In all my years of crafting, I’ve gotten one reaction a whole lot – “You must have a lot of time on your hands!” – but once I became a mom, that statement started being tinged with suspicion.
We’ve talked about it here, I get a lot done. And so people are always asking me how I manage that. (Hint: It’s mental illness) Sometimes people really want time management tips, other times they want to find out where the catch is. I must be a phoney, there must be something I’m neglecting or some help I’m getting that they’re not. If I sense that they’re sincere, I’m happy to talk tips or confess to how many days a week I go without changing out of pajamas, but they’re rarely sincere. Usually they only want to press me until they find something they can hold against me, or use to discount my accomplishments in their eyes (hey, if mental illness won’t do it, what exactly are they looking for?). It’s a weird position for me to be in – I believe that it is my moral responsibility to be as authentic and truthful as possible, but I don’t exactly want to hand these people my weaknesses for ammunition.
I’ve gotten this reaction so, so, so much, that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, and I realize it rarely has anything to do with me. Now whenever someone says it, I recognize it as coming from a place of insecurity. They recognize that my quilts or jams or whatever takes time and thought and care and they feel insecure about their own efforts. They wonder why I am able to do these things that they’re not doing, and instead of feeling secure about their own priorities or deciding to try harder in areas that matter to them, it’s easier to try and attack the efforts of someone else.
I can’t do anything about these people, only steer clear once I recognize a diminisher, but since I hate it when people do it to me, that means I have to be on the lookout for the times I do it to someone else. Because we all do it. We all have our insecurities, we all question our priorities and wonder if someone else has got this whole thing figured out.
Whenever I catch myself wanting to dismiss someone else’s accomplishment, I have to force myself to stop and run through this little quiz.
Why do I want to dismiss what this person did?
Do I think they did something stupid and inconsequential?
Did it hurt anyone? Was it unethical?
Then let the person have their accomplishment and don’t be a dick about it.
If I don’t think it’s stupid and inconsequential and I’m still wanting to dismiss it, that is a big red flag that I have some work to do to be secure in my own choices. I could find a way to participate, or I could evaluate a few things and decide that it’s not a priority after all. And once I’ve made that decision, I actually find myself able to enjoy my friends’ accomplishments without jealousy.
I have a ton of runner friends. And I hate running. Hate it with a passionate fire. But I don’t want to. I want a hard runner’s body and the endorphin rush and the fun events. But after evaluating my priorities and my body’s ability, I’ve decided running is just not something I can take up right now. But I can cheer my friends on. I can donate to their races, I can support them on facebook, and every time a friend finishes their first marathon, I feel genuinely happy for them.
Diminishing the world to bring it down to your size is such a temptation. It’s a quick fix to feel instantly better. But ultimately it’s a prison. You’ve made a world with no room to grow and nothing to aspire to. It might make your jealousy feel better, but in the long term it’s poison.