Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fear and Self-Loathing in London

Exams are coming up (boy are you guys going to get sick of hearing about THAT) and that means that competitive studying is on!

You know what I mean ... it's when your friend Z spends the whole day studying and you feel like a failure because you slacked off and played Lexulous on Facebook all afternoon and clearly Z is so hard working and going to kick ass on finals whereas you are only barely going to pass IF you pass at all, so the next day you study like a maniac and Z freaks out because today she's been looking at places to travel to on her next holiday. And so on. Vicious cycle of fear, self-loathing, and manic studying. Bear with me, I have a point.

And that point is that, many of us, for better or worse, are really into the comparison game. I for one, am not immune to this game. In this game, you say things like say....

Crunchy Chicken is better than me because well she's a super hot chica who makes her own butter and fancy soaps and freezes her buns off without even swearing about it.

Or...

Chile is better than me because she can make anything from scratch, including fancy pants condiments and chocolate truffles. And also she uses hand powered blenders and other non-electric things for everything. And she bikes around everywhere. Basically, she's like an Amish vegan superhero!

Or...

Beany is better than me because she RODE A BIKE CROSS COUNTRY. I mean who does that? Aside from Beany?

Or...

Green Bean is better than me because she consistently produces delicious food porn while simultaneously saving her son's school singlehandedly. (Try saying that five times.)

Or...

Melinda is better than me because she brings boatloads of passion to her environmental practices. How she has that much passion never fails to amaze me.

My point is that I'm surrounded by super-heroes and they're all better than I could ever hope to be. So basically, I should probably just eat worms and die.

No, I'm kidding! That's not my point.

Are these women super-heroes? Yes. Are they better than me? Uh, probably. Should I eat worms and die?

No. Partly because, well, I'm trying to be a vegetarian most days, and that wouldn't be very vegetarian of me.

And partly because comparing yourself to others is just ... missing the point.

Living a sustainable life isn't about trying to outdo one another in a bid to be the greenest of them all. It is, fundamentally, about trying to achieve balance. Balance in your life. Balance between you, society, and our environment. Balance between what you really need and what's kind of superfluous.

After all, you can only be living sustainably if you can, in fact, sustain it.

So, lately, I've had to come to terms with the fact that I am not the superest greenest superhero. Instead, I'm just a gal with a lot of s**t on my plate who does the best she can.

And while there are a lot of people out there who are way better than me, that's okay. Because at some point, you have to let go, and stop comparing yourself to others, and just focus on yourself.

But meanwhile my mythical friend Z has probably read 150 pages while I wrote a blog post, so, back to my routine of fear and loathing.

11 comments:

Chile said...

Wonderful point you've made. We all do what we can do in our individual lives. Comparisons are not helpful. I am to inspire others but I certainly don't consider myself the perfect example. Others do far better than I on many things, but so what.

Do what you can and be happy with your life!

Green Bean said...

Oh hugs and kisses, instead! It always looks better from the outside. From there, you cannot see the styrafoam from the take out we got tonight because mom is stretched too far and doesn't feel good. You cannot see the clothesline, hanging listlessly in this beautiful weather. I'm just a gal with a lot of s**t on my plate who does the best she can, too. It just looks better from the outside. ;-)

It is all about balance and effort. We do what we can and that has to be enough.

queencityfarmer said...

Great post. You may not feel like a superhero but you continue to inspire me to do my best. Even though I mess up and make poor decisions sometimes I keep trying and making little changes that have, over time, significantly changed my impact on the earth.

We all screw up, but as long as we keep learning and trying to change where we can we are succeeding. You're a success in my books! Keep up the great posts.

Fake Plastic Fish said...

I'm definitely better than you. What's Lexulous? And why haven't I become addicted to it yet?

JAM said...

And don't forget there are plenty of us out there who think of you and your year of not buying every time we convince ourselves we "need" a new running shirt, or whatever it is! You offer an amazing balance of being inspiring and being human, and I sure appreciate it!

Good luck on those finals and don't stress too much - remember, in 10 years (or 5 or even 1) it won't matter what exact score you got, only that you finished and it allowed you to move on to the next chapter.

Anonymous said...

Its easier if you recognize that you (and I and everyone else) are not really important and that in the end not much of what we do will really matter. We mostly do our best anyway.

ruchi said...

Beth, you ARE better than me. For sure. Lexulous is the new Scrabulous. It's just like Scrabulous, but not sued.

Farmer's Daughter said...

What is the Facebook of which you speak? (Just kidding... but I'm not allowed to have a Facebook due to the job. Ya know, role model for the kiddos and all.)

Anyway, I like comparing because it helps me be a better, greener person. And I think you're a way better non-consumer than I am. So when I'm at the store and think about something I don't really need, maybe I'll remember that you're a better non-consumer and wouldn't buy it, so I shouldn't buy it.

See? It can be the other way around, too.

And my craziness is mostly over, just the downhill to finals now. I don't have to study, but gotta get to work writing them, battling with the xerox machine, then grading over 100 of them in only five days. That really stinks!

Beany said...

You're my super hero cause you made butter by shaking a bottle for a very long time. That's just too much work for me. And that you're studying what you truly love in a gorgeous city. I could never take a risk like that. Every one of your super heroines (did that word go out of style or something?) inspires me every day to be a better person.

I'm just a lunatic...so unless you're aspirations include going crazy...you shouldn't look at me for inspiration.

Stephanie said...

This is mine: "Arduous is an eco-friendly student in London... why can't I be more like her while I'm trying to pass my classes ahhhh!" :P It's getting toward crunch time over here in Vienna too.

Crunchy Chicken said...

What are you talking about? Who else has given up their career to move halfway around the world to study something they are totally passionate about, leaving friends and family behind?

That would be you, my super-hero friend. So, snap out of it!