Pumpkins and Social Life
A Lesson from the Pumpkin Farm
One of my favorite fun fall activities is going to the pumpkin farm. This year we went a little late in the season, so all of the “perfect pumpkins” had been picked over. When my kids went to pick out their pumpkins, most of them had noticeable imperfections. Some lay flat in the dirt, with the bottom half of them dirty, while others were blemished and possibly rotting.
My kids went to pick out their pumpkins, excited and unfazed by any of these imperfections. After careful deliberation, my kids picked what looked like beautiful pumpkins. For the most part they were, but all of them had some sort of blemish.
They were so proud of their picks that I didn’t have the heart to point out the blemishes. When we got home, I placed the larger pumpkin outside and the tiny pumpkins on the windowsill. I carefully placed them with the blemished sides in the back, so others could not see them.
Putting our best side forward
As I looked at the three “baby pumpkins” (as my daughter calls them), I compared how they looked. The first pumpkin had a blemish that could not be hidden. The second had a much nicer shape than the others, and the third seemed healthier than the rest. It was kind of funny. I knew that all of the pumpkins contained blemishes in the back, but as I placed them on the windowsill I still felt the urge to compare them.
We have a tendency to do the same thing to ourselves and to other people. We all have blemishes, but we try to look like we have it all together. We also position ourselves to only show people our good side.
In addition, when we look at others, we tend to see only the good side that they want us to see. However, everyone has imperfections or blemishes, whether we see them or not. We tend to magnify our own blemishes and those of our families, and start to compare ourselves.
The dangers of comparing yourself on social media
We compare ourselves with the happy pictures on Facebook and the new accomplishments we find on LinkedIn. We get jealous of the supermom down the street that finds time for all of the fun crafts on Pinterest that you wish you had time to do. We forget that they have blemishes too. We just don’t get to see them.
We’ve seen a rise in this kind of thinking. In my opinion, this rise is possibly linked to social media usage. Social media makes it easier than ever to see only the “good” side of others and compare ourselves. However, comparing ourselves to everyone else is not healthy. Below are just a few of the ways comparing yourself to others can negatively impact you.
Comparing yourself to others can lead to the following:
We see many clients who struggle with these effects. When we talk with them, we find that there is an unhealthy amount of comparison going on in their lives, in addition to unrealistic expectations.
We are not perfect
Yes, your friend does cook all-natural meals for her kids, but maybe she never gets to see her husband. Maybe the neighbor keeps a perfect lawn, but maybe they don’t have many friends to spend time with. We all have things we’re good at, and we all have things that we could be better at. Stop comparing yourself and just be proud of who you are, blemishes and all.
Unlike a pumpkin, we can grow, heal and change
Just today, I was looking at those baby pumpkins again and I noticed that one had fallen over a bit. When I picked it up I realized that the blemish and dirt had turned into a full rot. My pumpkin was rotting. I had let a rotting pumpkin sit over my kitchen sink for who knows how long. It made me realize that if I’d only put the blemish side forward, I would have notice the rot forming sooner.
The nice thing about us (that is not true of pumpkins) is that we can grow, heal and change. Being true to our imperfections and letting others in can help make sure blemishes do not have to become a full rot (and a danger to us).
Moving forward, I encourage you to stop comparing yourself to others. Stop letting those comparisons keep you from being real with people and letting them know about your blemishes. Start showing trusted friends all sides of you and let them help you identify where you need to grow and heal so that you don’t let the blemishes start to rot.
– Charity Ritter LISW-S
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