Writing and Signing a Non-Compete Clause
I watched Oprah today - a show on motherhood. I saw someone I know on the show, which was great for her! And she was wearing jewelry made by someone else I know, which was great for her!
One of the main points of the show was the ways in which moms hurt ourselves and one another with our constant comparisons. Whose children are happier, cuter, smarter? Whose outfits are cutest, most expensive, least expensive, and worn by the most siblings? Whose photos and scrapbooks and Christmas photos and family letters are most clever or funny or interesting or boastful about our families? And the list goes on and on.
As I watched, I wondered what Karen had that I don't have - why couldn't I be on the show? I wondered what Andrea had that I don't have - why couldn't someone have been wearing jewelry I have made? As I watched the show, I realized how often I have allowed myself to get caught up in the comparison/competition thing! Then I realized that all those jealous, self-critical, snarky thoughts were stupid - and I stopped myself in my tracks and quickly wrote to both of them (leaving comments on their blogs) and congratulated them on their work and wisdom and creativity. And I realized that the entire thought process I had gone through as I watched the show was exactly the point of the show: listen to one another's stories. enjoy one another's successes. share one another's burdens. be-friend one another. be real. be honest. be true. just be me. let them be them. let go of the urge to compete, compare, and be contrary.
So I pulled out my journal and began to compose "a non-compete clause" that I hope to incorporate into my life. Here's what I have come up with so far:
I am committing myself to not compete with -
* other mothers
* other wives
* other daughters or daughters-in-law
* other sisters or sisters-in-law
* other homeschoolers
* other churchgoers
* other teachers
* other homemakers
* other travelers
* other writers
* other women in general
I am committing myself to not compete with others based on their:
* religion or lack thereof
* height, weight, muscularity, fitness level
* skin color, ethnic or cultural background
* hair style or lack thereof
* first, second, or third language
* colorful language
* shoes, clothes, accessories
* blog or website
* photographs or artwork
* artistic ability or lack thereof
* intellectual or educational background
* career choices
* income or apparent wealth
* house or neighborhood
* car or lack thereof
* parenting or educational choices
* children: behavior, ability, grades, athleticism
* spouse or ex-spouse or future spouse
* political persuasion or lack thereof
Even as I make this list and add to it, I already find myself comparing and competing: Will I be as good at giving up my prejudices and competition as _______ is? Will I be better than _______ because he/she is _________? That's what I'm already thinking, and I haven't even finished writing the blog post.
I am being made painfully aware of how ingrained competition and comparison are to my psyche. It's going to be a challenge to free myself from my immediate urge to compare and contrast and compete. What I hope and pray is that, by raising my awareness of this problem, I will be able to make strides in towards freedom from constant competition.
It's not that I expect to stop noticing the differences. I will never stop noticing the differences. I don't even want to stop noticing the differences between us as women and mothers and family members and people in every category of life. What I want to stop doing is assigning unmerited value to those differences in an effort to either put myself on a pedestal far above others or put others on pedestals far above myself.
With all that in mind, I hereby declare that I am entering into a non-compete contract with myself and those around me.
I hereby declare that I will try to stop telling a story about myself in an attempt to outshine your story.
I hereby declare that I will try to stop berating myself for any and all of my faults in an attempt to elevate others and their skills, but that I will accept and embrace my messy, sticky, stuck, beautiful, wide-open, wonder-filled life - just as it is right now.
I hereby declare that I will attempt to listen to you speak without cutting you off in an attempt to impress you with who I think I am and what I think I know.
I hereby declare that I will try desperately not to compete with you for attention, time, energy, pity, or the urge to be right.
I hereby declare that I will breach this contract very soon, that I will mess this up very often, that I will forget what I am writing here and will be snippy and snappy and mean in how I talk to and about other people at some point in the not-so-distant future, so I ask for forgiveness in advance.
I hereby declare that I am turning off my computer and going to bed.