"It isn't a race, Sissy!"
"Last one upstairs is a rotten egg!"
"Last is best!"
"It isn't a competition!"
Direct quotes from my Milkmaids. Daily. Seriously. All. The. Time. They are 6 years apart. They each have their own advantages and disadvantages. And there is always a competition.
It plagues us in life, competition, I mean. As children, as teens, as adults we are bombarded with comparisons.
For men (ahem...boys), it is usually about who is stronger, who is bigger, who runs faster, who can kick the ball further, who can work harder and who can eat the most pizza (drink the most beer.) I'm not saying men don't have any competitive issues, I'm saying they usually have a healthy idea of what competition is all about and live accordingly.
For women, lawd help us. Women are in always in some kind of unspoken competition, with their friends, their peers, women they don't know and ones they will never meet. We need to be skinnier, prettier, more successful, less feminine. We need to be stronger, able to do whatever a man can do. We need to wear the right clothes, say the right things, know everything about raising children, and master the Pinterest. The WHOLE Pinterest: the workouts, the food, the drinks, the crafts, the costumes, and make sure our kids can read by 3. Not only do we feel the need to succeed at everything, we are pressured to feel like "less" when it appears that someone can do more, or do something better. We are supposed to wrinkle our noses and be a bit catty when Pinterest Mom shows up at the school party with handmade Valentine's cards, a meat & cheese tray, a fruit & vegetable tray, balloons, crafts, songs, dances, games, homemade punch, and perfect gift bags for everyone.
Yeah, I don't like her either. (Visualize: me with a wrinkled nose and a huge eye roll. Deep breath.)
I'm doing good to get the juice pouches, store bought cupcakes, and the candy (no peanuts, oh crap I bought Reese's) in the cheesy dollar store goodie bags, and get to school on time. I'm NOT Pinterest Mom.
I am also not the do-it-all mom, the skinny lady, the fancy clothes lady, the hair fixed lady, and sometimes I'm not even the makeup on lady. I am a hot mess about 98% of the time. The other 2% is dumb luck and small blessings.
I am proud of who I am. I have good kids. I have an amazing, hard working husband. We have a great family, fantastic friends, and a support system that knows no limits. I know Jesus. We have a farm that allows us some freedoms, but also keeps us very grounded. I am blessed beyond measure. (Thank You, Jesus!) And with all of that, I still have moments where I get wrapped up in what I am not.
When I went to AgChat in December there was a panel of women that are active on social media. The title of the segment was, "Issues In AgVocacy." The panel included: Leah Beyer (Leah Beyer & @beyerbeware), Krista Stauffer (The Farmers Wifee), Cristen Clark (Food & Swine), and Chef Alli (Chef Alli). Y'all, this panel was so good. The whole group made great points. They all seemed passionate about the need for us to all work together. It isn't a competition. We each have something valuable to offer. We all need to use our voices and stick together. Then Leah Beyer said something that I will never forget.
"Your success doesn't tarnish my success."
Did you hear that?
DING-DING-DING! When I heard it, I swear something clicked.
"YOUR SUCCESS DOESN'T TARNISH MY SUCCESS."
I am not any less successful because someone has more followers, more likes, someone weighs less, someone dresses better, fixes their hair, puts on makeup, or is THE Pinterest mom. My value is not diminished because someone might fit the world's standards of "better."
That, y'all, is a freeing realization.
In social media, in AgVocating, in the workplace, on the farm, and in life, we all have a part to play. And our only competition should be with ourselves. We should strive to be better than the person we were yesterday.
We have to find a place to come together and stick together. We need to be proud of who we are and who someone else is also. Stop condemning someone's success or feeling like their success takes anything away from yours. The world is a mean place and we don't have to make it worse.
You are valuable. You are good enough. You aren't more or less based on anyone else. (She said into the mirror.)
Y'all, this doesn't stop me from wanting to hot glue Pinterest Mom's lips together. It doesn't stop my eyes from rolling into the back of my head when that Facebook post about how perfect life is, rolls through my newsfeed. I still have the "Bless your heart" feeling when I see someone trying so hard, they have 100 pounds of makeup on, hair closer to God, duck lips and chicken wings in their pictures. Probably those feelings won't ever go away, but I know my only, my hardest competition is myself.
I want to teach my Milkmaids (myself and you as well) that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalms 139:14) I want them to know that we all have our own unique strengths and weaknesses. I will tell them that they are good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, successful enough because they are loved. They don't need likes, shares, or trophies to prove their worth.
They will still race up the stairs, and make fun of each other, they are sisters, but I will encourage them. I will teach them to be encouragers. Kindness matters and so does self worth.
We should all strive to be someone to be proud of. And humble enough to know that another person's success doesn't tarnish our own. The only person I need to be better than, is the one I was yesterday.