I do my level best not to compare myself to others, but there are moments when I’m innocently scrolling through my Facebook or Twitter feed (i.e. procrastinating) when it suddenly hits me: there are some seriously accomplished individuals out there. Often far younger than me, these folks are on best-seller lists and have traveled the globe. They have started organizations and been on television.
They have houses that look like Martha Stewart lives there–and they bake their own bread, too.
In the roughly twenty seconds it takes to realize I will never be like them—especially the bread-baking part– the bottom drops out of my self-esteem and the doubt gremlins rush in with their familiar whispers. You know the gremlins, right? They use the sharp teeth of self-doubt to make you wonder why you waste your time chasing a dream, or trying to make a difference, or even getting out of bed.
I’ve learned to combat these pesky joy-stealers by taking a deep breath and remembering that my job is to be the best me I can be. It’ll never be my job to be somebody else. And that path I’m on? It’s the one designed for me. Only I can walk it. Only I can write the stories I’m given to write. Only I have the particular relationships and spheres of influence I’ve been given.
The same is true for you.
I also seek out stories of others who have fought—and won—against these same doubt gremlins. I recently read a book by Avis Goodhart called, Out of the Dust: Story of an Unlikely Missionary. Now this is a lady who knows how to keep going. She survived a childhood that made me cry and has faced challenges that clenched my heart in sympathy. Then, at the age of 50, after the effects of Bell’s palsy cost Avis her teaching job, she went on her first mission trip. Since then she has started an orphanage, a church AND a school in Peru. This from someone who has also battled dyslexia her whole life. Her courage and determination blew me away. But it is this piece of advice I have taken to heart: “Don’t waste your pain.” Instead of allowing our weaknesses to hold us back, use them as fuel to keep going.
If you ever worry you are not enough—or think you have too much baggage to make a difference—I encourage you to read Avis’ story. Out of the Dust is available in print and online. (Simply click the link). Proceeds from the sale of this book are sent to Avis’ orphanage in Peru.
Our job is not to compare, because there will always be others far ahead of us.
Our job is to keep going, keep moving toward our dreams, and keep doing what we’ve been given to do.
And as we’re moving forward, it’s perfectly okay to give those doubt gremlins a swift kick as we pass by.