Be careful whom you compare yourself to. We all don’t start with the same deck of cards.
I was just looking at an origami bird and it reminded me of the time in Speech Class, my first semester in college, when we each had to stand up and show how to do something. I chose to show how to make an origami bird. I’d recently learned how and found it fascinating. What I didn’t realize is when I’m very nervous, my hands shake.
I was not in the same place as many of my college classsmates. I was on heavy financial aid getting no support from home. My background wasn’t that of being around college graduates or even knowing much about college. I was four years older than most of them, but I didn’t share that information. I felt ill at ease and out of place.
As I began folding the paper, my hands began to shake and I had trouble making the folds. I glanced at the class and they all were staring with blank looks on their faces. I looked over at the teacher and she was looking concerned, and disapproving. I didn’t think I’d ever get that bird made. I kept going. It seems like there was a time limit for the presentation and I was worried about meeting it. When I’m nervous, I tend to blurt out things I wouldn’t otherwise say. At one point when I almost dropped the bird, I exclaimed, “He’s going to fly away!” I got a C on that presentation. My overall grade for the course was a B+. I could not get the teacher to raise it to an A-. She reminded me of the bird making speech I’d given and gotten a C on. There was no way she could give me anything higher than a B+.
I had similar problems in my music class. I had to put the needle on the record at a certain place and my hands shook so badly that I just dropped the needle. Miracuously it landed exactly where I needed it to land. After I was done with that presentation, the teacher asked the class what I could have done to help myself when and if my hands shook like that when I was teaching? He said to ask a child to come up and put the needle where it needed to go. I learned and remembered that children enjoy being part of what the teacher is doing and most will volunteer to come up front.
Really? Not me. I came from a poor background and often wore hand me down clothes. I walked to school every day while others got dropped off by parents. I could go on, but you get the point. My background did not include trying to be the center of attention. However, I had decided to become a teacher and that meant I had to learn how to get up in front of others and not be nervous.
Four years later, I was fine. Four years later I could have gotten up and made that bird while describing what I was doing with no shaking and no comments that were not a planned part of the presentation.
I chastised myself for years for not being like everyone else. Now in my senior citizen state, I realize a lot of us didn’t start at the same beginning point as some of the others. We had things to learn that they learned as children.
I’ve gotten comfortable in my own skin. That is one of the joys of being a senior citizen. I know who I am. There is no need to compare myself to anyone because we have all lived different lives and we are who we are. Experiences and challenges have made us who we are.
Life is cruel when we compare ourselves to those who have had more advantages or easier lives. It is enough to know we’ve all made progress and things we could not do in the past, we can do now. We should compare ourselves to where we started in life. If we do, I imagine we will all be happy with how we turned out.