I was driving in Vermont recently watching the snow fall outside my window and thinking about the miracle that each snowflake presents to us. Each one of billions different from the next. Each uniquely beautiful, intricate, perfect in its own way. Then I imagined one snowflake seeing another and feeling less than – not good enough in some way. Longing to look and feel exactly like the other. Melting itself down to alter its angles, lose some crystals, reduce its water content and change its texture until it looked and felt exactly like the one it thought was better. A profound sadness washed over me imagining that snowflake would never realize it was perfect all along and would be lost forever. And there would never be another one like it.
“Everything is perfect until we compare it to something else.”
That was lingering in the back of my mind when I watched those snowflakes fall. I realized in that moment that the source of so much of my anxiety, fear and shame through the years can be directly linked to comparing myself to others.
Value is defined as “the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.” I’ve learned the hard way that when I look outside of myself to determine what my value is or to answer the question “Am I enough?”, I am playing a harmful, unwinnable game of comparison.
Like snowflakes, we are all created with a divine individuality. We lose sight of that when we compare ourselves to others and allow our ego to take over and talk us into a senseless competition. Instead of celebrating and cultivating what makes us unique, we critique and discourage it. Psychiatrists describe this constant comparison as “monkey brain.” This type of behavior is common among primates, even chickens. But only humans have the level of consciousness to see what we are doing, realize its destructive nature and change our behavior.
But it takes practice because we are taught to compare ourselves from a very young age. And the ego grows stronger as it perpetuates itself. So those grooves are deeply cut and difficult to redirect.
For years, rather than see myself as a diamond, celebrating the unique facets that reflect and shine my light, I filed them down to a smooth, perfectly dull surface that reflected only insecurity. I didn’t realize I was stripping away the interesting, covering up the scars that told my story and sanitizing my journey. By chasing after images of perfection and illusions of happiness that I saw outside of myself, in a desire to be “enough” and therefore worthy of love, I lost myself. I lost myself in a sea of snowflakes. That was the price of admission. After comparing myself to outside influences to become the best version of myself, I was disillusioned and disconnected.
It is only when I found the courage to step out and crack my heart open, expose what felt like weaknesses, bleed my story onto the page, and shine a light on my dark places… only when I was brave enough to see my differences as gifts and my individuality as divine, did I finally find real connection and feel true love. Connection and love based on anything else is fleeting at best.
Now I meditate on that snowflake and see every crystal as a part of me reflecting how I have grown and been affected over time by my unique journey. Each branch representing the paths I have taken, not all connected to each other necessarily, but connected by the center, by me. A perfect web of interlaced experiences reflected by a beautiful, divinely unique creature. There can be no comparing what is authentic. In that, there is no judgment. There is no better or worse, strong or weak, pretty or ugly, there is only different.