“Hey, I am going to steal your wallet now. See. I have my hands on it. Watch me take it.” —Said no robber ever.
It’s almost funny to think about, because it doesn’t happen. I thought about an announced robbery when I read these words: “Comparison is truly the thief of joy” and wrote them down. A student included them in a letter through Letters About Literature, a program where students write to authors about how their books made a personal impact. I run the state level of this national competition and get to read the top entries. I don’t remember to whom this kid wrote. However, this letter to a fiction author catalyzed this 6th grader’s wisdom:
“Comparison is truly the thief of joy.”
With those words, I remembered our house being robbed. I was five and the thief took our VHS player, with Disney’s Robin Hood inside. I idolized the foxy Maid Marian as one of my role models. It was devastating. I don’t recall what else was taken; I only remember our parents doing everything they could to help us feel comfortable. To do this, they downplayed the disturbing truth: that thief broke in while we were sleeping upstairs. We were in the house and we didn’t have a clue.
That’s the small moment of power the student’s letter offered: the realization that robberies take place without us even knowing. We don’t recognize a robbery, for the most part, until after it happens. Until we reach for what we need and it isn’t there. The thievery of joy isn’t an obvious fade.
Dare I even discuss social media comparisons? Snooze. I know. I even get bored thinking about another article addressing this topic. But let’s be real: this sly location for comparison seizes joy on the regular. An Instagram or Facebook post can create a self-deficit of sorts. Online, in person, and usually just in our minds…the comparisons are stealthy, sticky fingers. Often, we don’t realize their heist until the deed is done.
While there may not be any announcements of theft, there are triggers to know when comparison is slowly cracking into our happy source. I think about myself and the 2018 resolutions I discussed in Obvious Elevator. I mentioned my goal to eliminate the word “should” from my vocabulary. This helps because the main thief of my joy hides in shadows of timeline comparisons. Without even realizing it, I can easily shift into thinking, “Rebekah, what is taking you SO long? You should be married or traditionally published by now. Tick tock.”
*deep breath* That wasn’t easy for me to admit. However, I see power identifying those shadowy keys to our “comparison doors.” Vulnerable bravery brings them to light, claiming, “I’m on to you—you can’t steal my joy.”
What about you? What ways do you leave your doors unlocked for comparison to sneak in and leave with the loot before you are aware?
Your Brave Tutu (You’re brave, too-too!)
-Take courage in delight. Discover power in small moments.
P.S. For more delightful, wisdom gleaned from a student's letter to Emily Dickinson enjoy Feather Jacket.