Who knew donuts could be a lesson in personal growth? Of course, if you eat too many, they certainly can foster personal growth in ways you don't want! That kind of personal growth may or may not be happening with me right now. It's time to get back on the no sugar bandwagon again. But, I'm already off subject. So, let's bring it back on track.
I was at a conference last week in downtown Nashville. Story 2017. If you're a storyteller in any form: corporate, writer, artist, marketing...go sign up right now for next year because you don't want to miss it.
I was standing in line with a friend, getting her some free Muletown Coffee (we serve it at The Bridge Church, too, good stuff, y'all) when we saw boxes upon boxes of donuts up near the entrance. Donuts are my son's drug of choice, but I can take or leave them. Unless we're talking about Charlie's Donut Truck in Alys Beach, FL and then I fall squarely on the "take them" side. This particular morning, they were Dunkin' Donuts, bright yellow frosted and filled. In my world, that's three strikes against them. But, I'd skipped breakfast that morning because I had to get up at o'dark thirty to get to downtown in rush hour traffic. So, bright yellow Dunkin Donuts looked more appealing than normal and we decided to check them out.
These mounds and mounds of donuts for all the conference attendees were provided by Pinterest. And as we were handed a donut, we were told why. "Take your donut - your blank-faced emoji donut - and head inside where there are fixin's that you can use to create an emoji face on your donut. Post a picture, hashtag the conference and get a chance to win a pretty sweet $400 leather bag."
Now, remember, this is a conference of creatives. You could see the sleepy eyes light up as people were given the instructions. This took a Dunkin Donut all the way from "better than nothing" straight on up to "bomb-diggity!" And as we walked into the soaring lobby of the Schermerhorn, we were greeted by a huge spread of fun pieces to decorate these donuts with. Eyes, lips, accessories, chocolate to custom cut, frosting...super fun, right?
Well, it should have been. What should have happened is that I looked around in creative glee and began to play. It should have been play. Light-hearted and fun.
Instead, I tripped and fell headlong into comparison and competition. All of these other people messing with the abundance of emoji parts were surely way more creative, way cooler and way higher on the (newly discovered) donut emoji creation scale. It suddenly became more about my own insecurity and need to perform than about play and fun.
I will say this. At least I recognized it this time and I refused to let comparison be the king of that donut table. I made a quick emoji. I kept it simple. I worked at not worrying about how creative it was or how it stacked up against all the other donuts. I chose from the first pieces I saw, added some frosting bangs and I was done.
As I stepped back from the table and watched the others, I was glad that I'd not let comparison reign. This is progress for me. I realized what was happening in my head and intentionally didn't walk down that path. But, it did still ruin the fun. I'm looking forward to the day when I can approach a project table with others in a spirit of fun exploration instead of comparison.
It was a great idea, Pinterest. Kudos on the marketing joy. And thank you for the personal reminder of how easily comparison can ruin a beautiful morning. Theodore Roosevelt is often credited with saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” and I had a very vivid experience of his quote that morning.
I'm not sure if there was anything I could have done to salvage the fun of that experience, but I had so many other fun things happening that I wasn't too concerned. I realized that I typically walk into events like that with a comparison mindset. Do I belong? How do I measure up against everyone else there? This time, I didn't. I didn't really think about it until late the first day, but this time, I had walked in with a warm expectation of what I was about to receive. I was at peace, I was comfortable and I wasn't comparing at all. For someone always unsure of her place in the world, this was a profoundly different experience.
If you struggle with comparison and you do a search on how to stop, you'll find plenty of lists, plenty of actions to take.
But, no one seems to address the root issue. Comparison is the fruit of insecurity. Do the hard work of dealing with the insecurity and the comparisons will naturally fade away.
Good: Start to realize when you're making comparisons to others and how it impacts your thoughts and your life. Start to listen to your inner voices and get enough perspective on them that you can start to see how they shape your life.
Best: Tackle your insecurities. Begin to ask yourself what your self image is based on. Begin to dig into where you find your identity. As your insecurities weaken, you'll begin to leave the comparisons behind.
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