I’ll Never Be Emily

rivalry jealousy comparison anxiety self esteem child

Her hair was long and blonde. Mine was short and mousy. She was athletic, outgoing, popular. I was lucky if I had enough strength to leave the house. While her phone buzzed in her hand, nobody was texting me. The only person that called me pretty was my mum. Why did I compare myself so much to this girl? Because everyone else did.

Every family gathering, every Facebook update, every phone call from a relative, I was being force fed information about  my cousin, Emily. I should have been proud of her, happy for her – and I was – but the way it was always presented as a competition between us; one that I was always losing, made me horribly jealous.

I’ve always had a difficult relationship with my Dad, and he made it pretty clear that he’d love to change so much about me, despite me being his daughter, He criticised the fact that I wasn’t athletic like him, like Emily was. He didn’t like that I cut and dyed my natural blonde hair that had turned mousy by secondary school, while Emily’s hair never turned a shade darker than her natural Daenerys platinum. I wore jeans and trainers while Emily cascaded around confidently in floaty pink tops and skirts, getting double takes and compliments everywhere she went. I wasn’t stereotypically girly, but you know who was? Emily. Was Dad trying to turn me into her? Did he not like me as I was? Did I have nothing to offer because I wasn’t like her? Did he wish Emily was his daughter instead of me? I spent years swaying in and out of forcing myself to be someone I wasn’t and defiantly being myself all for his validation that I was good enough. I never got close. Her successes and favourable qualities were constantly compared to my flaws, used to belittle me. I was a mess, I was a failure, I was unlovable, because I wasn’t Emily.

This toxic mindset destroyed my self esteem and followed me into adulthood. Terrified and intimidated by every woman I met, I’d notice all their merits to compare against my faults, storing them in my mind to cry later about all the things I didn’t have and all the things I’d never be. Feeling unworthy, ugly, useless in the presence of anything who I felt had something I didn’t. I’m terrified of being under water, but that girl can scuba dive? She’s obviously better than me and that’s why they’re all talking to her instead of me.

I’m far too insecure in relationships, moulding myself into my boyfriends ideal partner is a weak attempt to subside the anxiety of them finding someone better (so, anyone really) and moving on. It’s a deep rooted subconscious effort to be just like Emily again, because the only way I’ll be liked is by being nothing like myself. My boyfriend is an engineer, whereas I can’t even stick two Lego bricks together, and I’ve had moments where I’ve felt so low about myself that I’ve screamed and cried all night at the intrusive thoughts that play over and over in my head of him connecting with another woman over a common interest I know nothing about. Forget the fact that relationships are built on so much more than that – if he wants to go out clubbing when I’d rather not, he’ll just find another girl to go out and dance with, he’d be happier with her anyway. It’s got to the point where I’m scared of my boyfriend leaving me for non-existent women that I’m bending over backwards to change who I am – to be his Emily. I couldn’t get my Dad’s approval, and to get closure on that I’m desperately trying to get any man’s approval that I’m just as good as Emily, maybe even better.

I’m slowly learning to love myself, but the constant comparisons to other women has left me hurt, insecure, bitter, and jealous. It’s a learned behaviour now, something I am trying every day to unlearn. I’m trying now to accept, instead of deflect, compliments. I will remind myself of all the reasons I’m great, without needing to be anybody else. I was told once that while you’re looking at someone, wishing for the things they have that you didn’t, that they could be doing the same to you. It’s common to not be happy in our own skin but we shouldn’t get so caught up on what we don’t have that we forget what makes us great. I’m learning that I don’t have to be Emily any more, I never wanted to be her. I want to be Zoe.





23 thoughts on “I’ll Never Be Emily

  1. An incredibly brave and powerful piece of writing and also very emotional. You should never ever be made to feel like this, nobody should ever be made to feel like this. You are an incredible young lady, so bright, so beautiful, so intelligent and you write so wonderfully from the heart. You should be proud of who you are and everything that you achieve you are truly a wonderful person


  2. Your openness in writing this is absolutely beautiful! Comparison is so toxic, but we all do it time to time, or at least a few times in our lives… It’s comforting to see it written about, ’cause that’s where overcoming can begin!

    I loved hearing some of your story, though parts of it make me want to cry. I have my own version of deep-rooted, self-despising, “I’m not good enough!” thoughts that i’ve needed to deal with… I’ve come a long way, but i still face them.

    The part of your story where you really bash in the faces of those toxic thoughts is going to be so satisfying! 💪😁 It’s wonderful to see that beginning!

    You go, Zoe! You are a beautiful person.

    💕 Alissa, https://storybehindthecloth.com

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! Your kind words have really uplifted me tonight 💛 I cried throughout writing this post, but getting it off my chest is the first step to coming to terms with it. It makes me sad to hear of so many others who have similar experiences and feelings, nobody should be made to feel like they’re not good enough – we’re all great just the way we are and we’re all different, that should be celebrated! You are absolutely good enough, it’s hard to believe it when you’ve dealt with self-doubt for so long, but we will get there eventually 💛

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This was an incredible post that got me a bit emotional. You should never be made to feel this way, I’m so, so sorry that you went through it. I did go through similar, though not with my parents, so I do know how you feel and the impact that it does have upon you. Trust me when I say you’re an amazing, beautiful, grounded woman in your own right, and there will be so many things you’re better at. With how stunning each post I read of yours is, I know for certain that writing wise and creativity wise, you’re untouchable 💛

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This reply has really got me 😭 thank you thank you thank you, you have no idea how much your kind words mean 💛 I’m sorry you went through a similar experience, it’s painful and learning to love yourself afterwards can take forever. But we can get there, you deserve to be happy with yourself, especially when you are amazing! ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow Zoe, this is so emotional. My heart goes out to you for going through such a shit situation. All I can say is never compare yourself to anyone else as everyone is individual; and anyone that tries to compare you to someone else isn’t worth your time wasted worrying. Embrace your true self & be confident and happy with who YOU are. If people don’t appreciate it, that’s their loss. Know your worth girl!

    You were born to be original don’t be a copy.

    Lozza xo

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Got a bit emotional reading this. I’m not someone who is like that, but this blog post brought it out. The words resonated with me because I have been this way and still find myself like this. It isn’t easy to admit, but I’m certain there are others who feel this way too. No one was taught to love themselves like one can learn maths in school. Self love takes years and the journey is never ending.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for reading, I’m sorry you’ve gone through a similar experience 💛 it’s hard to learn to love yourself when you’ve been told for years you’re not good enough, but we will get there 💛

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Omg, this made my heart hurt 😞

    That is horrible that you were made to feel that way. I grew up with my cousin, born a month apart, and we are completely different, but never judged or compared. We were actually the best of friends.

    I don’t know, Emily, but she doesn’t sound anywhere near as awesome, kind hearted and fun as you.

    You fuckin rock. Always remember that 💪🏼

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Colin this is so sweet, thank you 💛 she’s 2 months younger than me and we were constantly compared and made to compete. She passed her driving test before me so I was constantly reminded while I was still learning, she was fit and healthy from cross country running and horse riding while I was berated for playing video games. Me and Emily got on and even she hated the comparisons, but it got so much that I actually started to resent her through no fault of her own. If I ever have children of my own it’s the one thing I’ll never, ever do.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can’t believe that, that’s terrible. Especially coming from the other end, we were never put to compete against each other by our parents, even when we were competing in races together. We were very supportive of each other (he always took 1st and me 2nd, so that made it easier haha).

        Oh totally. My 3 kids are soooo different, and I love them all for it. I don’t force anything on them, my girls are “girly girls” but also love playing superheroes and love football through their own choices.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I never want my beautiful grounded empathetic loving caring Zoe to be an Emily. You have so much heart. Always seeing the good in everyone but not yourself. You believe in helping others. I couldn’t be more proud of my girl. Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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