I recently took an overnight trip to Niagara Falls with my good friend Amanda. It was a much needed break from work, and I needed to get out of Michigan for a moment (self-care – which I highly recommend you do as well!). We did all the usual things one does in Niagara; we walked down to see the falls, went to the cheesy touristy stores that sell all the same stuff, went behind the falls (amazing) and up the long elevator ride of the Skylon Tower.
The next morning we ate at the only Applebees in existence that serves breakfast and then walked back down the (horrible, evil, calf-busting, and toe-blistering) hill to see the falls one more time before heading back to the states. As we began our walk back to the car, I had a thought that made me chuckle, and I said to Amanda, “I wonder if the American Falls ever get jealous of the Canadian Falls.” Amanda replied, “I don’t know why they would; it’s just as beautiful and glamorous as the other. It just has a different shape.” This got me thinking of how much we, as a people, compare ourselves to others and how that changes how we view ourselves. From that little exchange with my friend, I thought it would be fun to personify all three of Niagara’s Falls and what I would want them to realize if I was their therapist. Read on my friends…
“I’m puny and boring compared to the Horseshoe. Damn Canadian Falls think it’s so much better than me, with its massive horseshoe shape and thunderous roar. I’ll never be popular as long as I’m straight and boring. I’m such a wimp that nobody ever bothers to try to take me on in a barrel, plus I don’t even generate an ounce of mist compared to my neighbor. I wish I was badass and got even half the attention the Canadian gets.”
Canadian Horseshoe Falls
“I never get a moment alone. Selfie sticks? Really? I’m surrounded by people constantly. At least the American Falls get a break in winter while I have people up my butt all year round (you can journey behind the falls you know…). Also, the other fall lights up so much more clearly at night where my mist blocks most of mine. And why do I have to take on ALL the idiot daredevil barrel jumpers? Why can’t the Americans share the burden?”
Bridal Veil Falls
“At least people know y’all exist…”
Waterfalls in Therapy
If each of these falls were sitting on my therapy couch, I would remind them that they are each unique in their own way and all deserve to be adored and celebrated. Let’s be honest, the reason people go over the Canadian falls in barrels is because the American falls are WAY more dangerous due to the rocks along its wall and the MOUND of rocks at the base of the drop (talk about badass)! I would remind the American that its colors shine so amazingly at night when lit up and are so much clearer to look at. I would remind the American that while its Canadian cousin is really cool, only the American and Bridal Veil Falls have the “Cave of the Winds” tour, a terrifying and unbelievably up close experience. I would gently let the Canadian Falls know that it is not their fault that people keep using it for daredevil and other stunts, that they are not at all responsible for it and that the park is actively searching ways to increase safety wherever possible. I would remind all three sets of falls that people have been traveling to them for years. These people include poets, authors, royalty, families, and newly engaged couples. I would point out to the Bridal Veil Falls that when people go on the Cave of the Winds tour, the tour eventually leads people to its base. While it is the smallest of the three, it is still absolutely mighty and not one to be trifled with. I would make sure each one knew how beautiful, unique, valued, and special they are.
Which Fall are You?
Who are you comparing yourself to? What expectations have you set upon yourself? As someone who has struggled with losing weight my entire life, I will honestly admit I often compare myself to others. I sometimes wonder what my life would look like if I had been thinner (would I have married differently, gotten better grades, a different career, more money, be happier?). But I have friends who are thin and beautiful who believe they are ugly because they were broken up with by a boyfriend. The point is, we are ALL comparing ourselves to everyone else. It’s time for all of us to realize that WE ARE ALL BADASS.
Get ready for a cheesy assignment: Grab some paper. Grab a tea or coffee and plop down on your couch and make a list of the unfair comparisons and standards you may be holding yourself to. Now make a list of your AWESOMENESSES. Tear the first list up. I challenge you to this from now on: every time you think negatively of yourself, react by giving yourself a compassionate response. The more compassion you bestow on yourself, the less depressed and less anxious you become.
And when you have a moment, take some time for self-care and go see all three of the equally beautiful and badass Niagara Falls. But please don’t go over them in a barrel. The falls don’t like it and you’ll be fined 10,000 dollars.
By Annen Weber, LPC