“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” – Pastor Steve Furtick
I woke up this morning from a nightmare that felt all too real. Because years ago it was my reality.
Back in high school, I sang in a chorus that would sometimes break off into duets and trios, and that was my dreamland destination last night. I love singing but found the competitive aspect of our choir very stressful and not conducive to a supportive group atmosphere. There was definitely a pecking order: whoever sang the “best” the weekend before got to sing in the duet or trio the next weekend. All these years later I was flooded with the feelings of inadequacy from the times I wasn’t one of the “chosen.” My ghost from the past brought to mind how I had been pressured in a microcosm of our society that constantly forces us to scrutinize each other, to compare and compete. Unfortunately, it’s hard to shake that off, even in a friendly riding arena.
I’ve worked at several barns and I am now lucky enough to ride at one where no one would ever vocally say “Stop - you’re doing that wrong!” We try to be nothing but supportive of one another, but unfortunately, when I came to this non-judgmental barn, I brought my personal inner critic with me. The same internal voice who would say to me in high school “Why can’t you hit that high note like Michelle?” is not as nice as to me as my fellow riders are.
So it’s a struggle, but one that I am getting better at after four years at my latest barn. When I catch myself saying, “You suck! Look at what a natural rider Mary is compared to you...” I mentally bench my critic and stop beating myself up, which isn’t at all constructive. Then I work on whatever needs improving: my posture, my cues, my breathing, so I can be the rider Tara needs instead of uselessly wishing I was someone else.
It goes against everything we were brought up with and now live with on a daily basis, but let’s try to cut ourselves some slack, relax a little and be the best riders we can be.