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Comparing Your Insides to Others’ Outsides

Look at Katie’s body, we think as someone with a body type we behold with grand ideals goes by, she must be so happy and have the perfect life. Jane is getting into graduate school, we think to ourselves, she is probably so confident in herself and I am really behind in life. Sarah has that new boyfriend and has all her needs met, I’ll never find a partner. When we compare ourselves to others and what we see in their lives, we are really just asking ourselves: What’s wrong with me? This question is less about what we have and who we are than it is about how we feel. We feel insecure. We feel self-conscious. We feel less-than. We feel inadequate. Making a quick judgment about someone based on what their life looks like on the outside doesn’t take into consideration what their life might be like on the inside. Katie could have an eating disorder, an obsessive need to exercise, or perhaps faced tremendous bullying and has deeply rooted insecurities. Jane might have parents who refuse to show her any love and affection unless she excels in her academics. Sarah’s new boyfriend might be emotionally abusive or she might be settling for a relationship that doesn’t really make her happy.

We must learn this about comparison: we never know what something costs. As someone on the outside of another person’s entire life history, personal thoughts, and subconscious, we can never know what their cost is for the reality they present to others. How much does it cost them to have the “perfect body”? What is the cost for a grueling academic lifestyle? Is there a cost to being in what looks like a happy relationship? More importantly, what do we cost ourselves when we spend our time comparing our insecure insides to the outsides of others? We cost ourselves time, energy, positivity, optimism, hope, and the opportunity to take action for ourselves. Instead of celebrate our accomplishments, embrace our uniqueness, we bring ourselves down. What we don’t often realize is many of our friends are doing the same thing about us. They see something in the outside of our lives, maybe even from the inside of our lives, that they compare themselves to and wish they had. If only they knew what we thought!

Living in a transitional living home with other women after our initial treatment supports our recovery of self. By spending each day getting to know and supporting other women, we realize that everyone is on a completely distinct journey in life. The more we learn to celebrate ourselves, the more we can appreciate and celebrate others. We strive to make each other better women of sobriety, one day at a time.