Last week, I took a vacation. It was not a vacation week for the whole family, so most of the time was spent resting, relaxing, reading, and watching NBA and NHL playoffs. I spent a lot of time with my wife. I was able to pick my kids up from school during the week. I was able to drive to Dallas and visit family.
All in all, it was a restful week. I needed a break. (Full disclosure: other people recognized I needed a break and my boss told encouraged me to take the week off.)
I enjoyed my time.
Now, however, I would like to talk about why I hated it.
I have been busy for a long time. My normal schedule the last few months in New Jersey consisted of 12 hour work days (9-10 hours of work; 2-3 hours commuting), three weekly small groups, regular 12 Step group attendance, church, and helping out with homeschooling.
Since we have been back in Abilene, I have had periods of time with either three jobs or two jobs and graduate school. Then there was the time I did one of the most intensive two year degree programs that involved 12-14 hour days.
Oh yeah, and I had family stuff to do, too.
So when I graduated in August and started working a job that required me to work 8-5, five days a week, I received that as a welcome rest.
Now, I work my job and participate in a few other activities. Some might say I am involved in too many other activities. In fact, one former professor told me I should never have more than 7 roles at one time (including father, spouse, etc.). Last time I counted, I had 15.
But I will tell you I am not too busy. And I have proof:
Just look at that guy over there.
I often feel like I don’t measure up. And based on conversations I have had with a number of people, many of you feel the same way. We compare ourselves to others and find ourselves deficient in many ways.
A number of my favorite female bloggers have been talking about the destructive forces of moms comparing themselves to: Pinterest pictures, party ideas, school involvement, media images, and on and on.
Yet guys suffer from the comparison game, as well. Men want to be as strong as, or as muscular as, or as athletically gifted as, or as financially secure as. Also, while the media blitz against women is much more pervasive and overwhelming, the standard that most men are held to in popular media is unattainable, as well. From Josh Hutcherson to Chris Hemsworth to Brad Pitt to Sean Connery, the image of the cool, suave, sophisticated, rugged-with-never-a-hair-out-of-place guy is an image I can never match.
And that’s just with body image. Although I often find myself wishing I was as attractive and appealing as the stars of the screen, I actually find myself more often wishing I was as accomplished as the people I go to church with.
Successful business people; published authors; happy, carefree families; families that take fancy vacations; families that buy name brands and eat out a lot (well, at least more than I do).
All of these people seemingly exist to remind me how much I have left to accomplish.
Not to mention the ones who are really busy.
I know the life of a minister and how it does not fit into a nice 8-5 schedule. I know how emergencies pop up and need to be taken care of right away. I know there are meetings upon meetings to discuss the direction the church is taking.
I am learning about the life of professors with all their grading and dealing with student issues (not to mention administration issues). I see the amount of work they put in late into the night.
So I cannot say I am busy because just look at all those people that are even busier, more attractive, more put together, and more accomplished than I am.
Those are the busy ones.
The other day, my wife and I were discussing this issue of comparisons. As I was talking about the pressures men face when they play the comparison game, Shawna was telling me how much worse it is for women.
Yes. In a conversation about the evils of comparison, we were comparing how different genders play the comparison game.
I will never measure up. Because I will always know something about me that I do not know about you. I know my inmost weaknesses and failures. I know my struggles. But I see your successes.
In other words, I am comparing my insides to your outsides.
And that is why I struggled with my week off. Because when I compare all that I have not accomplished to all I am guessing you have accomplished, I am left feeling like I need to work harder and do more. I don’t have time to rest.
I wish I had a conclusion. I need a powerful, profound paragraph right here to explain how to overcome the comparison game. But I don’t have it.
All I have is this: I hate not working. I hate resting. I hate taking time off. Because it makes me feel like I am not doing enough.
But I loved my week off.
I rested. I recharged.
I am grateful.
And maybe, just maybe, that is enough of a start….