Getting a daughter through the teenage years is not for the faint of heart. I guess what I see in her, of her, about her, she does not see of herself, in herself, nor about herself. Driving to and from the studio five days a week, we have lots of time to talk – if she doesn’t fall asleep, which happens more often than not. But the same day I got that amazing text from my Daddy, the Princess said she compares herself all the time, and then believes she isn’t good at anything. Punch. In. The. Gut. Thank you very much.
Now, she lives in the dance world. There is all kinds of opportunity for her to be judged, watched, and compared. I don’t compare her to the other girls. When I’m watching her classes or watching her perform, she’s the only one I see clearly. I’m not really paying attention to her classmates. And I shared this with her, because I want her to focus on herself in class, what she’s doing, what she needs to do to build her skills and improve. But she compares herself. Is this just an inner thing born in all females? Do guys compare themselves too? She says she compares herself, and decides she won’t ever be as good as anyone else. She is sure she is going to fail. This came up as she has a competition in a couple of weeks in which she will perform her contemporary solo for the last time, and isn’t exactly feeling great about the prospect.
I will admit, I compare myself a lot to those around me, on pretty much everything there might be to compare. I’ve come a long way, but it’s still an inner-voice conversation that goes on. Running and yoga have actually helped a ton with this. It’s given me better perspective, and helped me realize life isn’t a race against everyone else. I’m only “racing” against myself. There’s always going to be someone out there who’s better than me at anything and everything I take on. That’s just the nature of the beast. But then there are things that I’m better at than the person next to me. We all have our strengths.
I told her about one of the races I ran recently, in which I was passed by a 73 year old man. That guy whizzed right by me, and it seemed he wasn’t really even breathing hard nor struggling the way I was at mile 7. I did not think to myself, “Wow, I just got passed by a 73 year old man. I may as well just give up. He’s better than me. I’m a failure at this running thing.” BTW – how did I know he was 73? His shirt told me, on the back no less. Anyways, my thought when I was left in his wake was, “Go, you 73 year old man! You rock, and I wanna be you when I grow up!” I kept running, and finished the race, which was my only goal the entire time.
I told her about the best friend I had from seventh grade all the way through high school. That girl was amazing – brilliant, funny, the most amazing flute player, generous, giving, encouraging, sure of herself and who she was. She was better than I at pretty much everything. It never bothered me. We cheered each other on. Being her friend made me want to do better, be better. Being her friend strengthened me and helped me grow. I didn’t compare myself to her and decide it wasn’t worth even trying. I focused on my own self and worked on my own self. That isn’t failure in any way.
The Princess and I talked about this for a good ten minutes. I know it’s something we will have to revisit. I told her what and who I see – not someone who doesn’t rate, but a girl with a huge heart, a more-than-capable brain, someone who stands up for what’s right, who defends not only her friends but anyone who needs defending, who is loyal, who works hard, a responsible girl who gives so much to everyone around her, and someone who also happens to be a beautiful dancer in her own right. Would that we could all see ourselves through the eyes of someone who loves us so much.