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.

Empty

Something I hear far too often is that people create online dating accounts not to form any sort of relationship with someone, but to create validation for themselves. This is a disturbing thought, as it puts your self-worth in the hands of others, rather than finding it in yourself or in God.

I am going to tell the stories of two different friends to show that seeking validation from the opposite sex is never a solution to finding your own value or self-worth.


Jenn* signs online and checks her messages.

157.

The number hovers over her little envelope like a little prize. Her heart leaps at the thought of a Prince hiding in her inbox — then drops when she doesn’t find him after searching in countless messages. Why don’t the good guys ever message her?


Mindy* signs onto the same app from her phone and holds her breath as the page loads.

zero.

There isn’t even a notification for this number; just a giant blue envelope with a glaringly invisible orange digit in the top corner. Disappointment creeps silently through her body, and she sighs as she swipes through the app in hopes to find a new match who will message her.


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Jenn lets out a soft groan as she reads through her messages. Nothing is new or interesting; just the same old pickup lines and mundane conversations she is so used to. Where is the excitement in dating? Nobody captures her attention, much less can keep it. She doesn’t look forward to signing on anymore; she just wants the dozens of first dates and “getting to know you” conversations to be over. She wants a boyfriend; someone she can count on and actually have a meaningful connection with. There is an empty ache in the pit of her stomach.


Tears well up in Mindy’s eyes. Why don’t men desire her the same way they do her friends? Where are the floods of messages she was promised for being a female? Why does the gaping hole in her heart feel as empty as her inbox?

She quickly feels unwanted and undesired. This turns into a slippery slope and leaves Mindy to picture living life alone. She forgets about the friends and family who surround her and absolutely love her, and her self-worth rapidly depletes.


Jenn and Mindy both close their eyes in their respective apartments. They are experiencing the same overwhelming feeling — loneliness.

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Today’s lesson: The real truth of the matter is that happiness and contentment don’t depend on the number of people at your disposal. Honestly, even having a great boyfriend doesn’t make loneliness completely disappear. You can’t rely on others to bring you contentment in life because they may not always be there to give you the love and security you are longing for. Instead work on feeling secure with yourself and finding greater purposes with your life than being connected to someone else — that’s just a really great bonus when you do find the right person!


*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

Dealing With Depression

This post is from about a year ago, and I finally feel like I want to share it with you all. Depression isn’t something that you can see when you look at a person. I started carrying this weight towards the beginning of the end of my last relationship and as soon as my ex and I broke up I snapped out of it.

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This picture breaks my heart, as it was taken at one of the darkest points in my life, but I look so happy in it. It’s one of the most “liked” pictures on my Facebook, and shows that you really don’t always know what someone might be going through.

Depression can be a chemical imbalance in your brain, but it can also be related to crummy circumstances in your life. I feel like we don’t hear about that side as often, and I want anyone who is in a situation like mine was to know that life can and will get better.

Since the breakup I have felt like myself again. I have normal feelings, I have been happy, I have been content, and I can feel again.

I know not all of you can relate to this, but I always feel like I want to help the ones who can realize that they are absolutely not alone. I know it feels like you are, but I promise you are not alone. I will gladly be there for each and every one of you who needs someone to lean on and although I can’t get rid of the problem for you, I’m more than happy to fight with you to get your life back.

Without further ado, here is something I wrote in December 2014 right in the middle of everything:

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I never thought I would hear this about myself, but I was just diagnosed with depression.

This is a very tough pill to swallow because I have always tried my best to remain positive even in the most trying situations. First, I would like to say that I realize this is NOT MY FAULT.  So please, if you are suffering with this too, realize that nothing is wrong with you. You are not broken and you are not less of a person because of this. Depression does not define me and it does not decide who I am as a person.

I’ve had a lot to deal with the past two years. My life has been turned completely upside down and to be honest I am surprised that I didn’t have to battle this even sooner. It really just became a problem that escalated quickly in the last few months.

I’ve said to friends that although I have sometimes felt frustrated about things since getting POTS, I haven’t been depressed. I’ve told them that I feel lucky that I haven’t had to deal with that throughout my chronic illness, and that I was fairly certain that kind of thing wouldn’t happen to me. But here I am.

Depression can happen to absolutely anyone. It doesn’t mean you are weak, and it doesn’t mean that you are going to be depressing to be around. I will write more about that another day, though.

I’ve never felt as alone as I have the past couple months. Sometimes I feel like I am in a fog or just dreaming. Life feels like it is just going through the motions of daily activities that need to be done, and I don’t feel motivated to pursue my passions. I have moments of happiness, but it isn’t the way it used to be. I sometimes feel completely numb, and I sometimes just feel the most extreme kind of sad and helpless that a person can feel.

The lack of motivation might be the worst part. I can sit at home and watch TV, but I don’t really care about what’s on. I actually hate watching TV — it bores me — but I don’t want to do anything else. I have trouble feeling present.

It’s hard getting up and doing things, but I make myself because in the back of my mind I know that I want to live my life to it’s fullest. I know that deep down the normal Krista is cheering me on and pushing me to make a better life for myself, even though I don’t necessarily feel like it.

Depression is by far the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with in my life. I feel so broken, but I know that am going to come out of this even stronger than I was before. Deep down I am a fighter, and I won’t stop until I find myself again.

I just want you to know that if you are dealing with anything like this, you are not alone. I still consider myself one of the most joyful people that I know, and I will not give up until I find that girl again.

This is the first post I’ve truly felt uncomfortable sharing. I’ve gone back and forth for weeks on whether I wanted to share such an intimate and personal aspect of my life with, well, everyone.*

I think it was important to share, though. I know not everyone is as lucky as I am to have so many people supporting them through life, and I don’t ever want any of you to feel alone in dealing with something like this. If you ever want someone to talk to I would love to be that person. We are never truly alone, and I promise things can and will get better. I’m confident that this is just going to be another chapter in my life that I’ll be able to use to glorify God one day. I’m just not really sure how yet.
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*I was going to share this on Facebook about a year ago, but never did. Then when I felt better about things, I didn’t want people getting the wrong idea about who I am today and whether or not I was still depressed. I can tell you that I am in a completely different place in my life now and although I still have my chronic illness to deal with, I feel like Krista again.