I’ve been ripped off many a-time. Once, I paid my electricity bill in a local post office, pre internet banking, and it never reached my account. Disappeared. No trace, Narcos style. I had to pay the whole bill again. Needless to say, I’ve felt nervous of post office banking since.
Another time I was busting a gut with excitement about a trip to Slane. Turns out, paying near €100 to see Madonna live also tops the list of one of the biggest rip offs ever!
But, actually, the one thing that tops the list for me. Which has eaten so many hours. Actually when I think about it, I spent my twenties revelling in it. Comparison. Comparing myself to other people; their experiences, their Facebook highlights (minus actual facebook, but you know what I mean, please don’t make me mention that social media didn’t exist then! Eeeek, I feel auld!!)
Comparison is the biggest rip off, because it robs so much joy in the here and now. And sure, I can’t be anyone other then I am, so this way of thinking just adds suffering and encourages a skewed self image. As a result, I sought comfort in many a late night chinese takeaway, which led to a wardrobe of clothes ranging from sizes 10 to 16. Eeeek!
Now, I say this in past tense because, by and large, with a few slip ups, I just try not to do it anymore.The comparisons I mean, still loving the late night chinese to be fair.
I think age, life experience and the realisation that it does you no good whatsoever has a lot to do with letting go. I have a little word with myself and remind myself, in the words of Dr Seuss, “there’s no one you-er than you”. And sure isn’t that just great, all’s well and good in the world. The end.
Except my 8 year old daughter Millie has come down with a serious dose of the comparisons. And this is on a whole new level. She talks about the clothes and brands she’s seen on other people; River Island clothes, Jojo bows, Black polo necks (don’t know where this particular fashion fascination came from, maybe it’s the beat writers I’ve been talking to her about?)
So I’ve tried to explain the Dr Seuss quote and how comparison kills joy (in retrospect, might have been a bit heavy handed for an 8 year old). Finally, I come to the closing line of my mama sermon, and I think for a second that this mighty speech may work. I deliver the final line – ‘Millie, it’s best to just be an original, be yourself – a leader, not a follower’. A pause. She smiles.
This is it. I’ve broken the cycle! Peer pressure, social media and Kylie Jenner have nothing on me. She respects my opinions and hears me – her wise and beloved mother. And haven’t I raised such a smart, bright wonderful young girl that can truly comprehend the power of consumerism and materialism and overcome it. Pat on the backs all round. Smug as Kimye.
Until she looks up at me and says, “Brilliant Mam- you’re so right, that black polo neck that Julie has is sooooooooooooo me! Let’s stop off and pick one up in Penney’s before we get that backpack in River Island I showed you on Insta?”
Hashtag epic fail.
She’s doing exactly what I was doing, what we all do. I’m just seeing it in its infancy through her young eyes. She’s creating herself and beginning to explore her world. Whether we’re 8, 38 or 58, we’re all subscribing to a tribe; by the music we listen to, the clothes we wear, with whom and how we spend our time and money. I realised in that moment that just because I’m older, doesn’t mean I’ve stopped. I’d just forgotten the mechanics of it. Sure, I still want to dress like Jo Whiley during Glastonbury season. She is my style port of call – when in rag order I ask, what would Jo do? And I’m good to go!
So this is my plan; I’m going to be less judgemental of Millie’s fashion choices, let her mould her own style, settle into her own skin and watch her grow into her very own person and hope she finds a rocking, supportive tribe all of her own!