When I was young and living with my parents in Nigeria, I enjoyed planting things. I would take care of the flower pots and spend some sweat tending to the flower beds that surrounded our house. My dad loved trees, so we had a good number of them: Guava, Avocado, Orange, Coconut, Plantain and Banana (I’m missing the one on the left side of the house, I can’t remember what it was). We also planted the occasional vegetables too; Bitter leaf, Waterleaf, Aloe vera, Scent leaf (Africa basil), Yam, Potato, Pepper, Scotch bonnet, Tomato, Ugwu (fluted pumpkin), Corn and Tobacco (because it was known to ward off snakes. Yes, snakes. They were constant visitors to our home).
Even though I enjoyed the occasional planting and tending, I wouldn’t call myself a farmer or gardener. If there were planting and harvesting seasons, I had no clue. I kept no record of how long it took anything to grow. I just did what I did for the fun of it.
I have lived in the UK for a while and have done some occasional gardening in the spring and summertime, just for aesthetics. I don’t have a vegetable patch, and I don’t grow any herbs in my kitchen, at least, not until the lockdown began. On Drama Queen’s last day at nursery, she was given a packet of seeds, and because I took Bumble-Bee along to pick her up, he got one too. Since it was the weekend, I decided to save the planting activity for the coming week, no matter how many times she bugged me about it – I needed all the activities I could gather to fill up the timetable.
Monday came and we got busy. We read the instructions on the packs and realised that DQ had Parsley seeds and BB had Radish seeds. In their separate biodegradable pots, we planted them and set them on the window seal. I half expected them to sit there forever and not bud till the day I throw them away. I also thought that if they did bud, they’ll do it together. So you can imagine how surprised I was when after five days, I noticed the soil in BB’s pot rise with a few things sticking out, and before the end of that day, out came some leaves.
You know where I’m going, right? I’ll still take the long road and tell you.
These seeds looked alike. They were placed in similar pouches. They were given the same soil and the same biodegradable pot and I think I used the same water from the tap to plant them. They both sat side by side in my lovely white pot and were placed by the window, getting fed by the same amount of sunlight. When I watered one, I watered the other. So why did one grow faster than the other?
On a little label in the pack were written the sprouting times, repotting times and harvest times for both seeds. The sprouting time for Parsley is between 14 to 21 days while the sprouting time for Radish is between 7 to 14 days. If I hadn’t noticed it, I would have thought that the parsley was rubbish. If someone walked into my kitchen and saw both pots, they would wonder why one had a plant and the other was without, and maybe we might have decided to chuck the plantless one out.
Yesterday morning, as I watched the plants, the Lord spoke to me:
“Do you see why it’s dangerous to compare yourself with anyone else?”
So you were both born on the same day, you were fed the same kind of food, you had the same teacher in school, you read the same books and listened to the same kind of stuff, yet at age 35, he is married with kids and has a multimillion-dollar paying job. Of course, there are many seemingly valid reasons why you fell behind, but you don’t realise that you are both different in every single way.
You both do the same exercises and you’re both on the same diet, yet you have lost 10 more kilos than she has and you feel you’re better. You fail to realise that you both have different sprouting times and you let your success get into your head. Soon enough you start looking down on her and suspecting she’s probably not taking the weight-loss program seriously.
Your child writes properly but cannot read. Your neighbour’s child reads books that are well beyond his age. You keep wondering why your child hasn’t started reading even with all the effort you have put. You get upset and learning times become a pain for your child because of your frustration that stems from the baseless comparison of your child to another.
Don’t discard yourself because you think others are ahead of you in whichever way.
Don’t give up on that child because you think he or she isn’t achieving what others of the same age are.
Don’t give up on that business because you think it is fruitless, as you look at others flourishing around you.
Don’t give up on that marriage because you see lovely photos and videos of others on social media.
Don’t give up on that blog because you think your followers are dwindling in comparison to others.
Don’t give up praying altogether because you can’t pray as long as your friend, or pastor, or spouse.
Don’t give up!
But before you consider not giving up, how about this:
NEVER COMPARE YOURSELF WITH ANOTHER.
That’s a great place to start.