As a new immigrant in Canada, comparison became a part of my life. When I first arrived in Canada, it was an endless comparison to my own comfortable past back in Doha, Qatar. Over time, I started comparing myself to fellow compatriots. It was never-ending and in the end, I either felt haughty or shattered with low self-esteem.
In 2012, during my second winter in Canada, I was depressed that I had to start building my career all over again. I had worked in the airline industry before I came to Canada, but I couldn’t get a job in my industry and instead started a new career in financial services. I wistfully ordered a coffee at a coffee shop and sadly remembered the series of events following my landing in Canada. I gasped when I hit upon the memory of my debit card being declined in this very coffee shop for want of sufficient funds! Yet, two years later I had qualified for a low mortgage rate thanks to my good credit history. How could I have been so ungrateful to rant about little savings? My 2013 New Year’s resolution was to never complain again, but I did.
I always believed we discover ourselves the most when we are alone. Yet in 2013, I was sad as I had very few friends. To wile away time, I learnt to crochet. But I was still disappointed and wished my weekends weren’t so lonely. Months later when my crochet projects were admired by my many friends, I felt guilty to have not appreciated moments that actually helped me develop a skill that ended up being my favourite hobby. I was determined to savour each moment and to never complain again.
But in 2014, I was upset about living in a condo while my friends owned houses. To chase away self-pity, I started making a collage of pictures I took that year. Every picture reflected a happy moment. My cat. My first car. Putting up the Christmas tree. The first big dinner. I photographed all of these moments in my condo. So why was I so upset that I was living in it? It was never about where I lived, but about how I lived! I resolved firmly to stop this vicious cycle of ingratitude and guilt, but it resurfaced in 2017.
My husband Jacques was new to Canada and although he finally got employed, I fretted ceaselessly over dwindling finances. One day, on our way to work, Jacques suddenly collapsed. My mind froze. Good Samaritans ran to administer CPR while a kind transit bus driver called 911. Jacques miraculously woke up after eight minutes. A month later, I learned he had a type of heart disease. But those eight minutes had changed me forever. All the money in the world couldn’t wake Jacques during those eight horrifying minutes. The me who had ceaselessly mulled over trivialities was gone. The vicious cycle was finally broken.
In the midst of never-ending comparison, I had forgotten to thank the small enriching experiences, help through mysterious ways, and blessings that framed my life. Life is so uncertain. Especially now in the midst of a pandemic, let us be thankful for what we have and not brood over what we don’t have. Strive we must, but let us not forget to be grateful for the little moments of fun and laughter that may never return. When you start listing your blessings, you will be amazed to know that there is really a lot to be grateful for!