One of the most important things you can ever learn is to appreciate who you are. Other people may try to pigeonhole you or force you into their preconceived notions of who or what you should be, but God created you to be unique.
Sometimes in the media I get compared to other singers. Of course, at times it is extremely flattering to see my name in the same sentence with Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin or Tina Turner. Certainly, I’m beyond honored to be compared to these great female artists. Yet if I were to take those press reports seriously, those statements could produce enormous, unnecessary pressure and take my focus away from who I’m really supposed to be.
I can’t step onto a stage thinking, The audience is expecting Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight to walk out there – with a side of Tina Turner thrown in for good measure. They’re going to get Melinda. When I perform, I can only be myself. Of course I respect every one of those amazing singers and have learned so much from each of them, but I can only be Melinda.
Obviously, we live in a world of constant comparisons, and many of us work in extremely competitive environments. It is always tempting to allow comparisons to other people to dictate how we will look, act, speak, or even think. We can’t escape comparisons – American Idol is comparison to the max – but we don’t have to let those comparisons change our core values.
It’s easy for people to base their worth on what others say about them; they use the opinions of other people as a barometer to gauge how well they are doing. But that gauge is unreliable and sometimes even dangerous. When I find myself falling into that trap, I love to look at one of my favorite Scripture passages, from Psalm 139:
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
(Psalm 139:13-16, NIV)
To me, that passage says that we matter to God: He made us, and even before we were born, He established a plan for our lives. We cannot base our estimation of ourselves on the fickle opinions of other people.
That’s why I believe I am only in competition with myself. Certainly, I want to be the best “me” possible, so I work at my craft. I try to take good care of my body, mind, and spirit. But I don’t base my self esteem on someone else’s idea of who I should be. Funny, many images of celebrities or models in magazines nowadays are “computer enhanced,” altered to look better by someone who is handy with a mouse. The images themselves are not even real, much less valid comparisons.
So rather than comparing yourself to anyone else, simply relax and enjoy being the person God made you to be. You are your own competition. In fact, you are your only competition.
Adapted from Beyond Me: Finding Your Way to Life’s Next Level by Melinda Doolittle, © 2010 Melinda Doolittle, Zondervan.