If you’ve ever tried to grow a vegetable garden or flowers or any sort of vegetation, you will know that it requires a great amount of patience and dedication to your plants. However as your attempts to produce something fail year after year, you may soon grow discouraged. What am I doing wrong? Is the soil not right, the seeds, the climate of my environment?
When working on a character trait, or an aspect of one’s personality that one doesn’t like, it is easy to get discouraged. I for example have this problem where I constantly compare myself to others. It’s an awful thing to do. Every person is created differently with different strengths, weaknesses, family situations, looks, and the list goes on. In my mind I know all of these things, and it is with this conviction that I am able to continue moving past my insecurities, however I can’t seem to stop comparing myself to others. It comes to a point where I throw my hands up in despair and say “What can I do already????”
So now I have to dig beneath the surface, what is wrong with my soil? Why do I continue to do something that I so despise, that makes me miserable and that I desperately want to stop?
The answer came to me in the form of an epiphany (don’t we love them). I came to the realization that I was a competitive person. Although over the years I had built up a layer of defense called apathy, it didn’t get rid of the root problem. So although in my mind I said “I don’t really care” but I did. So suddenly, when I wasn’t on top and I wasn’t getting the results I wanted as fast as I wanted, I started comparing myself as to see where I fell in line compared to others. Of course in certain areas it was lower than I anticipated.This caused me to be unhappy with myself as I assumed that the way I compared myself to others was the way people viewed me as well. Of course, people never really pay as much attention to you as you think.
It has been about a week since I have discovered this. Once the underlying factor to my struggle was discovered it was that much easier to tackle the problem. The amount of times I find myself comparing myself to others has been dramatically reduced.
It also happened to be Yom Kippur time, and I realized that Hashem isn’t comparing me to others and so although I may be “less” or “more” frum than people in certain categories, Hashem isn’t looking at me and saying. “Wow your shmone esrei was 5 minutes shorter than hers.” Hashem is looking at me and saying “Wow, she davened with more kavanah this year than she did last year, thats an improvment”
So as always, I leave off with a suggestion- the next time you find yourself struggling, look beneath the surface and attack the root of the problem, so then a beautiful blossom of accomplishment can burst through the earth.
Hatzlacha Rabbah and Have a Chag Kosher V’sameach!