I'm not sure what it is about the human race that makes us so prone to comparing ourselves with each other. We wander around thinking everyone lives these perfect little lives without any trials or difficulties, and gee, what's wrong with us that we can't get it together like (fill in the blank friend or family member). Those individuals whose trials we can see always appear to be handling them beautifully. We don't know they are sobbing into their pillow each night and teetering on the brink of sanity.
The problem is, we never compare with the person we should be comparing to (ourselves), and we certainly never compare apples to apples. For example, I have a totally awesome sister-in-law (seriously, she rocks!), who, while she has her difficulties, happens to have strengths that directly correspond to my weaknesses. A month or two ago she decided to take up running. She ran a couple miles the first day. Now she is training for a marathon (and liking it, what is up with that?) She looks forward to running. I, on the other hand, couldn't run around the block unless I was being chased by a herd of stampeding cows. Even then, I'd probably just decide to let them get the best of me, because, in the words of my sister, "Why should I die winded?"
But, everyone has their problems. And sometimes, those problems are pretty tough. There's even one of those feel-good sayings about how, if each person put his trials in the center of a circle and could choose, in exchange, any set of problems that had been thrown in, he would take his own difficulties back. I'm not sure I agree with that - I'm pretty certain there is some woman in war-torn Afghanistan who would love to trade places with me and my cushy American life. ("Oh, poor thing, you're depressed?" she would say. "Here, hold this grenade for me.")
But, honestly, I think we would feel better if we would all start talking a bit more about the struggles we face, rather than wrapping them up in shiny, perfect-looking packages and pretending that nothing is wrong. I'm not saying we should reveal every nook and cranny of ourselves to every person we come in contact with (heaven knows, we don't want to be exposed to all the crannies of strangers), but a little more openness could help a lot of people. We don't want to be seen as imperfect, thinking people will judge us. But, little do we know, they've been looking at us all this time and judging themselves.
There is no shame in seeking help. I'll say it again, there is no shame in seeking help. How many people suffer unnecessarily because they refuse to get the counseling or medication they need? This is why David and I have a deal: If he says to me, "Bonnie, you need help. I want you to see a counselor," I will go, no questions asked. If I say, "David, I think you might be helped by medication," he will see a doctor. And if one of us suggests marriage counseling, we will go as a pair.
Besides, there are benefits to seeing a counselor besides just the obvious emotional health boost. What better thing to have in your arsenal than the ability to say to people you don't like, "I'm sorry, but my therapist says I shouldn't talk to you."?
But, even as I say this, my perfectionist side is begging to reveal that I'm not actually seeing a counselor myself. (Mustn't come across as imperfect!) But, drum roll please... I have seen a counselor in the past for issues with depression and, wait for it, perfectionism.
There, I said it. So there, perfection!
Don't let the door hit you on the way out.