Measure Up

The other day I made the mistake of googling my old nemesis. She was the girl in school who was tall and thin and all the boys liked. She wasn’t particularly smart nor did she have a sparkling personality but in junior high? Those things do not matter. And I. . . I was the supporting actress in the side kick/friend role. The chubby, smart, everyone’s friend and therapist girl.

It was one of those friendships where one day she would be BFFs with me and the next day, ignore me. Like overnight as I did my homework and watched Family Ties and ate dinner with my family and talked on the phone with friends, she decided I wasn’t worth being friends with. This would go on for days as she’d buddy up with the other most popular girl and their posse of mean girls. Sometimes they would gang up on me for no reason. I’d sheepishly find someone else to eat lunch with and then they’d accost me. I remember one time she made a point of saying I was fat and that no one liked me because of it. As they were bullying me an older girl in a different class stood up for me. I took that moment to run to the bathroom where I stayed in the stall for the remainder of lunch period, crying.

She made many of my days hell. I hated her and simultaneously wanted to be her. When she would have a change of heart I would cautiously be nice back but like any abusive relationship, the honeymoon period inevitably ended. Even when 8th grade graduation came, I still secretly wanted her to accept me even though I was friends with almost everyone in my class. It was HER approval I wanted most. It’s sad that as young girls we experience firsthand the sometimes catty and cruel nature of female friendships, the way it feels to be rejected, and that our looks are oftentimes lauded as more important that our personalities, smarts or heart.

So anyway, I stupidly googled her. I discovered she has a different last name meaning she’s probably married. Then I read that she’s a fashion designer. In New York. THEN I saw a video of what had to be her- still lanky and a bit awkward wearing all black being interviewed about how she doesn’t like her feet. The interview is dumb and she sounds like she never did get any smarter but. . . I was still jealous. I started comparing myself to her. She’s still thin. I’m still fat. She’s married. I am not. She has a big, fancy career as a fashion designer. I work at a boring non-profit and I’m not even a manager or director (anymore). I shared this discovery with my friend & coworker RayLo and she said, “Her husband is probably cheating on her with one of her runway models. She’s very unhappy.” To which I added, “No! He’s cheating on her with one of her male runway models. Ah, I feel better.”

But of course, I didn’t really feel better. Thinking bad things about another person is not really the way I deal with things. It’s doesn’t actually make me feel any better, ever. So what if she seems to have a great life on paper. Is that how I want to measure success? Do I really want to equate happiness with appearances? Because I know plenty of people who on paper (or on blog, for example) appear to have it all made but that’s not the entire story. Just because she “seems” to have a fancier life than me doesn’t mean she’s better than me or happier than me or more successful than me. And who the hell cares? She’s just some girl who was a bitch to me 20+ years ago.

She is not the point. The point is: we all get to measure our own lives. . . but we shouldn’t be measuring success and happiness against other people or the version of other people they show the world. The best litmus test for personal success is to measure ourselves against our own dreams and desires. The way I see it, life is not a contest. If we live it that way, the only person we’re disappointing is ourselves.

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79 thoughts on “Measure Up

  1. As usual, you are very inspiring. Yeah, so, she makes pretty clothes? You work for a non-profit and are making the world a better place. It’s better to have a fullfilling, meaningful life than to do something that probably isn’t going to make a difference years from now. I’m proud of you!

  2. So brilliantly well said. This is such an excellent point. I am going to re-read it.

    I do the same things though – I hope that someone is unhappy just to make myself feel better. And I compare myself to them. It is honestly just ridiculous.

  3. Sheโ€™s just some girl who was a bitch to me 20+ years ago.

    Well put.

    There is a girl from high school that keeps trying to get me to befriend her on facebook. She’s a back-stabbing, two-timing beyotch and I have no desire to ever converse with her. Or at least that’s what my memory of her is. And sometimes, it’s best just to leave those people who treated us like crap in the past.

  4. People really don’t change that much…I am sure she’s is probably still a beyotch, and as we all know, beyotches are unhappy people.

    Nice people finish first! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also, re: the comment above: Facebook totally is bringing out all these high school feelings for me too!

  5. What a great message! The last line “The way I see it, life is not a contest. If we live it that way, the only person weโ€™re disappointing is ourselves” is especially perfect.

    I think we’ve all had people like that BEYOTCH in our lives. They are so not worth a second thought. Like you said…they are probably only look and appear happier on the outside. Just the outside though.

    We all have to live our life in a way that works for us and be ourselves. otherwise…who are we living for? Right?

    =)

  6. Well she is either still shallow and a bitch, in which case who cares. Or she has matured and is deeply regretful of what a bitch she was to you.

    Perhaps I need to go back and re-read your last paragraph.

    This was my life in 8th grade. I am pretty sure that junior high was hell on earth.

  7. Oh I know this feeling. I measure myself against others in my age group or younger ALL the time, and it drives me mad. I often feel I’m not where I should be in life (great career, flexible income, and/or married with kids), yet, I decided to go back to graduate school some years back and I’m here, 35 and a student, counting pennies to make ends meet and not knowing for sure if the choices I made were all worth it. But I like what you say about life not being a competition, and I think everyone’s pace is different, we will all be wherever it is we need to been soon enough. Sure there are always things we could change and make better, but life should be enjoyed in the here and now, right? Any phase we are going through and stage in life we find ourselves in, that’s where we need to be and why not enjoy it in the process? So every time I find myself measuring up to someone else’s accomplishments and life, I refocus and find all the positives of being where I am now (I have a list) and smile. Things will not stay like this for ever, of that I’m sure, we might as well enjoy the good parts while we have them : )

  8. You know that when we meet next month I am going to give you a big bear hug, right?

    From what I know of you, and what little I just read of her, I can tell that you are one hundred times more amazing than she is.

    xo

  9. See, I really don’t need to comment now, because as your post wound down, I was essentially thinking exactly what you wrote in your last paragraph. My best friend has his own business and really does have it all, but in a different way than I do. I use to compare what I had to him as the litmus test for my life, which was dumb of me, because it’s my life, not his.

    Basically, I don’t care what anyone says anymore, this is my life. Everyone can go ahead with their own lives and leave me alone.

    Ok, I realize quoting Billy Joel was a bit unecessary…

  10. Right on… comparing yourself to someone else doesn’t get you any farther… and actually doesn’t even affect them at all! What’s the point? We should look at these people (that we are jealous of?) as a motivation. If we think they have something we don’t have, something we want, we should ask ourselves what is missing in OUR lives that’s making us think that way ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I know, I know, I know the point you are making in your post, but I SWEAR it sounded like you were writing about me. I was in that very position in elementary school and jr. high with the school “it” girl and I too ended up being friends with everyone but her. I even begged my parents to send me to a different high school to get away from her – she drove me THAT insane. I’ve never Googled her though and after reading your thoughts, I know it’s still fine that I don’t. Thanks Sizzle!

  12. *clink* I’ll drink to that. I have these fleeting moments where I think, “oh we should be bringing in more money so we could do this or that. And we should be doing this and that too!” And I have these little insecure moments about how we are living our lives. Then I stop and remind myself that while we are not rolling in cash and living it up glamorously, we are happy. We like where we live, we love our house, and we get to live our lives how we choose. And then it becomes okay again. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. I had a friend from 6th grade and beyond who would likely be labeled as an Overachiever, but this would also be a gross understatement.

    Said friend excelled in everything and my jealousy over his success always caused a bit of a gap in our friendship. It was all my problem of course since he accepted me for who I was.

    And to this day, I still think about how I never measured up to him.

  14. The pastor of my church says two things quite often that always make me feel better when I’m in circumstances such as the one you described (which is often).

    1. Hurting people hurt people.

    2. What other people think about you is none of your business.

    He’s right. I am in control of me and only me. If I can live with myself, then I’m doing better than most.

  15. Amen. Not sure why it took me so long to figure out, but when I stop worrying about what everyone else is doing, I am so much happier with myself.

  16. I’m about to face the same type of person at my 20th HS reunion. This post had me asking myself, why am I even going?…but then I read the last paragraph and it made me smile. So true Sizz, so true.

  17. I remember a couple of years ago when I found out that a girl I had known and been jealous of since elementary school had dropped out of law school, gotten pregnant and left by the father, and was back living with her parents. My parents told me (the same parents who had, I thought, rubbed all of her achievements in my face) and I said “HA! Finally she’s more pathetic than me!” and instantly felt like an ass. I guess I was feeling pretty bad about myself, and the comment was really illuminating to me.

  18. another reaon why I think you are fabulous!! It’s easy to say yeah, her husband is cheating on her or she might not be as happy as she seems, all to make you feel better. But really, who freggin cares??? Let her have her good life, good for her and I hope she is as happy as she seems. It’s never a good idea to compare your life to someone else’s even if that other person is really happy. I’m glad this post is not THAT post. I agree, you live your own life and make what you want of it.

  19. the girls who tortured me were fat. they had money and had lived there forever. I was new to the school. Later, they lost weight but I was still fat but I was more successful and one of them tried to be nice to me.

    My boss toasted my fabulousness as she stood idly by…waiting to serve our food…

    Karma, baby. Karma.

  20. First: You never really know what someones life is like unless you live it yourself. Who knows if she is happy or not and really it would be ok if both of you were happy, right?

    Second: I think you are awesome. Your last paragraph is perfect.

  21. I catch myself doing this a lot. I hear about girls I graduated with who are married, have kids, are in med school or graduated from a really awesome school. It’s hard not to feel bad about it as if I don’t measure up. I don’t need to be at the same place they are. I’m doing my own thing and loving the ups and downs. So what if I don’t have a degree yet? I’m taking time to make sure I’m doing something I love.

    P.S. You rocketh my socketh.

  22. I love the last part the most. “The best part about being an adult is getting to measure our own lives” We get to create what we want to see there. (To me anyway), happiness really is about making the most of what you have, not having it all. Never doubt your fabulousness Sizzle!

  23. There’s nothing meaner than a teenage girl. Seriously, they’re the worst.

    And ya know what, I guarantee there’s someone in bitchy girl’s life who she probably compares herself to. We all do it. And you’re right – we shouldn’t because we’re the only ones who really matter. Oh and MoximamaKC is right – you’re making the world a better place while she’s doing what? Picking out fabrics? Whatever…

  24. Think of the hours and the pressure she has.

    Not only is Girl’s husband cheating on her with her male runway models, but her kids think the nanny is their mother. She is very unhappy and wishes she could be making the world a better place. She googled this girl she used to be so jealous of because she was beautiful and had self-confidence, something Girl was lacking so she made fun of her to feel better, and found out that she was right where Girl wanted to be. Happy, fulfilled, in love with this “Fella” and making the world a better place. Unfortunately, Girl is so busy being judged and judging others, she has no time for a blog and blog friends to make her feel better. No strangers love HER. ๐Ÿ™‚

    My old friends from jr. high – 1 is a doctor AND a lawyer and the other is equally successful. I’m still trying to find out who I am. agh!

  25. The tao te ching has some great things to say on this subject.

    Fill your bowl to the brim, and it will spill.

    Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.

    Chase after money and security, and your heart will never unclench.

    Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.

    Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.

  26. This is what struck me: “still lanky and a bit awkward wearing all black being interviewed about how she doesnโ€™t like her feet.”

    She may have, from your POV, a more desirable body, but she doesn’t sound comfortable in it which just goes to show body image issues know no size boundaries.

    That said, she was a real dick to you, and that sucks. I stayed under the radar of torment in school mostly, but some of my closest “friends” were manipulative in ways that effected changes in me that ripple through to today.

    You, however, seem to have a wide circle of supportive, caring friends IRL which looks a lot like success to me.

  27. Some things don’t change, and I know what you mean. Somehow I don’t think we’d ever be satisfied until we walked past them in the street and they were asking us for change. And we’ll still probably compare shirts or something and find ours lacking.

  28. Sizzle, what you said is so true. But, it’s hard not to compare yourself to others and not long for what someone else has on paper. The truth is, the people who appear the happiest are often the most miserable but that never makes me feel any better.

    And she is just some girl who made you feel shitty some 20 years ago.

    But I get it…it is the same reason I refuse to go to my reunion. I can’t stand that people will be judging the paper version of my life. That, and I doubt any of the people I was “friends” with will attend.

  29. Ack! I totally had a friend/nemesis like that. Only she wasn’t tall and thin, she was normal/heavier and not terribly popular. why oh why were we friends with these cretins? I’ve actually googled her but nothing showed up, she’s that much of a loser.
    Regardless of how successful or unsuccessful people have become, it so doesn’t matter one iota to you or your life.

  30. Amen!

    I have recently reconnected with an old high school friend. We didn’t have the type of relationship you describe in your post (though I am familiar and have had my own)…only now am I realizing that part of the reason I have avoided contact with old high school classmates is that I’m hung up on the childish dynamics. So I’ve been working on not continuing that thought process and trying not to compare myself to other people. It’s not fair, in either direction.

  31. If you hadn’t written that last paragraph, I would’ve taken a flight straight to Seattle with my can of whoop-ass in my purse. I’m glad you get it. And have reminded all of us, too!

  32. Hell, sometimes I compare myself to other bloggers who I’ve never even met. It’s kind of a natural inclination (maybe moreso with females?).

    Junior high/middle school girls are THE WORST. I had catty friends who dropped me out of the blue and made me miserable. For that reason I am amazed that adults CHOOSE to work in that setting.

  33. Have you been reading my mind again?

    I’v been doing a lot of comparing lately. It doesn’t do me any good. Especially with the All Around Adorable Soule Mama lady who is so crafty and homeschools and who is having another sweet baby and, and, and…

    I had one of those Jr. High experiences too, with the totally fucked up popular friend, but the girl ended up becoming a total idiot ass as a grown up.

    Someone once said, and I believe it: There will always be someone prettier than you, and someone less pretty. And, there will always be someone smarter than you, and someone less smart.

    Besides, that chick will be long divorced and decrepit by the time you’re in a fabulous and healthy marriage based on REAL things, and REAL feelings, and REAL people.

    In my humble opinion.

  34. hon, don’t compare your insides to her outsides. i know for myself, when i seemed at the top of the world, i was spinning out of control – you have no idea what goes on behind her closed door!!

    when i get jealous, this is how i calm myself down : )

  35. This is so true. And yet we all do it. We all compare ourselves. I am simultaneously motivated by and bitterly jealous of people who lose 200 pounds in a year, for example. Even though I KNOW that’s unhealthy, and if I lost 200 pounds I would be DEAD. I’m STILL bitter.

  36. It’s hard not to do, isn’t it? You put it so well though, we can only compare against our own dreams and expectations. I need to remember that.

  37. My nemesis in junior high was a boy named Jeb Hall. He was a dick, and had an older brother that was a dick, but of course I secretly dreamed that he’d ask me to all the dances, and that I could kiss him one day.

    *sigh!* At least my girlfriends seemed to like me back then. I may have been ugly and fat, but I had friends.

    Jeb Hall can still suck it for the way he treated me and the things he said. Asshole.

  38. For people like that, their life is their own reward. And I believe that Karma is a bitch, so she’d better watch out.

    I have to say that being married isn’t always a great thing, seriously. Working in fashion is like swimming in a tank of sharks with a cut on your leg. Usually, people in that field advance, not by their brains, but by who they blow. And don’t forget that what is portrayed in the press is only what they want you to see. In other words, look past the gloss and you will probably see a hollow, miserable woman that would kill to eat that sandwich that you had for lunch.

    On the other hand, you are doing a noble thing working for a non-profit. You touch everyone daily with your writing. And fuck it if curves aren’t sexy, my plus size Sista! ๐Ÿ˜€ Hang in there.

  39. this made me think of a mutual friend we have… i won’t name here… but she was always thin & cute & pretty & the boys liked her more than me…she was headed to college, had traveled to europe alot, knew her goals in life, had great parents and family…

    from the outside it seemed she had it all

    but inside, she was insecure, full of anxiety & had panic attacks, suffered with bulimia, and for a long period of time a controlling boyfriend who alienated her from all her friends over the years…and she continued to repeat the behavior up until a few years ago…

    so…i hear you, sista

  40. This is a great post, but I would go one step further and say that I also try not to be too concerned about where I am in relationship to my own dreams as well. Sometimes Life takes us on roads we never planned to travel and we must be kind to ourselves when we don’t realize our dreams as quickly as we hoped. I have been an artist for 40 years and I still have not “made it”,I could consider myself a failure, but I think just doing the work is it’s own success. :-). You are a wonderful person and if your “friend”
    is still a bitch, she is the real loser, but perhaps she has grown up and it nicer now…

  41. If you look you’ll often think that the grass is indeed greener. But the true test is not to measure yourself against anyone else, it’s to think if you’re happy. If you’re happy, you’re golden. You’ve already “won”.

    Your last paragraph had me nodding my head enthusiastically.

  42. Um, why would you feel bad about Googling that chick? You were just curious. I do the same thing all the time. I’m dying to know what the IT girl from my school is up to. She skipped the reunion, which makes me think she blew up like Suzanne Sugarbaker. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
    Anyway, if you didn’t know she was a fashion designer already then, guess what? She’s not all that successful.

  43. ditto on everyone else’s post and yours as well – i know first hand how easy it is to compare myself to others… she has kids, i don’t… she’s married, i’m not… she’s got big boobs, i don’t… but what’s kept me sane (as i get older) is that i KNOW everyone has ‘issues’… and though they may seem perfect on the outside, guaranteed they’re miserable about something on the inside… is that twisted or what?! ;o)

    p.s. i’m jealous that you get over 50+ comments! ;o)

  44. OMG, she sounds like my old nemesis! I could go on and on, tell you how she dated the guy I crushed on, upstaged me the night I got engaged, was a model in NY, showed up on an MTV show about romance years later when I was going through divorce…

    Then my mother told me *just today* some lurid gossip about her and the hush money she is receiving from a man who impregnated her…

    But like you said, life’s not a contest…

    Still, (20 years later) the news did make me smile just the same.

  45. I think I spend far too much of my time comparing myself to others. For awhile I was stressed out that my entire high school posse is now married (except me). Suddenly my healthy relationship didn’t seem enough to make me happy because there was obviously some defect. Why wasn’t *I* married already? Sometimes I have to remind myself to live my own life.

  46. “. . . but we shouldnโ€™t be measuring success and happiness against other people or the version of other people they show the world. The best litmus test for personal success is to measure ourselves against our own dreams and desires.”

    Smartest thing I’ve read in so long I can’t remember! Fabulous post.

    Mayberry Magpie

  47. Right on.

    I think I’ve finally separated my view of my own life [and worth] with my view of those of others’. Now if I could only get that first part to be good more often, that would be swell.

  48. It’s often amazing to me how “Great” someone’s life seems until you find out that under the shiny (or thin) veneer are the same piles of crap that coat everyone’s life in one way or the other.

  49. As someone who is finding a lot of her old schoolmates on facebook.com I really enjoyed this post. Next year will be our 25th High School graduation and I hope I will go knowing I have done all I can to make this the life I wanted and am happy with ๐Ÿ™‚ Because I am.

  50. This was an amazing post.

    Other people’s lives may seem amazing from the outside but totally different once you scrape a layer off.

    Be proud of how honest and open you are in yours. You have by far surpassed that “girl who was a bitch to me 20+ years ago”.

  51. that is it.
    you are getting a spanking.
    i mean it.
    i am hopping on a plane.
    coming there.
    and spanking your ass.
    and no not for thinking bad thoughts for a nemesis …

    … for forgetting what an amazing person you are and always putting yourself down.

    … now stop that!

  52. Right sizzle! It is hard not to compare ourselves to others when they seem to have the perfect life. But, what I’ve learned is a lot of those perfect lives people…well they aren’t so very happy at all. They may have it all, the money, the fame or whatever but they may not be happy at home. Ok, maybe that didn’t make ya feel better.
    What a b$tch of a girl….sorry she could hurt you like that. There is always someone like that in our lives in the past.

  53. I agree with everything you said, not measuring your accomplishments against someone else’s, etc. but…I’m sure she’s still a bitch. Because da’ bitches, they never change. They just change targets.

    So, I will take pleasure in the hypothetical misery I’ve created for her (who does she think she is to treat my Sizzle that way!?) and take the karmic retribution off your hands.

  54. Damn you get a lot of comments. I bet she doesn’t have that many friends.

    I’m glad you wrapped that up the way you did. You’re a great person Siz, you don’t have to measure up to anyone. I’ve met you. I know.

  55. Urgh girls are just horrid. Girls in school are the worst of the worst. All mine ditched me when I got sick. Lovely people.

    You’re very brave for having googled her I’ve always resisted the urge. I prefer the saying: “What I don’t know can’t hurt me”. You’re very, very right though. We should definitely not judge our own lives by other people’s. It’s so easy to do, though, isn’t it? And usually completely out of my control.

  56. In school, I to had a girl that I secretly wanted to be. She was popular, pretty, skinny. I was fat and not popular. She never picked on me, but then again, I wasn’t ever BFF’s with her either. I never really spoke to her. Even after highschool, I saw her one day at a technical school near our city. I casually said hi, she said hey back. For some reason, I keep up with her on myspace. She’s married. I’m not. She has a beautiful baby girl. I don’t have any kids. She seems to be happy. Well… I’m happy too. So who cares.
    I’m assuming you are happy, especially with Fella, ๐Ÿ˜‰ He’s a hottie! So bitch fake friends or not… People can be happy! HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY!
    ๐Ÿ™‚ Peace out!

  57. Amen to that! There is something about high school that still gives me chills of anxiety to this day. UGH!
    Thanks for this post! This is a great reminder for me not to curl up, react or choke when I start playing the comparing game. AMEN!

  58. I’m lucky in that I stopped wanting to be someone else while I was *in* high school. I found gold that year because it’s helped pay for my happiness in life since then.

  59. High school was the worst! You couldn’t pay me to go back to that crap.
    I love this post – everyone is unique and we just all need to learn to embrace ourselves and learn to love who we are. Love your blog!

  60. >The best litmus test for personal success is to measure ourselves against our own dreams and desires.

    Amen to that! Funny, I’ve joined Facebook and have been finding and “friending” all kinds of former classmates who never would’ve dreamed of being friends with me back in junior high or high school. Some are married, some not, some have kids, some don’t, some have great careers, some don’t. It’s been good for me to see how they turned out: just as regular, normal people. They don’t have this huge power over me any more. If only I’d known back in high school that they never really did!

  61. It’s always hard when someone actually has the things that you might want. But you’re right, even though she might look awesome on the surface, you never know what else she might be going through.

    Junior high was my really awkward time b/c I was changing and had crappy clothes/bad hair b/c my dad and step-mom were broke. I’ve always had friends that were prettier than me, the ones that the guys were always drawn to first. Fortunately, Ted saw me at a party where I was standing all by myself at that moment ๐Ÿ™‚

  62. A very interesting post. My best day at school was my last one. I remember my best friend finding another cooler girl to be friends with, so she hung round with her at lunchtime, and I had no choice to go for lunch by myself! But, thankfully, when you leave school you have more choice.
    I think your nememsis won’t have changed much and if she was that horrible then, she probably is now. It’s funny – one of my friends was picked on by a girl at school quite badly, by a girl who is now a well known fashion designer.
    And you never really know what people’s inner lives are like.

  63. In a way, you reached out to her by Googing her perhaps to test where you are today. In the fashion industry I would not doubt she has had a huge amount heaped on her, what she gave out in her teens…outflows of her fatal flaw. But it appears she’s still standing. So not matter when in life, at some point you are going to be it. We move on when we embrace ourselves and others understanding mistakes are made, and trying to figure out the “why” of it is a big waste of time. If you think of unhappy things, you become unhappy. You are beautiful, thats all you need to know. Thank you for your honest and heartfelt post.

  64. Amen. How the hell do you google people like that? I’ve tried before and it doesn’t work as greatly for me. Maybe because the people I’ve looked up have disappeared off the fact of the earth?

    I googled myself once, and the first thing that pops up is a HORRIBLE picture of me, where I have the flu and am all sweaty from having run about 10 blocks.

    I hope nobody googles me. Ever.

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