This spring I had the opportunity to see Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, twice. Once was at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. They had an enormous cast of twenty-eight with grand sets and heart-stopping special effects. It was powerful and moving. The second time I saw the production it was performed by Babes with Blade Theatre Company at the Raven Theatre. The set was sparse and the cast was a meager eleven women, barely enough for some of the scenes. Going into the second show I had low expectations for my experience after having just witness such an amazing spectacle, but I was surprised. The level of acting was equal. I cried at the same scenes. I was shaken just as much by the portrayal of hate and violence. The emotion and my experience were equal. There was no way the small theatre troupe could afford all that the larger company could, but they made the most of what they had. They were the best at who they are and it was just as effective.
So often we compare ourselves to others. We judge our ability and success based on what those around us are doing. We look to the people at the top of their game and we think that if we are not equal to them that we have failed. The other day I was speaking to an actor friend who was putting himself down because he was focusing on the roles his friends were getting. What he was not looking at, were all of the shows he had been in the past. He felt he was falling short because his career did not mirror those around him. What he was not seeing were all of his own personal accomplishments.
Other times we judge ourselves by those who we determine have it “right.” Perhaps it is a stay-at-home mom who sees herself as a failure because she is not a CEO. Or perhaps it is a successful businessman who feels he has failed because he can not run a marathon. Again, we are comparing ourselves to others. To find peace and to become the best person we are meant to be, it is important to focus on our specific unique path and purpose, not someone else’s.
Comparison leads to pain. We are not someone else. We do not have their ability. We have not had their experiences. We are not on their path. We are not meant to achieve what they are. When we look at others to judge our success, we will often come short. We think we have failed. But the truth is we have only failed to accept our own truth.
Take a good look at yourself and your life. What are you drawn to do? What do you excel at? What do you enjoy doing? What does your life revolve around? These are the areas for you to work and excel at. Be the best YOU you can be. We do not all have the same destiny. No path or purpose is more important than another. If you aren’t meant to be a highway then just be a trail. Make the most of who you are.
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