Bethany Lee

Bethany Lee

The Scarcity Mentality

In Ryan D. Lee’s defense, the whole world had also gone crazy.

In fact, I bet if YOU opened your linen closet right now, this very second, an avalanche of stockpiled toilet paper would bury you within seconds. That’s right; I see you.

But, being that the Lees already had months of emergency toilet paper and food stored in our basement, I was a little surprised when the Amazon Prime truck dropped off five huge cases of Scott toilet paper. My surprise turned to alarm when I realized that these rolls were… uh… large. I mean, even Shaquille O’Neal would feel daunted by them.

“Ryan, what-did-you-DO?!”

“What do you mean?” he joined me at the open box and peered down inside. “Oh… well, that was unexpected.”

Ryan had been expecting five cases of regular human toilet paper, not five cases of Megalodon toilet paper (for the sake of accuracy, these were actually tightly wound industrial paper towels, which have since come in handy, surprisingly. Just not on our bottoms).

Even though we’d been prepared for the Toilet Paper Crisis of 2020, the mass pilgrimage to the grocery stores left us feeling worried. What if there was no TP at the store ever again? What would we do? How could we survive?

The reality was that there was plenty of toilet paper in the world for everyone. And even if there wasn’t enough, it would be okay. We would innovate.However, it FELT like a major crisis. We were in scarcity. The more toilet paper other people had, the less confident we felt in our own supply. That’s when Ryan ordered “the rolls.”

We humans are predisposed to this scarcity mindset. We worry that the more someone else has, the less we will have. This is why we feel threatened by people who have money, cool talents, and own their own bidets.

“How can I be skinny when she is so much skinnier?”“I thought MY car was cool, but look at the rims on THAT Tesla.”

“That person’s faith is so solid. Why do I waver? What is wrong with me?”

This comparison game is brutal. We all do it.This new generation of teenagers plays an especially viscous match. Imagine dealing with all the typical teenage insecurities but adding social media into the mix. It would be like sinking chest-deep in quicksand and then someone handing you an iPad.

When I see those Junior High kids standing on the corner waiting for the school bus, being loud and obnoxious and toting their smartphones and Hydroflasks, my heart squeezes in my chest. These kids are fighting a billion battles a day, putting each other down, puffing their chests outward, trying to hoard all of the “coolness” because it feels like there is not enough to go around.

There is enough, kiddos! There is more than enough. You are enough.

My many years (LOL) have taught me that the less I compare myself to others, the less chance I have of suffocating in an avalanche of metaphorical toilet paper. When I celebrate others for their successes and celebrate myself for mine—not balancing the two on opposing sides of a scale—I find that I like everyone, especially myself, much better!

Ryan and I preach this concept to our kiddos every day, but we know they will only internalize this lesson when they get pummeled a little by the “scarcity” game. So I write them books with characters dealing with the same stuff, pray like it is nobody’s business, and love those little monsters unconditionally.

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