No two people are exactly alike. Not identical twins. Not best friends. Not mothers and daughters.
No matter how similar we might be to someone in some areas, we are drastically different in at least one other area.
I find other people endlessly fascinating. Why do they do the things they do? Say the things they say? Think the way they think?
I have spent a lot of time with myself. Like, a lot.
I’m not wholly uninterested in myself. I still surprise myself from time to time.
Why the heck did I do that?!
But, in general, I’m pretty used to myself.
I was recently listening to the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast. It is co-hosted by Gretchen and her sister, Elizabeth. At the end of each episode, they share what book they are reading. In this particular episode, Elizabeth shared what book she was reading, and Gretchen said she had just finished one book but hadn’t started another one yet.
I’d never heard this happen before and found myself shocked by her honesty.
Why didn’t she tell us what book she planned to start next? Wasn’t that how this went? They end the podcast by saying the name of two books?
I guess not.
She wasn’t actively reading a book and wasn’t bound by an external expectation. The gig wasn’t to share the name of two books at the end of the episode, it was to honestly say what you are (or, apparently, aren’t!) reading.
It was so simple. One little sentence. And yet, it struck a chord in me and reminded me both how much I deeply value honesty and authenticity and that I, too, am allowed to be fully honest, regardless of other people’s possible expectations.
Her honesty reminds me that I have the freedom to do the same when my own expectations and fear of others’ judgment might lead me to make a different choice.
It seems so simple on paper but feels quite complicated inside of me.
I have been reading Brene Brown’s new book Atlas of the Heart. In it, she writes about finding a box of items from her past: a lifeguard whistle, an old college paper, a mixtape she made. She mentions the car she used to drive, complete with year, make and model plus some fascinating bit about the floorboard being rusted through.
All in all, it is a passing comment. But I found these little details fascinating.
I was never a lifeguard. I gave my first car a name, but I didn’t bother with extraneous details.
The truth is, I’m impressed when women know things about cars.
I don’t. And I’m good with that.
I’m impressed with people who can swim well enough to be a lifeguard.
I can’t. I have a fear of drowning.
But these differences make these women interesting to me. It’s fascinating that they are interested in, and good at, things I’m not. Perhaps it makes them mysterious. Or makes me wish I was interesting in some similar way. But, I’m not. I’m just me.
When I see famous actors being interviewed and they are asked questions I know I wouldn’t have an answer for, I twist it and use it as proof that I could never be that level of actor because I’d be boring in an interview. I don’t know enough about other actors or plays or movies or whatever this one actor is talking about. I don’t have an interesting enough personal story. It’s all old news … well, at least to me.
I spend all day, every day with me, so nothing is new or unique about me.
While these examples include people with “names”, I can fall prey to the same dynamic with anyone. The random woman on the subway with a cool sense of style. The friend who loves going to the zoo. The endless quirks across the human race. I find them all fascinating.
Well, guess what?
The other day I was in the kitchen with my husband, Judah. We’d just gotten off the phone with a friend, and I was excited by a breakthrough our friend had during our phone call. I was recounting the ah-ha moment, using my full body. I was excited and did a silly gallop motion with my body as an expression of my excitement.
Judah was just standing there, watching. I looked at him and saw such love and adoration on his face. He said, “Your delight is adorable.”
I was caught up in the moment of celebrating our friend but was grounded by this comment. It caught me off-guard and allowed me to step outside myself, out of the moment, and see myself through his eyes. Where I typically might search for criticism or condescension in his comment, I focused in on the love.
He delights in me.
He thinks I’m adorable.
I didn’t plan the gallop through the kitchen. It was born out of the genuine joy within me that exploded out through my body. And he saw that. And loved it.
I bet Gretchen Rubin and Brene Brown aren’t galloping around their kitchens as an external burst of internal joy! But I am. I do. My body wiggles in all kinds of ways as a means of expressing what I feel inside. That’s how I do.
I’m quirky in my own ways. I don’t know the same niche information as other people. Their lives have shaped them into someone unique. Someone I find fascinating and intriguing.
And my life has done the same for me. I’m not so novel to myself. So when I compare, I come up short.
Literally, every other person on the planet is more interesting to me than me! And it may be the same for most of us.
Comparison is boring!
May we delight in ourselves. Relish what makes us unique. Heck, may we actually SEE what makes us unique … and then delight in it as a good friend or partner might.
We are all beautifully unique. No two people are the same. And there are a lot of people.
We have so much to learn from each other … AND from ourselves!
May we keep one eye focused outward and the other turned inward filled with love and curiosity. And delight!