I’m in a weird place emotionally these days. I get up, go to work, focus on getting results, come home, listen to Rebekkah’s day, clean my home, and the whole process starts again the next day. I can honestly say, I work hard to maintain an outside veneer of pleasant calmness, but inside, something feels off. And despite my herculean efforts to hide my personal battlefronts, people can always tell when I am internally freaking out anyways, because I break out in hives. The more stress I’m carrying around, the more hives I get.
Even worse, I’m just a shade darker than a cold glass of milk, so anything remotely resembling any form of the color red stands out on me like a conquering army’s flag. For two weeks now, I’ve been breaking out here and there with these stress bumps, but today was the final straw. I look like a small pox victim. I have no choice but to start rooting up some of this crap growing in my mind, and tossing it into the incinerator of brutal honesty. So here goes. I’m getting ready to lay down some embarrassing truth about myself. I’ll do this in three parts. Today, I’m addressing my envy.
I. Comparing my life, and finding it worth less.
I have written before of the successes my brother Michael Cheshire has found as a writer, speaker, and humorist. I have not written much about my half-sister, Shawn Cheshire, who is a Paralympic gold medalist. I am the eldest of my mother’s children, while Mike is second, and Shawn is third in birth order. In all of my years growing up and living decades away from my childhood relationships, I would never have dreamed I could be the kind of person who would find myself subconsciously comparing the value of my life with someone else’s. And yet, here I am.
Albert Einstein had a sister named Maja. No one talks about Maja because compared to Albert, what could anyone say? She blew no one’s minds with theories of anything. She was probably wicked intelligent, but it wouldn’t have mattered much. Albert would have outshined her without even trying. I feel like Maja sometimes. Unknown, probably slightly insecure, average little Maja. A footnote in the great life of Albert Einstein.
I know that what I am experiencing is completely normal, and I imagine every person who has ever had overachiever siblings make it into the spot light has felt the same way at one point or another, but that doesn’t make any of this feel better to me. I hate feeling like my own life’s worth has anything to do with anyone else’s successes or failures, and I refuse to allow myself to remain in this strange place emotionally.
What is even more mind boggling is I’m massively introverted, and having people constantly follow me around with a camera while I’m exercising, or being bombarded by emails, letters, phone calls, or anything else of that sort would make my head explode. I would hate it more than I can put into words. Still, I have a feeling when I die, I might only end up being a quick footnote in the lives of two people who made an impact on the world in a big enough way to get people’s attention. No one sets out in life to end up a footnote. Footnotes are boring. Footnotes suck. I don’t want to be a footnote.
The brutal truth is that I can write too, like Michael, but I probably will never be a tenth as successful with it as he is. He has that spark of magic some people have that can’t be mimicked. His own scars have healed in such a way, he’s able to take the dark parts of life and make them endurable with laughter. That is a gift God gave him, and I do not begrudge him of it. I am proud of everything he has been able to accomplish, and none of it has a thing to do with my own successes and failures. He’s earned his successes.
Nor will I ever be any sort of athlete. Shawn has always had the physical self-discipline to push her body into running and exercising. I hate physical crap like that, and it comes as no surprise to me, she took something she loved and made a career out of it. She has always craved the attention and approval of others, and the fact that she was able to find all of that in one neat, tidy package is something I am glad for her about. Unlike me, Shawn’s extroverted nature has always been most comfortable on an invisible stage, living life for an audience. She’s a lot like our mother when it comes to that. I wouldn’t take that away from her either.
My life is my own to make, whether I do anything noteworthy with it or not. A sure-fire way to make it suck, though, is to set unrealistic goals for yourself based on someone else’s life. I’m finished with that. Maybe I’m destined to be a footnote. If I hate the idea so much, then it is within my power to change that. Nut up, or shut up.
Hopefully, this will relieve about a third of these itchy hives.