My meditation teacher said this quote at the end of class today- “Comparison is the thief of joy”. As she repeated it three times, I let it fully sink in. There is so much truth in this statement. Growing up, it was customary in my culture to compare myself to others. At a young age, I was constantly exposed to my parents’ biggest worries being of what the Indian community would think of them. I, on the other hand, never truly understood it and would always question why one would live their life based on others’ opinions. Subconsciously, I feel like as much as I resisted the idea of comparing myself to others, I would do it anyways because I felt like deep down I had to. I mean, it’s kind of hard not to when your family, friends, and community were always doing it. “Don’t go out past 9pm… if someone sees you they will tell others in the community and our family name will be shamed”, “Don’t be so loud and crazy when we have guests over, they will think we did not raise our daughter right”, “Don’t wear shorts in front of the guests, they will think you are trashy”. This dialogue was more than normal in my family life. It was as if I had to live two lives. One being my “indian” life and the other being my authentic self- doing as I wish, because I can.
Ever since I was a kid, I loved exploring. The outside world fascinated me and I loved meeting people from all different backgrounds. Despite me being born in America, I was definitely raised Indian. All of my friends were Indian, I would only be allowed to go to the movies with my Indian friends, and I had even been on a Bhangra team since I was 9 years old. I loved it. I loved dancing and learning more about the richness of my culture. Once I got into high school, I felt this pull to meet new friends of other backgrounds and actually get to know people that I went to school with. I became more comfortable with myself and made tons of people from different backgrounds! It was rather exciting, especially because I didn’t feel the drama and judgment that I would feel when going to Indian functions. For the first time, I felt open and free to fully express myself without comparing myself to others. I felt unique and fell in love with who I was becoming.
All of the enjoyment I was having at school and after school was enriching to my personal growth. I was making my own decisions and being myself without feeling judged. However, I would come home to my worst nightmare- Every. Single. Night. Constantly being yelled at, judged, and not accepted for who I was. I know I’m not the only Indian girl out there who has felt this way. It was as if anything that was making me genuinely happy would make my parents miserable. So dramatic! I didn’t understand what the big deal was, there was a lack of communication, and it took a lot of arguing for me to make a point that would eventually get no where. Half the time, I felt like they weren’t actually mad at me, but it was this fear of what others will think that fueled their fire. So this went on for a few years, but eventually I think my parents got tired of trying to change me (lol!). It was always worth the fight though. I had to literally fight to be myself- to do what I want, choose my career path, and develop nourishing relationships. All of it was completely worth it and I would tell anyone 100 times to always be yourself no matter what. I love my parents and I understand that they were raised in a culture that breeds fear. It’s not their fault and they always did their best. I will keep holding onto my culture, but definitely letting go of the parts that I find whack!
Now that I’m on my 27th year of life, I look back and can’t help but laugh. All of the precious moments in life spent on comparing yourself and being worried about what others’ will think. As I write this right now, I am noticing my mind going into an old pattern of “what will people think of this post? Are my parents reading it right now thinking i’m crazy?” But I am choosing to not care anymore. It’s definitely a practice that I am willing to partake in.
In my opinion, comparing yourself to others is never worth it, you know why? Because we were all made unique! Yes, we are all connected by a Divine energy that governs this entire universe. But, we are all unique emanations of this divinity. You have purpose and it may be different from my purpose, which is totally okay! We are all meant to have different paths, different experiences, and different aspirations! It’s okay to be different- it’s actually the wisest thing you could do! Accepting that we are all different is so refreshing and it opens up a portal of self acceptance. Only when we truly accept ourselves can we fully accept another. THIS IS TRUE LOVE AND TRUE FREEDOM PEOPLE!