Foreward: One month ago, I traveled to Hawaii with no sense of how to enjoy the present. Shooting for a style post with my versatile 3-strand gold Lizzy James bracelet, I started to think about the strands and what if I could tie some meaning to them. I decided my unique arm candy would fittingly represent the past, present and future. The artisan-crafted pieces of leather and gold became a trinity of sorts and today I’m sharing that lesson of finding paradise with you. Enjoy!
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”— it’s the Theodore Roosevelt’s adage our parents and mentors told us growing up, a quote on a coffee mug in Anthropologie, and possibly the caption of your last Instagram post. I admire Teddy’s acumen in dissecting the human psyche, but I wonder if he realized that we often compare ourselves to, well, ourselves.
I used to have an ill-willed habit of pitting myself against others. Why am I not further along in my career like she is? So-and-so looks great — I wish I could look like her. Wow, so-and-so just got married and I’m a 25-year-old who still burns her eggs in the morning. If you were ever as apprehensive about self-love as I was, you’ve probably had a few similar thoughts run through your brain. I extracted the clutter of comparing myself to others when I realized it was a roadblock, but I was still a blind passenger when comparing my present self to the future me.
We haven’t even met our future selves, so how can we compare? We dreamily fraternize with this unlived persona each time we think of the years to come. That’s all great until you start tearing yourself apart when the future catches up to you and isn’t exactly as it seems.
Instead of thoughts like “How come I’m not as far in life as so-and-so?” – an irrational and negative statement that can be nipped in the bud when said out loud, the thoughts are more sly and sneak up on you with zero remorse. I said I would be at the top of my career at 27, but I’m nowhere near where I’m supposed to be. I aimed to be a published writer at 23 and I’m two full years behind. I wanted to be in my best possible shape by 25; that’s never going to happen. I said I would write a book by 30; how am I supposed to get published in 5 years? These are a few of the callous thoughts that would pass through my mind every week as I imprudently beat myself up over a timeline I felt was finite.
Goals are the oil that keeps our wheels spinning forward toward success, happiness, love, etc. These ambitions are essential for setting up the blueprints for which you will build your life upon. We generally attach a deadline to these goals—we’re taught with good reason to make them measurable. This paradigm can become an all-consuming obsession. We can live and die by the clock to lose that weight, write that book, and get that corner office in a fixed interval of time while we completely disregard the beauty in the present.
When you cut the comparisons, you can realize how far you’ve come from the past and stop pitting yourself against the future you. Your life’s blueprints may change; your building may even fall down once or twice due faulty infrastructure, bad relationships, and antagonists who tries to break you down. You will rebuild an even stronger foundation — but none of that matters at this very moment. What matters for these 5 minutes of your day is the now.
Instead of thinking about my late start, I think about the accomplishments I’ve made in such little time. Instead of comparing myself to my short-lived size 2 past and hopeful size 2 present, I look in the mirror and find beautiful things to say today. Instead of pondering if I’ll write a book by 30, I trust my sense that I’m carrying a novel somewhere inside me that will eventually be put on paper when I need it most.
This is the part where I challenge you to think about your own comparisons. Think about your trinity. Where have you come from, where are you heading, but most important, where are you today? If you can sit with those thoughts in complete and candid honesty, you’ll find that you’re doing pretty great already.
About Lizzy James: This 3-strand Natural Brown Leather + Gold Bracelet c/o Lizzy James was a stellar addition to Hawaii wardrobe. You can customize the type of metal and choose from 50+ leather colors. Visit here to build your own bracelet.
About the look: Forever 21 Floral Dress (similar here), Lilly Pulitzer for Target Pineapple Sandals (eek—they’re on eBay), Kate Spade Saturday Sunglasses (similar ones here), Beach House Fancy Rough Diamond Bar Necklace.