I was 13 when I first played on the same soccer team as my older sister, who was two years older. It was both fun and painfully frustrating. She was the top scorer on the team. She’d score an average of four goals a game. As for me, I’d score a goal now and then, but I was always the one who provided the assist, with my sister finishing off the play with the crowd-pleasing goal.
Oh, how I wanted her bacon… I wanted it SO BAD. I fantasized about scoring more goals than her, how it would feel, how happy I would be. I even prayed novenas and would bargain with God: “If you just let me score more goals than her this ONE GAME, I’ll give some random person FIVE WHOLE DOLLARS,” or something like that. (Ridiculous, right?)
You can imagine how frustrating it was when I came out dry every single game.
I remember one particular game when my sister scored three goals within the first 10 minutes of the game, one right after the other. I was like, God, dude, come on… Did you confuse the two of us or what?
So determined to outshine her bacon, I started positioning myself as close to the goal as possible. But of course, instead of getting all the goals I wanted, I kept getting called offside. (If you’re unfamiliar with the sport, offside is what happens when there isn’t at least one defender between an offensive player and the goalie when the ball is passed to that player.)
I wasted a lot of time crying in the bathroom after games because I envied my sister’s bacon so much.
If I hadn’t been so preoccupied with my sister’s bacon, I might have noticed my own. I would have noticed how strong I was at just about every position on the field, how skilled my footwork was, and how I assisted with so many of the goals my sister scored. And goodness knows I would have had a lot more fun playing if I had looked at it from that perspective.
Comparison is the fastest way to take all the fun out of life.
Comparing yourself to others is an easy trap to fall into if you suffer from low self-esteem. The problem is that jealousy merely fuels your low self-esteem, so it becomes a continuous downward spiral.
Here are five things that happen when you envy other people’s bacon.
You Try to Think of Ways to Be Like Them or Better
When you compare your bacon to someone else’s, you try your darndest to figure out how to be like them or outshine them. But trying to emulate someone else’s bacon is like squeezing into a sweater that’s not your size. No matter what you do, it just doesn’t look right. Or even if it fits a little, it’s never going to look exactly the same as it does on the other person. As a result, you become blind to your own bacon, which might be a slick, black leather jacket as opposed to a sweater.
For example, when I was just starting out in improv, I spent a lot of time trying to mimic other people’s style of humor instead of recognizing my own style and feeding into that. The result: stiff, forced humor that wasn’t funny and a dead-silent audience.
No matter how much you think about it, you’re never going to achieve someone else’s bacon. Not because you aren’t good enough, but because you’re meant to dish out your own unique sizzle.
You’re Easily Discouraged
The more time you spend obsessing over someone else’s bacon, the less time you spend recognizing your own awesomeness, which is very discouraging. You realize that it’s impossible to be like them, but rather than accept that you have so much of your own potential to offer, you continue trying to be like them only to be disappointed again and again.
Another area I always envied my sister in was friendships. We shared a lot of friends when we were younger, and they all liked her more (in my mind). She was older, cooler, and funnier. Instead of being my own glorious bacon, I kept trying to do things the way she would. For example, I remember my sister sometimes yelled out funny exclamations that would make one of our friends laugh really hard. So when I was riding a rollercoaster with that friend once, I planned to yell “Holy Jehoshaphat!” thinking it would be HILARIOUS. (I don’t know why.)
We start going down the first big hill and sure enough, I scream as loudly as I can, “HOLY JEHOSHAPHAT!” My friend just looks at me, completely weirded out. Maybe she didn’t hear me… So I keep screaming it. “HOLY JEHOSHAPHAT! HOLY FRICKIN’ JEHOSHAPHAT! HOLY F#[email protected] JEHOSHAPHAT, KAREN!”
I’m lucky I wasn’t escorted out of the amusement park after the ride ended.
Anyhoo, whenever tactics like these would fail, I’d feel devastated. But I would keep at it, only to be discouraged over and over again because I never got the same reaction that my sister would.
You Spend a Lot of Time Unsatisfied with Yourself
There is SO MUCH you could be doing with your bacon. But if you keep comparing yourself to others, you keep getting discouraged, which means you spend a whole lot of time feeling unsatisfied.
You Get Stuck in Your Head and Miss Out on the Moment
With all the time you spend trying to figure out how to compete with someone else’s bacon, discouraging yourself, and feeling unsatisfied, you’re missing out on the here and now. You’re missing out on opportunities to feel good about yourself and enjoy your bacon in the company of others. People think you just have resting bitchface and hate everybody when really, you’re looping around in your head trying to figure out how to be like them. Stop focusing on something you feel guilty about (you should NEVER feel guilty about your bacon) and can’t change. You are you. Don’t miss out on that.
You Start Believing False Truths of Your Own Making
Since you’ve gotten so cozy up there in the self-destructive zone that is your head, you’ve likely begun to create false “truths” about yourself.
“Everyone’s comparing me to him/her.”
“No one likes me.“
“I’m not good at anything.”
“It’s my fault I’m not like him/her.”
“What’s the point of even trying?”
“I have to be just as good or better, otherwise I’m not worth anything.”
The worst place to be is in a cyclone of negative self-talk. Comparison propels us into such a cyclone, which is why it’s so detrimental to our self-esteem. Try using more comforting (and true) phrases to help you glorify in your bacon.
Do NOT believe the falsehoods you’re telling yourself. They only hold weight if you give it to them. They stink up your bacon, which is a major no-no.
Even with all of your faults and mistakes, which are part of human nature, you are ALWAYS worth it. You are ALWAYS good enough. You have innate bacon just waiting to blow the world away with its sizzle. But the only way to let it do that is to recognize that no two bacons are the same. (Not sure if that’s true for the actual food, but it wouldn’t surprise me; Google it.)
Once you stop envying others and start letting yourself sizzle through, Holy Jehoshaphat, is it going to be EPIC.