Keeping Up With the Joneses

There is an old saying, "Keeping up with the Joneses." They've even made a movie with that phrase as the title. Growing up, the saying didn't make all that much sense to me. My teenage self would have said, "I mean, what's the big deal? We all just live our lives in our own way. After all, we are all unique, right? Who would ever want to be the same as someone else?"

Aaah, the innocence of youth.  As much as we all may try, there are times in all of our lives where we may find ourselves getting caught up in the quest to keep up with society. Even our friends, neighbors, and family can become the 'Joneses' in our lives.

I have found myself on more than one occasion caught in the vicious cycle of trying to keep up. Whether it's trying to be the super single parent, the mom who plans the best birthday parties, the colleague who has everything organized and put together. Posting the best pictures on Facebook. Being the most 'artsy' of artists.

Proving to the world (or at least those who know me) that our family is doing GREAT!  I'm doing GREAT! EVERYTHING IS GREAT!!!(Super psycho smiley face implied, hope you caught it.)

Not long ago, Little Man, Baby B and I went to the park with my brother's family, and my mom. While there, I saw a mom with an impressive camera getting pictures of baby's first trip to the park. You could see how excited the mom and dad were. Expectations were high. They were going to capture this first of their precious little girl playing at the playground. That is not a bad thing (although that lens was pretty ginormous cool.)

As I looked at their amazing camera, I thought about our broken digital camera and the fact that I am currently capturing memories on my cell phone.  Just like that, they had become the Joneses. It wasn't their fault. There is nothing wrong with having a nice camera when you can afford one. They weren't trying to be flashy or showy.  They were just living out their life.

I was the one making myself feel inadequate, and envious. (Gulp.) So much for my youthful spouting off about how "We should all just live our lives!" Are there real 'Joneses' in the world? Absolutely. For some people, every aspect of life is a competition and they are the victors. This time, unfortunately, I was the one that was the problem.

At that moment I thought to myself, "Enough is enough!" The fact of the matter is, there will always be someone who is more-something- that I am not.

While I try to pride myself on my individuality, a small part of me wonders if I should maybe be more athletic, studious, friendly, creative. More motherly, more understanding, more frugal, more patient, you get the picture. I think that many people have the same internal thought process. We act self assured and yet we are always trying to be thinner, smarter, richer, poorer, etc.

Yes, there are those who encourage the competition and suddenly in life becomes a rivalry. (Kind of like the women in this clip from "The Happiest Millionaire"-I love that movie!)

"Yeah, I have given away all of my clothes except for seven items. Seven days of the week, seven items." "I gave my entire income for the year to Feed the Unicorns. They're a really worthwhile organization."

Enough already!

Aiming for self improvement is not the problem. Treating everyone as if we are in a competition, THAT is the problem.

I recycle because its a habit I started a long time ago. I give to organizations that I feel speak to me, and don't worry about what everyone else if doing. I try to eat organic and raise organic foods when I can afford to, but I'm not going to preach to you about the dangers of not eating organic unless you ask. I would love to be like Claire Huxtable (according to one of those FB profile games that is the TV mom that I am most similar to) cool and stylish and always knowing the right thing to say.

In reality, I spend an inordinate amount of time talking to my two year old about the importance of going poop.

I don't know who the original Joneses were, but I know Genesis says that Adam and Eve took a bite of that forbidden fruit because they wanted to have knowledge just like God. It seems the desire to be equal to and/or better than others started a long time ago.

Well, Joneses, I will be taking the next exit out of this crazy town to enjoy my own life. Enjoy the neighborhood without me.

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Color Blind

I am an art teacher and have taught several students through the years that were color blind. The two most common forms of color blindness involve poor discrimination of the colors red and green respectively. In other words, those individuals can't see the colors red and green as well (or at all) as a person normally would. Generally, when someone explains that they are color blind, our automatic response isn't, "That is soooo great! Don't you wish EVERYONE was color blind?"

However, it has been very popular for people to state that they are color blind when referring to their attitudes towards other races. So much so, this one of the definitions of the phrase.

  1. 1.
    unable to distinguish certain colors, or (rarely in humans) any colors at all.
  2. 2.
    not influenced by racial prejudice.
    "a color-blind society"

Honestly, in my younger years, I would have thought calling myself color blind would have been a good thing. If I say that I am color blind, that must mean that I see all races as equal right? So that must be a good thing.

Or is it?

Just as being physically color blind, while not crippling, is not something we celebrate, I have started to feel the same way about being (for lack of a better word) racially color blind. You see, I think that the different races that make up our world are something to be celebrated. Not being influenced by racial prejudice is good, ignoring our uniqueness is not. I find it so interesting to meet and interact with individuals who have backgrounds different than my own. It would be extremely sad for me to live in a world where everyone was of the same racial origin.

While the idea of being color blind is good in theory, for me it feels like we're missing the mark with that statement.

With my own children, ignoring their race would be disregarding a major part of who they are. It would feel like I was saying they weren't important, by not acknowledging that wonderful aspect of them.

My children's heritage is to be celebrated just as much as my heritage or your heritage. Our histories, our origins, our cultures, are an important part of who we are.  Our life stories are meant to be rich with color, not devoid of them.

That depth of color, those experiences we share with others, is one of the things that make life so beautiful.

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