A while back, we are having our date, just like normal – nothing fancy, nothing frilly – but as we are heading back home, we noticed this long line of cars stopped up ahead, like a complete standstill. We saw cop cars and flashing lights, but we couldn’t figure out why everything was so backed up. Lanes were open, nothing major seemed to be happening, but nobody was moving forward.
Turns out, there had been a fender bender a little earlier. You couldn’t really even tell any damage had been done, so…why the traffic? Why wasn’t everyone just driving through like normal?
And then we noticed something: every driver had been slowing down so they could look over their shoulder and see what was going on over there. Every single driver needed to get the low-down on what was going on in the other lane.
And as they paid attention to everybody else, their own car stopped accelerating. Their own car stopped driving. Their own car stopped going places.
Stay in your own lane.
How often do we act like this in our daily life? How often do we look over our shoulder to see what the person next to us is doing? How often do we let somebody else’s successes or failures or happiness or heartaches stop us from seeing the road stretched out ahead of us?
I mean, it’s pretty often if we’re being honest.
Stop looking at your neighbor’s marriage. Stop looking at your friend’s career. Stop looking at the way that girl over there handles her business, how quickly her child is learning in school, her family, her fancy dinners, her workout schedule, her involvement in the Junior League’s charity auction, her weight loss, her new Louis Vuitton and using it as a gauge to evaluate your own personal success.
Stay in your own lane.
Keep your eyes on your own road.
Keep focusing on where you are going.
Her journey is not your journey. Her destination is somewhere completely different than yours. And her drive has nothing to do with yours.
Comparison isn’t only the thief of joy, it’s also the first step towards insecurity, and insecurity is the thief of just about everything: your self-worth, your self-image, your relationships, your marriage, the way your children learn to value themselves.
Comparison is also the one sure way to stop yourself from moving forward, from moving anywhere really.
Just drive in your own car, honey. Full speed ahead.
A version of this piece originally appeared on TODAY Parenting, published with permission.