Friday, January 07, 2005

Comparison Shadows

Wednesday night for some reason or another my mind wandered back to high school. The thought process was people I dislike, my hit list (oh don't act like you don't have one too! y'all do don't you?lol), prefect from high school who made hit list, trivial incident with prefect at school which led to detention (details; 12-13 years old, video games outlawed from being played at school, brought game to school purely to exchange with friend to play at home, game was not played at school but some other joker saw exchange told prefect, prefect went into bag found game, I got detention for the first time), comparison to other folks.

Then I read Solitaire's post about when Marlo visited her so I thought I'd share a comparison story. (hey don't hate me for trying to find inspiration when the block has me devoid of original thoughts). I'm sure we all have them (comparisons that is).

When I was in high school, actually my bad from the time I was in primary school I was always deliberately or maybe not deliberately compared to this one young man from our neighborhood. Lets call him Peter (definitely not his real name because for the life of me I can only just remember him as miss so n so's biggest boy chile). His mother was a friend of my mom's from church and he had gone to my primary school, done amazingly well, got into one of the so-called top schools in the island and gone on to greater things winning awards and going off to England to study etc. A real role model. Peter was this tall, slim, very modest, quiet and shy, very intelligent young man. What one would call a gentleman back in the day. Sort of like me except for the intelligent part oh and the role model part oh and the gentleman part too. ummm maybe we weren't that much alike in hindsight.

Somewhere along the line my mom and other folks probably saw his path as the blueprint for the path I was to follow so although I wouldn't actually say that I had steady and constant reminders of him I did have quite a few comparisons made and whenever they came up I bristled. I guess from small I just disliked comparisons. You just got to be you, you cant live someone else's life.

Anyway so being pretty smart at primary school (who would have thought it now?) and from the same neighborhood as Peter I lived though many a comparison.

I ended up following his lead to the same high school (he had graduated by then and headed off to England) and so the comparisons and the hopes and dreams of me walking in Peter's footsteps increased in my mother's eyes. So when I got my first detention in high school (above story with video game), I remember the lecture from my mom including a very biting line something like "Peter went to dat school and he mudda say he never get not one detention in de seven years he was dere" accompanied by one of those guilt inducing looks that everyone's mother is capable of. Ouch I guess the bubble burst and although on some level I rejoiced at being out of Peter's shadow, I felt really low because I realized that being in his shadow really hadn't been that bad. At least people had high expectations for me which was a good thing so that meant I had let down my mom somewhat.

Oh well! Life goes on. Not trying to be flippant or anything but I'm sure it wasn't the last let down my mom got from me and while at that age I did strive to please my parents alot now like I said you got to live your life for yourself and not to please others. Yea may sound strange and its not like I deliberately went out there to disappoint moms but just saying I aint losing no sleep over it. Anyway fortunately or unfortunately depending on your perspective that one detention was not enough to permanently dislodge Peter's shadow from engulfing me.

School goes on, detention goes on, grades weren't that great (at least not like Peter's probably were) so I still got the occasional reference to him. Its not like I was wilding out or anything just that I wasn't living up to those high expectations. I just had too much athletic yearning, not necessarily talent mind you, inside me. Guess I can thank my dad for that lol. I played cricket, handball, football, basketball, tennis at any time I could get a chance and I liked reading fiction from the school library more than I liked reading text books. Think I must have read every Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Famous Five mystery book out there....and then there were the comics and that incident which many many years later is still too painful for me to talk about.

Hey I had got through primary school without major studying why couldn't I get through High School the same way? Oh well the grades weren't that bad, they just weren't as good as Peter's (who had applied himself probably) or they didn't indicate I would be following in his footsteps. (anyways starting to ramble its not a life story I'm giving)

Peter finished his degree in England and came back to work in Barbados and went on to bigger and better things. Nothing remarkably spectacular about his story, no one upsmanship from me, no falling into drugs and ending up a bum for him. Not that I wished that fate on him its just sometimes as a kid ,and as an adult too, you think that the only way to get out of those comparison shadows is for the other person to completely slip up. Especially when they are so deep. Oh come on most of us do so like to see certain people falter, pass the hater-ade son. :-) But no in all sincerity I can say that Peter is/was truly a good guy so I never had those thoughts and it was actually rather inspirational where I'm from to see his success story. Oh somewhere along the line I came to grips with the comparisons I guess. Yea they still urk me a bit but sometimes I think if he could do it hey maybe there's a chance for me. So yep, I endured the comparisons, actually did better than him in certain areas, worse in others but I remember the comparisons occasionally, wonder how he's doing (heard he has a a 'big' job now) and from time to time he comes up in conversation. Me I think I turned out ok, except for the mental issues but I aint went postal yet so I cant complain. :-)

Still I do really not like the whole comparison thing although sometimes that's the only way for people to relate to you as an individual. They compare you to your siblings or your parents or someone who speaks like you, looks like you, has the same profession, came from your background but seems to have achieved more, dresses better, has aged better, mek more money, have nuff pickney an you still no have nun, have bigger car dan you etc. Its just human nature to categorize and sometimes stereotype folks.

I'm sure we all have stories like that where we have lived in someone's shadow as we were growing up and even if we're already grown there is always that someone who is still quick to compare us to someone else. Sometimes its good to see the comparisons, sometimes its not so good but hey don't fixate on them and just do you. Not saying we all shouldn't strive for improvement but we all cant live the same life and when you think about comparisons they are rather superficial in the sense that no one ever knows the full story of the individuals involved.

Could go on and on, the full has never been told
while I'm living, as I'm living
to the father I will pray
only 'im kno how me get thru every day

(man, I fighting the block but is still struggle me a struggle)


Abeni said...

Always hate being compared to anyone.It always leaves you with a feeling that you not good enough.I guess its not the intention but that is how it feels.I Lost count of how many times I was aked why can't I be like this relative or that one.I couldn't because we are different people,with different life experiences.If only my family understood that eh.

Melody said...

Ah like ta hear parents tellin' their kid, "Just do your best, that's all we ask." Ah don't like ta hear, "Yu betta do as good as he did!" or "Yu betta do as good as she did!" De comparison credits de kid's own achievements to someone else entirely, and hinges de kid's own identity. Not nice!

Scratchie said...

I remember when I first saw the phrase about not judging someone until you have walked a mile in his mocassin. I was in 3 grade so you can imagine the impresson it made on me to remember it some 31 years later. Each person has their own life and experiences. My 2 children are prime example. 2 different persons and lives.
Fight the block JDid. It will pass.

obifromsouthlondon said...

Yeah good ol' comparisons.

"Mabel's son bought a second house"
"Sonia's daughter got married"
"Stephen got a first class"
"Micheal drives a mercedes"
"Tonya's has had a baby"
"when are you going to blah, blah, blah..."

it goes on didy. effin' do gooders lol.

You read Famous Five as well?? all 21 of dem books were off the hook. ahh childhood memories. It's the only boast my mums had about me. "obi loves to read lots of books you know!".