Our neighborhood pool opened this past weekend. The kids wanted to go swimming; we went all three days of the long weekend.
As we got to the pool and started taking off the layers over our swimsuits the first day, I found myself comparing my body to everyone else and their extended family: I don’t look like that. I’ll never look like that. I look better than that. I used to look better. I should workout more.
On and on. My brain was back in middle school to college zone, looking around and thinking about how/what/who I should be.
It was interesting, kind of. Also annoying. I mean, come on. Aren’t I past this comparison shit? I know it never ends with me feeling better about myself (or kinder towards anyone else). There are no winners in my game of comparison. There is always someone seemingly better or worse, and then someone else better/worse, and then someone else better/worse…
As I was thinking about all of this, it struck me that I may always have a knee-jerk comparison moment or something similar, when I get in a body-conscious situation that triggers old stories. And maybe the point isn’t to try and make sure the reaction doesn’t come up (I’m not sure I can stop it anyway, at least at this point in my life). Maybe the point is to recognize it more and more quickly, seeing it for what it is (old fears, stories, and the like), and then hand-holding my brain over into thoughts that feel better and I know to be truer, like that I have a body and it works (really quite well).
I was also reminded that what I see in the mirror may or may not be totally accurate — I’m continuing to learn that what I see actually changes based on where my head’s at in any given moment (rather trippy, if I think about it). On the other people end, if I want to get into the space of wondering what they think about me, here’s a thing to keep in mind — I can never really know because I’m not in their head and their thoughts probably change as much as mine, based on where they are at. So to put energy and attention here — it’s probably a waste of my time.
As I was considering all of this, the comparison game played out and it got easier to quit focusing on my body or any other body. Enjoying being at the pool with little folks who were totally psyched to go swimming was certainly more fun than picking myself apart in some sort of unending masochistic (and unnecessary) competition where there are only, ultimately, losers.
So yeah, our neighborhood pool is open. Here’s to more learning and more swimming.