and yes, proposing to them ... so they must be attractive.  By definition then, I'm not.

I know that there's no logic to this.  It's something that we went over in the counselling sessions last Summer, in fact, we touched on it again and again and again.  It seems to be a root cause problem with me, but right now I don't know how to change it.

The real problem I have though, maybe, is that I don't compare my happiness with others, and I think that's mostly because I don't know how to.  You see, I don't really know how happy I am.  As you rightly pointed out, for all the external appearances of someone else's life, you never really know how happy and fulfilled they are.

In fact, I'm probably a good example of that myself:  I do have wonderful friends, and I do go on fun adventures - I have all the appearances of a fulfilled life.  And I have much to be grateful for: my health, my remaining family, my friends, my career, a steady job, a (nice) roof over my head.  Oh my goodness, am I grateful for them.

But I'm also frustratingly riddled with (self)-doubts and enough insecurities to undermine the whole lot.  I'm  blessed with an extremely active imagination - great because I have the capacity to think outside the box and visualise how something could be.  I think this is one of the reasons, I get bored so quickly and constantly need fresh stimulation - if I've done something once I want to do something bigger and better next time.  More exotic, more amazing, and yes, sometimes, more frightening. 

The flipside of that imagination, is that I can constantly imagine, and regularly do, the worst possible outcome.  I don't know if I'm alone in this, but if I see a homeless person, I imagine that was me and invent a whole scenario for how I'd cope and try and keep my pride and self-esteem.  I can cause myself to cry just by thinking too long upon my dad's morbid proclamations that he's not going to live much longer because people in his family don't, and have often been known to just start bawling because I imagine being all alone.

Maybe that's my biggest problem - in my worst case scenario's I quite often imagine my family gone (afterall I've only my Dad (71) and elderly Grandma (96)), my friend's all settled down with husbands / wives and kids, too busy to see me, and with my finances so fragile, I get scared that there's nothing to look forward to but a future of scraping by on a single salary.

I'm an equal-opportunity day-dreamer, so of course I have the detailed dreams about winning the lottery, dream opportunities presenting themselves to me in my career (really? you want to know what that is?  ummmm *slightly embarrassed* being a financial manager for an extreme sports company, looking after things like sponsorship and getting to go to some of the events and travelling - I have no idea if that job even exists, but in my head it does and it would be awesome!!), some gorgeous guy chasing after me, being gorgeous (and I mean properly gorgeous) myself.  So why don't I pay more attention to those day-dreams and make them happen?  Because I'm also a paranoid type. A pessimist.  So whilst everything is possible, Sod's Law is it will be the not-so-good stuff that actually does happen to me.

Sure, I buy my lotterly tickets each week (I can live in hope, can't I?), but it's the bad stuff I expect to happen.  Totally why I'm too scared to go and chase my bank manager about a loan - I'm scared to rock the boat and hear the bad stuff that I'm convinced they'll tell me.

I think I've wandered off-topic here, but perhaps it helps explain a little:  I'm terrified of ending up old, alone and poor.  Or even just alone and poor.  I compare myself constantly and relentlessly to others.  They get my dreams, and, right now, I seem to get my nightmares.  So yes, I feel a little sad.  Also a little panicky and scared that it's all coming true (engagement now, wedding soon, then kids and bye-bye).

When I think about it more calmly, I count my blessings and try and think of more ways to help myself.  I can drown out the niggling worries and be happy for my friends' successes.  Above all, I'm determined not to bring down their happiness with my worries.

But yeah, I have relapses:  it turns out it's a hard habit to give up.


Peridot said...

I thought things happened to everyone else too - I was amazed to get engaged at the very ripe age of 39 after 16 years with a boyfriend who I decided didn't love me 'enough'. That's the weird thing about life - you think it's all figured and it bites you on the arse.

You could meet someone who brings you much happiness BUT hideous debts - there are so many permutations.

It's sometimes hard to do, but it's so important to try and live in the moment and relish every experience as it's happening. And you, my love, have a LOT of experiences.

My fiance is 12 years older than me and I come from long-lived stock whilst he does not. We may not have a long old-age together so I'm going to pack what we do have with fun and ignore the spats, rows, trial and tribulations that are bound to happen. I too may be alone when I'm old - but I'm thinking of setting up a commune of elderly people who refuse to wear beige crimplene and determine to wring every ounce of joy out of life, are you in?!



claire said...

Goodness, you are not alone in this. But then, I wonder who really is?

J often says that I am scared that i have to pay for my happiness. I recognise that I am happy, yet have a sheer and total terror of something catasrophic coming along to ruin it. I am even scared writing that, madly superstitions about the plane that J has to get on back from America tomorrow.

Bullying at primary school, secondary school and one horrific incident at universtity have left me with a neurotic fear that whenever i leave a room, people are talking about me. Inadequacy is an hourly feature in my life.

And yet, you can have all of this, and some terrible periods when these things do get you down, and yet remain happy. It's not impossible. It's just being human - and being a woman - i unfortunately think.

claire said...

Sorry, that should have been superstitious...