- Some were comparing themselves to others.
- Some were comparing themselves to a former version of themselves.
- Some were comparing themselves to an unrealistic version of a woman's body.
This week, I got invited to do something I've never done before called Stand Up Paddle Boarding. I was a little nervous. Not especially about falling in the water. I have always been a good swimmer, plus I'd be wearing a life jacket. This invitation was triggering an old fear. One that kept me from ever going to pool parties in my teens and twenties.
My fear was what the others would think of me in my bathing suit.
Oh, hello FEAR! Hello, spirit of comparison! I know you and I remember you torturing me for so much of my life with crap like, "You can't do that, wear that, try that. You'll look fat". So I'd play small and hide and wear big, cover-up clothes.
I sure as heck wouldn't paddle board.
But you know what? Being under the power of that kind of fear only kept me stuck. It never got me freedom, fitness or adventure. Stuck. Stuck. Stuck. The reason is that comparison is a thief. We think it is somehow protecting us from ridicule, embarrassment, or public humiliation. But friends, this is not middle school gym class anymore. We have all been through enough to know better than to make fun of one another. We have grown up.
With that in mind, I got to the dock, got equipped with my board and paddle, and into the water I went. I started on my knees, then stood up when I was ready. It was not as difficult as I thought it would be. It was a gorgeous day out on Hoover, and I was paddling right across. And guess what? I wasn't giving my body a second thought, and neither was anyone else.
I was having too much fun. At one point, my friend Jen showed me how to do a few yoga poses on the board. I did a plank, got into downward dog, even kicked up into single legged dog, and tried a wobbly warrior 2. It was so fun and empowering.
You might not have the tight thighs or belly that you used to. So what.
You might have a few more fat cells than you used to. So what.
You might have rolls, cellulite, stretch marks, scars or wrinkles. So what.
No one cares. Your people love you, and they are all that matter. Don't give in to a lie that is stealing your joy. Get in your swimsuit! Make it a bikini, if you feel like it! Get out and swim! Get on a paddle board! Live your life, no matter what shape you are in. Comparison is a LIE!
The antidote, the truth, is gratitude. I am beyond thankful for legs that propel me up hills and across canyons. I am thankful for arms that paddle me across Hoover Reservoir! I am thankful for every experience that takes me out of my fear and into the life of my dreams.
In the light of radical gratitude, comparison shrivels up into a small, powerless nothing. Feel like something's been stolen from you? Take it back! Not by fixing your body, but by cutting comparison off at the root. Don't feed it. Find the gifts. Find your power, and use it to live a life of peace, love and paddle boarding (or whatever your thing may be).