“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
We all fall victim to comparing ourselves to someone else at one time or another. However, I’ve noticed that pregnancy is an especially easy time to fall into the trap of comparison-making.
My first case-in-point: My belly, the most obvious and outward sign of pregnancy, is pretty unimpressive. Although I had already gained about 10 pounds after embarking on my IVF journey, it took me about 5 months to gain any weight at all with this pregnancy. At least one person a day would say to me, “You don’t look pregnant!” All the while, women with beautiful beach-ball bellies float by at work, the store, etc. (I live in Utah, after all, where there are lots of pregnant women).
I started to worry. What if my baby isn’t growing correctly? Is she doing ok in there? After having a miscarriage, the shoe-drop thinking still comes and goes… I bought a handheld Doppler machine to listen to the heartbeat regularly so that I could make sure. Even with this added reassurance, I tiptoed around with my tiny “beer belly” until my structural ultrasound showed that everything was developing normally.
Why did I let those comparisons stress me out so much? I already fall outside the normal realm of anatomical size for a woman at 6’1″ tall, so why would I think that my belly would look the same as that of a woman who is 5’1″?
Additionally, I am guilty of quick comparisons when it comes to exercising while pregnant. My normal activity level has plummeted during my pregnancy, but I hear of women still running, weight training, rock climbing, etc. during the bulk of their gestational period. My energy level and frankly my motivation for such things has been quite low, but I sometimes feel a twinge of guilt about it. Why am I not like those other women? And HOW DO THEY DO IT?
Comparisons in any arena of life are an easy thing to find but a thoroughly unnecessary stressor, a sure path to the land of discontent. Our current culture of social media as well as ubiquitous regular media certainly don’t help the situation. How can we deal with these ever-present opportunities for comparison? First, recognize comparison for what it is. As I’ve analogized with rock climbing, there will always be someone who “warms up on your project” – someone stronger, smarter, etc. than you are. Also, return to the discipline of gratitude, which takes constant practice. What positive things can I find in my situation? (Well, at least I won’t have tons of stretch marks and I don’t have horrible back pain from a ginormous baby bump!) Reframe what you’re seeing. How can you draw inspiration instead of comparison? Use the growth mindset and learn from what others are doing instead.
What about you? What comparisons are your easy traps? Share them here!