Today while with my personal trainer, Laura, I noticed a younger woman with her trainer lifting some pretty heavy looking weights. And suddenly I felt guilty for moaning about the seven kilogram (15 lb) weight I had used to do split squats, but the rush of emotion didn’t stop at guilt. It hurried to something else that can be even more of a confident buster than guilt. Yep, you guessed it—the comparison narrative.
“She is much younger than I am,” I said to Laura.
“We don’t do comparisons in here,” Laura replied on automatic pilot.
Only then did I realise that as confident as I can be about many things that I do, whether working out, writing, podcasting or even driving, I find myself falling into a comparison narrative, even if it is only with myself. I thought I had squashed this narrative years ago.
When I was a teenager, I remember entering the 100-yard dash race during a field day at school, favoured to win. Back then I was quite a flier and could out run just about any boy or girl my age or even a bit older. But when the whistle blew, I stalled. I didn’t have the confidence in my ability to win. I have never forgotten.
And now that I look back on it. I think it had to do with comparing myself to the other girls in my class. Those who were athletes were arguably competitive and rightly so. They were confident in their games, whatever that was. But I, who had only displayed my athletic ability at church picnics, at home and so on, compared myself to them and didn’t measure up. There went my high school, college and life interest in becoming an athlete.
And over the years, when the comparison narrative has cropped up, pushing me away from something, I have managed to put it in check, particularly to do with writing. It was only today that I realised that though it doesn’t rear its pushy head aggressively the way it used to, it turns up subtly and in the slightest way can knock my confidence.
So just remember teen girls, when you find yourself comparing yourself, your abilities to someone else, put it into perspective. There’s only one you and all you can do is be the best you can be. No one else can do that. That takes trusting in your abilities, whether that’s in academics, sports, drama, life. That takes confidence.
Wear it and wear it well, like you would protective gear for inclement weather, to paraphrase Cheryl Grace, guest on Episode 1: Your Confidence Inside Out. Listen on iTunes. As for me, so much for paying attention to others while training. It’s all about me next Tuesday. But don’t tell Laura. We wouldn’t want her comparing, now would we.