I posted something on my Instagram story a few days ago about the importance of living life on your own timeline, and I was so taken aback by the messages I got in response. With the insight I gained from my followers’ replies and the holidays just around the corner, I want to further dive into this because we can all use a reminder.
It has become extremely hard to enjoy your own life without comparing it to that of another. We are surrounded by images of happy, successful people. There is a lot of pressure to be what we as a society deem “successful,” whether that is looking good, being in a stable relationship with a hot partner, making a lot of money, having a great social life with friends, owning a nice home, etc.
External pressure seemingly comes from everywhere. Magazines are talking about the best and worst beach bodies of celebrities.People around us are moving up the career ladder, signing big deals and getting promoted. Our family will ask us “What’s next?” over Thanksgiving Dinner, or worse, “Still single?” Social media only adds to the intensity. I know I am not alone when I say I see engagement after engagement on Facebook, or a couple buying a home together, or lavish vacations across the world.
There’s also loads of internal pressure. We set goals for ourselves that we expect to reach. A friend of mine told me this week, “I want to be promoted within a year of starting this job, and then a few months after that I want to be engaged so we have the extra pay to help with the wedding planning.” I almost laughed at her but then I stopped myself because I do the exact. same. thing. I’m type A and plan everything, so major life milestones are no exception.
Sometimes, life goes the way we want it to go. We stay a few hours later at the office and end up proving to our boss that we deserve the promotion, or the guy you meet at a bar ends up being perfect for you and you quickly get serious. Here’s the thing, though: A lot of the time, life requires a Plan B, and probably a plan C. Maybe even a Plan D. We can never know what’s ahead for us.
These moments of uncertainty and disappointment are when I think it is the hardest to choose not to compare your timeline to that of someone else. You look at their success and start questioning yourself as to why you’re not enjoying success of your own: “What mistakes did I make? Did I not try hard enough? Is there something inherently wrong with me?”
WHY do we compare ourselves? It’s illogical! We all are different humans with different strengths, different weaknesses, and different drives. We naturally will not go through life the exact same way! Comparing your life to that of another is like comparing apples and oranges.
While you are upset because the girl hired after you getting promoted while you were passed over, really wishing that you were in her shoes, I guarantee she is looking at you and feeling insecure about something you have “achieved” that she has not. Maybe you are really committed to hitting the gym and staying healthy. Maybe you are super outgoing and energetic in social situations where she feels more out of place.
Comparison truly is the thief of joy. By letting that negativity into our lives, not only does it rob us of feeling happy with our current situation, it can rob joy from those around us. If your best friend gets a boyfriend but you are single AF, you should be over the moon that there is someone who will love and cherish her, instead of taking out your insecurities of being alone on her and her new relationship. Do not let the negative “poor me” thoughts cloud your judgement and hurt your relationships with loved ones.
Just because someone else has reached a milestone you’d love to be experiencing, it in no way means you won’t get there -you just aren’t there NOW.
I think the key to getting “there” (whether that be buying a home, starting your own company, etc.) is embracing your “now.” My mom has always told me to live in the moment, and I think that applies nicely here. Do not stress over the future. You will reach your goals. You will succeed in your career. You will find love. You just don’t know when, and your worrying will not make that time come any sooner. All you can control is your “now.”
You can control what you do with your feelings. When you really really want to backstalk your ex’s new girlfriend on Instagram and throw a pity party over how single you are, reach out to someone about it. Create a dialogue about what you want out of your next relationship, or make a list of things you want to work on before you date someone again. Even better, channel that energy in a constructive way. Go work out. Paint a picture. Write a song. I think the important thing is just accepting that we all have moments where we question ourselves and where we are going, and learning to deal with these moments so that they pass quickly.
You can control the people you choose to be around. Take a good look at your friends, your peers, and your significant other. Of course, ask the basics: Do they love you unconditionally? Are they positive assets to your life? Do they support your endeavors? I’d suggest taking this one step further: Are they excited about life? Do their eyes light up when they talk about their passions? Are they thankful for your relationship? You’re apparently an average of the five people you most associate with, so make sure they are as ambitious, strong, nurturing and secure as they come.
You can control your mindset. I believe that positive thoughts and positive people attract more positivity, and in the same token, negative thoughts and negative people attract more negativity. You can choose to be negative about how you’re not where you want to be, or you can try to look for the positives in the situation. These positives don’t even have to be big! They can be as tiny as the promotion you wanted would have required working holidays, and now you will be able to eat as much turkey as you want on Thanksgiving. Shifting your mindset from dwelling on negatives you can’t change to picking out little glimmers of positives will help you move forward and get closer to your next big accomplishment.
At the end of the day, we all are on our own unique journeys through life. Choose to be happy with where you are right now, and the rest will fall into place.