Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Comparison Game

I hope that you all have had a restful holiday and have begun to feel the benefits of the break from classes. I, too, have had a break from USD. And, while I miss the hustle and bustle of my work life, it has been good to spend time with family. The Womack family celebrates Christmas in 3 parts... One with my husband's extended family, one with our family of 4, and one with my extended family. I would describe Joy as a theme of each of those celebrations. Yes, there is stress and work and worry, but those negatives all slip away to the Joy of what Christmas means to us and the time spent with those  whose stories are woven with ours. This year, as we were in the midst of our 3rd part, this quotation came to mind...
As my mother modeled for me, I model for my children that "my job is to spoil them". Gifts given were probably too excessive, but the giving brings me joy. As we were finishing unwrapping gifts, my youngest asked, "Grammie, is that Megan's best gift?" Zoe had asked for an American Girl doll and, as only a grandmother would do, received it. She loved it from the moment she opened it - it sat on her lap as she navigated the other presents. She was happy beyond measure. Then it hit her... What had her sister received? Was it better than the doll she loved? Grammie, no amateur at the parenting game, just smiled and said, "Megan's main gift was her boots. Tell me more about your doll's outfit." She saw it coming, the comparison between siblings had the potential to steal away the moment of pure joy.

Don't we do the same in our organizations? Our philanthropy was the MOST fun. We had the BEST formal. We are friends with the BEST fraternity. What does all of that mean? As a community, we allow ourselves to get caught up in the comparison game. Recruitment is just around the corner - and we see it here the most. Each of our organizations has something great to offer. Being who you are, and being comfortable with that, is what matters. It isn't about the organization that you perceive yourself to be competing with, it is about your group. The joy of fraternity membership is stolen when you start to compare yourself against other groups.

And, let's be honest, we are also doing this at an individual level. I know it. I see you in the SLIC. I see you walking by Olin. We are counting who has more friends, better times on the weekend, more Instagram likes, better hair, a better body, invitations to the most date events, a shout out on USD Compliments. It is everywhere. We spend too much time comparing ourselves to others. And, too much time letting that comparison be the thief of joy. For the past year, I have been writing here and working with students individually to help them believe the message of, "You Are Enough". A friend of mine had shared a story with me at a conference in December of 2011 that included that message. When I reflected on this, it hit me - this is what people need to believe about themselves. We need to know it as a part of the fabric of who we are. And, once we do, we need to be able to answer the question of "Why?" (But that is a different post for a different day.) Comparison eats away at the belief that You Are Enough. It is the thief of Joy.

Your organization chose YOU because of who you are. Your organization is an essential part of our community because YOU are in it. As you re-group and prepare to return in January, focus on those truths. And, fight the urge to measure against others. "Comparison is the thief of joy."

1 comment:

  1. After reading this article, it reminded me of an issue I've been addressing with all of my chapters, and that is the concept of "more fun." Most of my chapters, whether struggling or thriving, often mention that they want to have "more fun" than last year or have "more fun" than other groups on campus. While I certainly understand the desire to have fun, it saddens me that a group’s sense of fun is contingent on the groups around them. I couldn’t agree with Theodore Roosevelt’s quotation more, when we compare ourselves to others we are robbing ourselves of our own joy. I have been urging chapter presidents, social chairs, recruitment chairs and all members to focus on themselves, improving and innovating the chapter internally, as that will lead to feelings of accomplishment and worth. (Also, when groups strictly compare themselves to other groups on campus, they actually limit themselves tremendously).

    As you mentioned in the post, and it is my belief too, these feelings and actions stem from a low sense of self-worth. If members knew they were enough, imperfections and all, I honestly believe groups would have fun, and get more out of their experiences. Better members equal better organization. Let’s try to make better men and woman by showing them they are enough, and as recruitment approaches, I hope chapters are mindful about the culture they are creating for the potential new members. Are we really creating an environment that is allowing them to be better men and women, or are we creating an environment that only focuses on having “more fun” than the other groups on campus? I look forward to my last semester traveling on the road and especially my next visit to USD.