Home clean for Peach

Compare and Despair: The Subtle Art of Making Yourself Miserable

The Pesach Race

It’s that time of the year again. As Pesach approaches, a festive spirit envelops the community, coupled with an unspoken competition of domestic prowess. You can’t help but notice how your neighbor has cleaned every nook and cranny of their house, organized each closet, and shopped for a spring wardrobe for the whole family while the stores still had what to sell. You know that their kitchen will be turned over with military precision because that is how it happens every year, but they already started cooking a month ago, thanks to their Pesach kitchen. A peek into their freezer reveals a stockpile that could easily see them through the next ice age, while yours… well, let’s just say you’re wondering if you can serve hard-boiled eggs for each meal.

The Childhood Comparison

This ritual of comparison isn’t reserved for Pesach preparations alone. It’s a journey we embarked upon from the cradle, weaving its way through every stage of our lives. Remember childhood birthday parties where the size of your cake slice directly measured your happiness? The anticipation as each slice was distributed, hoping yours would be the largest, only to glance over and see a friend with a piece that seemed just a bit more generous. Or that afikomen gift that somehow always seemed grander when it was unwrapped by someone else? How you’d marvel at their fortune, your own present suddenly feeling less significant in the shadow of theirs. Yes, those were the days when envy began its subtle infestation into our lives, teaching us early on the art of comparison and setting the stage for a lifetime of measuring our own worth against the perceived fortunes of others.

The Dating Game

Fast forward to the dating scene. Your friends are recounting tales of romantic dinners and grand gestures. Meanwhile, your most notable date involved a debate over the merits of falafel toppings and embarrassment over spilled techina all over your new blouse. And let’s not even start on the engagements. While others are planning weddings that could be featured in bridal magazines, you’re wondering if backyard weddings (think covid) are making a comeback or if they are considered tacky. You also can’t help but notice the growing trend of elaborate proposals shared across social media, complete with fake props and a scenic backdrop. Yet, this realization brings a glimmer of hope. Perhaps it’s the unpretentious, genuine moments that truly matter, hinting that love isn’t about the grandeur but the connection. This shift in perspective is a comforting reminder that sometimes, the most memorable stories are the ones that begin with something as simple as falafel.

The Trials of Parenthood

The saga continues as we evolve into young parents. Social media feeds are inundated with pictures of well-groomed children in matching outfits, smiling as if they’ve never thrown a tantrum in their lives. Their homes? Immaculate showrooms. Yours? A living testament to chaos theory. At this stage, you’re convinced that the universe has dealt you an unfair hand. Every playdate or birthday party seems like a competition, where snack spreads are more gourmet than your last dinner. You can’t even remember the last time you enjoyed a hot coffee or navigated your living room without stepping on a rogue building block. Yet, amidst this whirlwind of parenting one-upmanship and perpetual fatigue, you find moments of pure joy and genuine connection with your little ones—reminders that maybe, just maybe, the chaos is actually a beautiful, albeit messy, part of this unique journey.

The Career Conundrum

Career-wise, the grass is perpetually greener on the other side. It seems like everyone else is on an express elevator to the top while you’re still trying to figure out which button to press. It seems like everyone else is on the fast track to success, effortlessly landing promotions and bonuses. Meanwhile, you’re working countless hours, questioning if your office chair can be made as comfortable as your living room couch, considering the significant amount of time you spend in it. Despite the long hours, you often find yourself feeling like you have nothing to show for it, watching as your efforts seem to vanish into thin air while your peers seemingly reap the rewards of their work with ease. Yet, it’s important to remember that growth often happens in the unseen, in the persistence through those long hours, and in the resilience to keep pressing on. Your moment to shine may just be around the corner, waiting for the right button to be pressed.

The Marriage Mirage

As for marriages, oh, the marriages. It seems like everyone else’s spouse is a direct import from a romantic storybook – always supportive, endlessly understanding, and with an unerring knack for remembering every anniversary and significant date. The surprise weekend getaways, cozy dinners in the latest 5-star restaurants, and diamond jewelry just because. In contrast, your partner’s idea of a grand romantic gesture involves bringing home takeout – and occasionally remembering to get your favorite dish. You often find yourself pondering if there’s a hidden chapter on marital perfection that somehow got omitted from your life’s handbook, as you unwrap yet another meal that comes with disposable utensils. But amidst these moments of doubt, it’s crucial to recognize the beauty in simplicity. True love is often found in the quiet, unassuming acts of care and understanding, not just in grand gestures. It’s in the shared laughter over a simple meal and the comfort of knowing someone is there, even in silence. Perhaps, then, the essence of a strong marriage isn’t about mirroring a storybook romance but in crafting your own unique story, filled with its ups and downs, and cherishing the genuine, unpolished moments of connection, togetherness, and shalom bayis.

The Perils of Comparison

It’s easy to spiral into despair with such comparisons. Steve Furtick hit the nail on the head when he said, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reels.”

Yet here’s the kicker: if life were a potluck and everyone’s problems were laid out for the taking, you’d probably scramble to reclaim your own set of troubles before someone else claims it as their own.

So, what’s the moral of the story? Focus on your slice of the cake, no matter its size. Remember, the only person you should compare yourself to is the person you were yesterday. Strive to be better, kinder, and more understanding. After all, the only real competition is the one against your own potential. And who knows? Perhaps your neighbor is secretly envious of the chaos of life. Now, wouldn’t that be something?

Compare Less With Relationship Coaching

If you relate to any of the comparisons mentioned above, and feel that relationship coaching could bring you to a place of full acceptance in your relationships and life, feel free to reach out to Miriam Zeitlin, a Brooklyn-based experienced relationship coach.

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