Stop & Smell the roses, It’s Not a Competition
Throughout our childhood, there is a strong focus on being the best at everything. mostley this comes from our parents and peers who although they only mean to encourage, they create this thing where a person feels they need to be the best in sports – being picked first and being picked for the school teams. The best in class – getting the best grades; the best report card; the best places at the best universities. The best phone; iPod; clothes. The most popular. The most likely to succeed. I could go on… My point is, there is a distinct emphasis on where you were/are placed in a imaginary or physical league table of your peers.
As we grow up into ‘mature’ adults… And leave the world of compulsory education, we unfortunately continue this obsession of how we are comparing to another.
For those of us with disability or chronic illness, comparing ourselves to our able-bodied friends can be seriously detrimental, making us depressed and feel worse. Even abled bodied people do the same, this can help those of you to.
So-and-so from high school just bought his first house.
Whatshername from university has just been awarded her PhD.
The guy down the road, he’s making 60K a year.
John and Jane from college are married, two kids, and are going on holiday to Australia.
Need I go on? I’m certain if your reading this as someone with a chronic illness or able bodied you’ve said similar to yourself.
I’m certain you have replies to all of those sayings too. You haven’t been on holiday in years. Living in rented accommodation or with your parents, or living alone and just want more! . You barely making ends meet, or living on benefits.
But listen to me…. life is NOT a competition.
The people we relentlessly compare our ‘failing’ lives to don’t have to live with these life-changing/ life limiting illnesses. You are a SURVIVOR no matter who you are or from what walks of life, and have lived through experiences that some people couldn’t even dream of in their worst nightmare!. You have the ability to help and support others in similar situations – no amount of education, or money, or fancy plasma TV screens can mimic that. You have knowledge of the health system, of treatments and hospitals, doctors and health professionals. All of your experiences are USEFUL, and while we may wish we didn’t have that pleasure, we can turn around the negative and use it for positive.
While you may see better things in their world than your own, jealousy and wising for what others have is an ugly and unhelpful thing. Instead, why not use these feelings to try and improve your own situation – IF you are well enough. So you can’t do this and that but we live in a world of computers and social media ! Putting it in to perspective with my own life…If someone told me that I would be a world wide advocate for Epilepsy awareness I would have told you ,your mad. Yet that is what I have done for the past 6 years. Before this I was scared, tired, upset and felt worthless. I resented Epilepsy for taking everything away from me. Now although I’m still not happy (I mean who would be) about my situation but I have my own blog. YouTube channel, Instagram and all the other social media things. I’ve abseiled, started a lantern ceremony, celebrated purple day, raised over £4000, been in the newspaper, published in a worldwide magazine and been awarded several awards locally and nationally… All in this short time. You have the power to show people life shouldn’t be taken for granted- the more people realise this the more people will enjoy the simple things in life like we do… Like I do.
I appreciate being able to get up and out of bed, I appreciate every part of life. I appreciate being able to have a bath, I appreciate when I don’t have to take all my pain killers, or don’t have to be on oxygen, that all to me is freedom. There are so many things I appreciate that I know everyone else takes for granted and I tell you something, I feel I am more empowered to go forward in life: no matter how far I get in life.
Thee are so many things that id like to improve on. That obvious. Things i’ve lost over the beast which id love to get back. My home with my partner at the time, and all that goes with that… it was the ideal life I was leading. My job – that was the first thing that went, my driving licence…. that is something I find will probably never return, independence and much more…. however dwell on that and life would never continue. There are things I can do to change some of these (not all) and when the confidence comes to improve on that then I will… for now i’m thankful for life and what I have.
Living your life thinking you are failing in comparison to others around you, will ONLY set you up to fail. CHANGE your way of thinking. Challenge instead of competition – challenge yourself to improve what you have, but ultimately you need to love the life you live.
A good friend of mine told me that life is different for everyone and i was given this life by god because he knew I have the strength to cope with it. Coping with illness and pain takes a lot of daily effort. Just as much – if not more than being in full time work or being a mum or anything anyone else is doing. It’s just a different strength.
Life is not a competition or a race. Life is for enjoying, exploring and experiencing. The more you compete – the more of life you will miss. Go slower stop and smell the roses and enjoy the small things.