During the second grade, my teacher, Ms. W., placed a foil star on an index card with each student’s name every time he or she earned a 100 on an assignment. She said at the end of the year, the student with the most stars would have dinner with her, whatever he or she wished to eat. Yours truly won! I remember being pleased and not liking the jealousy of my fellow classmates. While I adored Ms. W., being a shy child, I was nervous about eating dinner alone with her.
She lived in a small upstairs apartment of an old house. I was surprised to see a bedroom and kitchen comprising the same space; this space where I helped her make a pizza that came out of a box. Afterwards we walked a short ways and got ice cream. Overall, I enjoyed myself, forgot my anxiety, and felt quite special.
The problem with Ms. W’s index card with foil stars is that we students compared ourselves to one another. Those at the top may have been motivated to try harder, but I wonder about those in the middle or toward the bottom. Were they discouraged to see everyone else’s stars? Did they just want to give up and not bother to try?
If you are anything like me, you can be too hard on yourself at times or be your own worst critic. You may find in this era of blogs, Instagram, and Facebook, you may compare yourself to the accomplishments of others. Stop right there!
Even as adults we can still give ourselves gold stars. When you’re having a rough time or doing the Comparison Game, turn off the computer, tablet, or smartphone. Take out a piece of paper or journal and make a list of your accomplishments, large or small. You can also make a list or what makes you, uniquely you. Buy some foil stars and place them next to each accomplishment or unique trait. If you don't have stars, just draw them. Quick and easy peasy.
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