Have you ever felt trapped,
like you’re this wild being that no matter what you do, what you say, who you act like,
you just can’t break free from the control society has on you?
I took my children to Busch Gardens yesterday. We stood in long lines with a mask on in the Florida heat. Honestly, it’s not really my thing, but for those kiddos – I did it, anyway. We came upon the cheetah exhibit and my daughter asked me if I thought they were happy. She knows that I really don’t love zoos or places that tame wild animals that would much rather roam free in their natural habitats. I very bluntly told her “probably not.”
We sat and watched them. Two laid on a rock soaking in the sun. One suddenly got up and starred at the window, looking straight at the children. He hunched down and then we became very curious to what exactly this cheetah thought he was doing. Suddenly, he pounced and grabbed a white crane that had been standing close to the edge of the exhibit. Everyone was in shock. He ripped apart this crane right in front of everyone. That’s not what most people paid for, not what they could Instagram and pose next to. The sunning tigers were much more appealing to the soul, not this savage beast. Most of the onlookers were disgusted, but not my children, they sort of loved it. They loved the realness of this animal experience. My youngest daughter said that the cheetah must have been hungry and that’s what a cheetah is supposed to do when it needs food. My oldest asked again if I thought the cheetah wished he was in the wild where he could run free?
“Yes, honey, I’m sure he does. I’m sure he wishes to be free from cages and judging eyes.”
From the time we are born to the time that we breathe our last breath, we are filled to the brim with voices, expectations, stories, and judgements. At the ripe old age of 11 years old, my daughter has begun to feel like she’s not good enough as she is. She struggles with sadness and even shame. What in the world could my baby girl be ashamed of? She has barely lived yet. My daughter has begun comparing herself to everyone around her – friends, classmates, even people she sees on social media or TV. It kills me.
Teaching her to never tame herself,
to be true to her passions,
to never squeeze herself inside a box,
to never be anyone, but who she is,
gets more difficult by the day.
Teaching her to be the cheetah,
fierce and strong and undeniably true to her being,
is something I will continue to do despite the difficulty.
I will give my daughter the space she needs to become who she is meant to be.
Here are a few things I am teaching her to get out of the comparisonitis trap:
- The things your inner mean girl is saying are not your truth. Your ego is challenging you. Hear it. Feel it. Sit with it. And then release it. Those thoughts do not serve you and it is your job to be stronger than those thoughts.
- Feeling low on self-worth? It’s time to dial the love up. Way up. If you think you aren’t enough or you can’t do a skill or a task, give yourself a pep talk. Instead of saying I’m not smart or I can’t do that back handspring (she’s a gymnast), tell yourself “I can do whatever I set my mind to and I am worthy of accomplishing all of my goals.”
- Put blinders on. Understand that nobody is you and that is your superpower. Stop worrying about what everyone else around you is doing or thinks about you. Comparison is the absolute thief of joy.
- Set boundaries. If you have toxic people or situations in your life, it’s okay to walk away from them. You don’t have to explain yourself and you don’t have to be friends with everyone.
- Celebrate yourself (even the little things) because you are incredible. You landed that dismount? Celebrate. You got an A on that test? Celebrate. You got that job? Celebrate. We so often think that only big achievements are worthy of celebrating, but it is often the small wins that get us to a place where we can accomplish great things.
- Be grateful. Start and end your day with gratitude. It is the most important thing you can do immediately to create more joy in your life right now. Write down and say out loud 3 things you are grateful for every single morning and before you go to bed at night. I promise you’ll be walking through your day with a more positive mindset.