Thursday, April 25, 2013

Scramble: A Modern Day Parable

got an iPhone at the beginning of this year. 

First off, iPhones are amazing! I have a small list of things that everyone said I need to try and I would just shrug and say, “Hm. I’m fine with what I have. I’ll just stick with it.” Then I try the product and my life is completely revolutionized! I suddenly can’t understand how I lived without the product! It’s amazing and wonderful and I insist on explaining to everyone I know why they are the best! IPhones are on this list. Tampons and cheesecake are on this list.

When I got my phone, my friends told me which games I needed to download so we could play together. One game was Scramble with Friends. Have you played it? It’s fun. Now, I love word games but I’m surprisingly bad at them. Most people assume I would be good because I read a lot and therefore know a lot of words, but they are wrong. I tend to freeze easily under pressure.

I started playing with a few friends and I lost miserably each time. One friend, SL, was especially good at the game. When I played her, it was embarrassing. I lost by hundreds of points. I had close games with other friends, like my little sister, but I could not even come close to beating SL. So it became my goal to beat SL. I asked her for tips and suggestions, which she kindly gave. At any given time, we had about five games going, so I was getting in a lot of practice. At some point, my little sister stopped playing with me because she got distracted by school and real life (wait, what?! Not everyone has time to sit around playing internet games?!).

I continued to get better. My total word count got higher and higher and I started the close the gap of points between me and SL. One day, my little sister started playing with me again. She immediately told me, “You need to get a life and get away from this game. You’ve gotten ridiculously good.” I was surprised to see that she was right! Our games weren’t as close anymore, with me losing every time. I was winning! I was also beating my other friends. But the most amazing part? I hadn’t realized it because I still hadn’t beat SL!

Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” We find someone to compare ourselves. We become so fixated on beating that one person (or even group of persons) that we forget to be happy. Happy for improvement within ourselves. Happy for the fun we have while we improve. Happy for the beauty around us. Happy for the mind, body and social ability to improve.

I wish I had specific advice on how to stop comparing yourself to others, but I don’t. I’m just as guilty, maybe even worse (Aha! See! Comparison!) Sometimes I make myself stop and think about how far I’ve come in my life, especially since I graduated from high school. I was a frightfully naïve and homely little thing in high school. Since then, I’ve done hard and challenging things. I’ve become a better person and I’m grateful for that. I even keep a list of those accomplishments in my planner, so I can always reference them when I’m feeling down.

What if, just for today, we don’t compare? We make a list of what we are proud of and admire ourselves for how far we’ve come? We don’t look at our list and say, “Well, hers is longer and she is younger than me” or “Well, she is earning more money than me.” Let’s just be happy for who we are. I think that is where our true beauty lies.