Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy

Yesterday I shared a pretty personal post to my Instagram account. This isn’t a particularly new thing, but it is always scary putting your heart out there for the world to see.

Something I am going to start talking about a little more on here is body image. I have been so content with my body image for the most part since my junior year of college, but there have definitely a few little bumps along the road, yesterday being one of them.

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I’ve had an overwhelming two weeks with a lot of sickness (like, normal people colds and such — not only my chronic illnesses) and really gotten off my normal POTS recovery schedule. Missing a day or two here and there is alright, but a large collection of days? Not good.

So not only was I starting to feel worse, but I started getting inside my own head and letting my mind bully my body. Since day one of getting sick I made the decision to be kind and gentle with myself, take one day at a time, and not compare myself to others. Theodore Roosevelt was spot-on when he said,

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

I knew that comparing the new life I never wanted for myself — having a chronic illness — with my friends who were going out into the world and getting their first post-college jobs and apartments would only be detrimental to my health. Rather than moping at home about the death of my shiny new dream job at Seventeen magazine I decided to focus on the things I could do. I could watch The Food Network and learn to cook, even if my body wasn’t actually up to cooking yet. I could write short blog posts with my dictation software. I could call my grandparents and make their day a little brighter; I still had the ability to be there for my friends and family. So those were the things I focused on.

When a handful of my friends started doing a bikini body workout I felt a little left out. Not that it was their fault; they would be happy to have me on board, but I am physically unable to do that kind of exercise with my new collection of illnesses. My Instagram feed and Facebook page began to flood with photos of weight lifting, sports bra before and after photos, and small digs at different body types. After a short while it all started to get in my head. Since I got sick I have not been able to do intense cardio workouts (I would faint pretty quickly), and I can’t lift more than a couple of pounds. I lost the muscle tone I was used to having my entire life, and I was the person so many of the girls would complain about being online — the before picture… And I absolutely cannot help the way I look.

This got me thinking more about the culture we live in. When did we start putting our self-worth in the hands of others, and why do we listen to the lies they tell us about our bodies? What exactly is the perfect body and why do we work so hard to change our physical appearance, but forget about changing our mindset? Being healthy is a wonderful thing, but appreciating everything your body can do at every single stage in life is incredibly important. Loving yourself  no matter what your shape or size is, and realizing that your worth isn’t dependent on the body that carries you is an important factor to being content and secure in yourself.

It sucks that we sometimes question our worth because of something as minuscule as the paint job on our outer shell. I genuinely think every single person I meet is beautiful in his or her own way. I can come up with a long list of amazing things about a person if I get to know them. Just ask my friends; odds are I have written them a letter (Or a hundred) about what a great person they are. Why are we so much harder on ourselves than we would be on a friend?

There is absolutely nothing wrong about working out and taking care of your body, (It’s actually a great thing!) but it becomes dangerous you make yourself sick by striving for perfection. I want to be someone people think of when they start to question their own beauty and self-worth. I want to serve as a reminder that it’s not at all about what is on the outside, but rather what’s on the inside that really matters. It may sound corny, but kindness is what counts, and the way we make others feel about themselves speaks volumes above how many “likes” we get on Instagram or whether or not we look like the people we see on television, in magazines, or on the runway. Once we get past our flesh and really dig deep into our souls we can make a lasting difference in this world.

“Did You Add Me Yet?!”

Ugh! Creepers are crawling all over the suburbs of DC.

As I’ve mentioned several times before, I have an autonomic nervous system disorder and spend quite a bit of time visiting different doctors. I have a primary care doctor, two cardiologists, two neurologists, a physical therapist, and a bunch of people I have been to for a wide variety of medical testing. A little joke some of us POTSies have is that we’ve seen more doctors than movies this summer. #TRUTH.

Anyway, this obviously means there are also nurses and people who check me out before I meet with the doctor. I was at the cardiologist recently and there was a new male nurse who took me back to record my blood pressure, heart rate in several different positions (lying down, sitting, and standing), and a bunch of other things that never cease to confuse me. The heart test involves putting a bunch of electrodes on my chest that are hooked up to a giant machine that records all of the information for the doctor to look at. As I pulled up my shirt and he began placing the sticky circles in the proper places, he started chatting about how much he enjoys lifting weights. I told him that I used to love running and that it was a goal of mine to get back into it again one day. He told me that running was great, but lifting weights is much better. To each his own! I know weight lifting has a bunch of great health benefits, but running is just so therapeutic for me and is genuinely one of my favorite activities.

We kept talking a little longer and he told me that I should follow him on Instagram. I asked him if it was a fitness account or something, as I figured he was probably just trying to grow his fan base, but he told me that it was just a personal page.

Weird, I thought. It didn’t seem like a super-professional move, and I had literally just been talking about a guy I was dating, but I didn’t think too much of it. I figured he realized I wasn’t really interested, as I didn’t ask for his handle or anything else about his account.

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This guy actually looks SUPER similar to the nurse I met, haha!

After he was done writing down my numbers he led me to a second room for more tests. He left for a bit, and appeared fifteen minutes later to hook me up to another machine.

“So, have you followed me on Instagram?” he asked casually.

“No,” I replied, confused. “I’ve just been playing chess on my phone.”

I purposefully didn’t say that I would or ask for his handle, as I really wasn’t interested in mixing my cardiology friends with my personal life. He went on to give me the little tube to breathe in and stuck me on the bike. Here is a picture of what the contraption looks like for reference; do you think I look like Bane too?

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This was my first time doing this test a few years ago; I had my mom take a picture, as the crazy contraption reminded me of “The Dark Knight.”

Anyway, he rambled about a few of his favorite foods and then told me I just had to follow him on Instagram when I was done with my exercise.

3, I noted to myself. I was huffing and puffing, and slightly annoyed this time. I don’t go to the doctor’s office to make friends or get dates. I’m there because I have a chronic illness and would like to get the best medical care possible. This isn’t a fun little trip for me; it’s something that I hope is another step towards getting better.

I finished my workout and he recorded my results. I was led to a third room where the doctor would eventually meet with me. “Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram,” he reminded me as he headed toward the door. “The name’s MurrayJeffersonLincolnGray.*”

What the heck?! I thought to myself. First, how in the world was I supposed to have found him before when I didn’t even have his first name, much less the three others that followed. Second, he really needs to take a chill pill. I am not adding this character on any of my social media sites, and he has clearly crossed a line of professionalism.

I decided to go to his page to see why it was such an urgent matter that I follow him. The first thing I noticed was that he only had 205 followers. This made everything that had happened just that much weirder, as it was clear this fellow didn’t push his Instagram to everyone — unless, of course, all the others were too creeped out to follow him as well, which is a very real possibility.

The second thing I noticed really gave me chills. He had posted photos in his underwear! Not just like a goofy selfie, but a weird pose and clenched butt cheeks. He had pulled the briefs to the side so you could see how much he had been working on his glute muscles.

YIKES.

I was speechless. I wasn’t brave enough to keep scrolling through his account, but at first glance he seemed to be really into post workout photos and his butt. If you want to do this, cool, but don’t try to get people in your professional life to follow you. That is so wrong and is a terrible idea on so many different levels. I also noticed that he had a girlfriend, which also seemed odd. He had been pretty flirty all day, and in all honesty I would be ticked if my significant other kept trying to get rando clients to add him on social media accounts.

After the terrible assault on my eyes had occurred, I hit the “Block” button at the top of the screen and clicked out of the app. I pinched myself, wondering if this was a strange dream, and jumped as my nails dug into my skin. Nope. This was an incredibly strange reality.

By the time I was leaving the office he had reached 5. He asked me 5 times to follow him on Instagram, and finally got rejected. I love that strange and awkward things happen to me so often because I have great stories to tell, but this one was just a little too out there for me. I don’t want to have to deal with creeps at the doctors’ office of all places, and felt uncomfortable enough that I will not be returning to this particular nurse anymore.

What do you think? How would you have reacted if you were in my shoes?


*Obviously I changed the handle around a little, but it was super-similar to this made up one.