Comparison Is The Thief of Joy

Can't take credit for that…Teddy Roosevelt said it. :)

One of my main reasons for starting this blog is that, in the last year, my views on life have changed pretty significantly. I've developed a hefty love affair with climbing, and the climbing community and all it has to offer has completely changed what I want in my life. If you know me, then you know I am a pretty type-A personality (okay, very type-A). I'm a goal-driven, success-seeking, perfectionist, plan-everything-out-way-ahead-of-time person that loves to be busy and go, go go. For the most part, that hasn't changed.

But, a lot has. I moved to DC in 2010 to pursue a Master's in International Affairs and Foreign Policy, which I did. I got great grades, defended a thesis that was later published, and graduated. I thought I wanted to work in the intelligence community, 70 hours a week, wear a suit and have a powerful, big-shot job. And I tried really hard to get that job. And I couldn't. My husband graduated from law school and also couldn't find that dream job. (I mean, I found a job…but not the glamorous, thrill-seeking intense one I thought I wanted. Seth also found a job, but again….nothing like we ever thought either of us would find.) I wanted that big house, that nice car, that big-sunglasses-carrying-my-mocha-latte-in-my-heels-and-suit-downtown kind of life. Or at least, I thought I wanted that.

I was so down on us and our life, and looking at others and saying, "Why don't we have what they have?" "Why aren't we where they are?" It didn't help that I had others in my life doing the same thing - focusing on money, and careers, and homes, and achievement, always living in the future. And, comparing themselves to me. Always competing, always trying to stay ahead of where we were, anticipating our every action, always wanting more, more, more, now, now, now. Perfection and belongings, material goods, the perfect body. And guys…it totally rubbed off on me. It made me not only feel competitive with those people, but with everyone else in my life. And it made less than no sense. I was putting pressure on myself and my husband for no reason, and it was making me unhappy.

Then I found climbing. Climbers are simple. They are organic, salt-of-the-earth, live-in-the-moment, experience-all-the-things, happy-go-lucky, kind-hearted, down-to-earth people. My people. The people I needed so badly when I found them. Finding climbing and its community of sweet angels completely changed my life. I went to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky in May of last year (2014) and I remember standing under this classic route called Pure Imagination and just having this massive revelation like, "Holy shit, I'm wasting my entire life."

Jeremy Eskin on Pure Imagination, 5.14d, Red River Gorge, May 24, 2014
That's when I sort of changed my views on….well, everything. I quit putting pressure on myself to get that powerful job (which seriously….who wants that crap, the pressure and demands? How awful that would have been!) and starting counting my blessings that 1) I had a job at all and that 2) I had a job that was easy, with very predictable hours, generally understanding and kind bosses and great coworkers that allowed me to pursue my climbing career. I quit focusing on how much money we had, and the fact that we didn't have that big house at 26 & 27. And the biggest change was that I quit looking at what other people were doing, and quit maintaining relationships with people I felt were trying to keep an eye on what I was doing so they could keep ahead of me. Because really. Who cares? It may have become a douchey meme, but "you only live once" makes a lot of sense to me. Why spend your entire life focused on material belongings and competing with others when there is so much to experience, and so much love to be had?

I'm trying to live every day for the experience of that day. We travel. I compete. My friends are awesome, supportive, laid back and kind, and have no interest whatsoever in my job or my money. That is such a breath of fresh air. I'm so happy, and I love our life just the way it is right now. I'm in no hurry to get anywhere. I still have dreams for our future, of course (because duh, I'm still me)…but that's another story to be told another time.


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