It’s hard not to compare our lives to others, especially with social media these days. Lately, I have found myself comparing more than I usually do and being more harsh on myself. My goal going forward is to be more mindful of this. I am going to celebrate the milestones and achievements of others while understanding I have my own milestones and achievements that might not line up. My goal is to be present and content in my own life and not let what I see on social media or around me negatively impact that.
After reflecting on why I have been comparing so much lately, I decided on a couple of factors that might have influenced this. Some of the comparisons come from me not being at a certain point in life that I expected to be by now, and some are based on recent travel to other cultures.
I am not where I thought I would be financially.
I feel like not being where I want to be financially is making everyone else seem so much more advanced in that category. When in reality, I am probably only focusing on those that seem more successful than me. Success is a hard word to define, though, and it looks different for everyone. Financial success is not my biggest driving factor when I think about a successful life, so if I was to always compare myself to others I may never seem “successful”. Even if money is not that important to me, I still don’t have as much as I thought I would have by now. Moving to California was an incredible experience that I don’t regret, but it did set us back financially. This means that we’re not as close to buying a house as I would have hoped. Feeling that we’re so far away from buying a house has made me hyper-focused on all of the home-buying flooding my Facebook and Instagram feeds. Again, I have to remind myself that even though others are at that point in life it is okay that my husband and I are not.
I am not where I want to be career-wise.
I know that I am headed in the right direction and working towards a career that brings me joy, but it’s hard when it seems so far away. It doesn’t help when I see everyone on LinkedIn celebrating long work anniversaries, or hefty promotions. I once again have to remind myself not to compare my life to those that I see on the internet. If I had stayed on my previous marketing & advertising career path I could be celebrating a 5, or so year work anniversary and could have had a couple of promotions at this point, but I know I would not have been as fulfilled as I am today. Changing careers and starting from scratch makes you feel like you’re falling behind the “norm” but there’s no reason you have to follow what’s normal. I know I am happier now than I ever would have been in my past career.
Recent travels to another country and seeing different cultures and other ways to live.
One thing I took back from my recent travels to Argentina is how they seem to focus on time with family and friends and their experiences. Their dinners are at a much slower pace than ours, and it’s not uncommon to see 10-15 friends or family members together for dinner when there’s not even a birthday or holiday to celebrate. I also didn’t see as many people on their phones during dinner as I do in the States. It seems that they are focusing on what they are experiencing in the present moment. This made me realize that I am not as present all the time as I thought I was. The more present I am, the happier and more content I am. The happier and more content I am, the less I compare my life to others.
Traveling to another country also showed me a glimpse of how those less fortunate live. This doesn’t take traveling to another country. I think the same impact can be achieved by traveling within one’s own country, or even community. I am guilty of being totally absorbed in my own life and forgetting how fortunate I am because I am busy comparing myself to those directly around me.
I am 10 years out of high school.
Being 10 years out of high school has me picturing a 10-year reunion where everyone is asking about your life, and secretly comparing it to their own. It’s hard not to compare your life to your peers. However, it’s not a race and there is no trophy for the first to complete a task. Being 10 years out of high school also has me picturing myself back in high school and thinking about where I thought I would be by now in life. I guarantee my 16-year old self would have expected me to be a homeowner who is having a child within the next two years. I am not disappointed in myself for being behind on my own set timeline, because at that point in my life that timeline was based on what I thought you were supposed to do.
People my age are on their second child.
You really start feeling behind in life when a lot of people your age are on their second child. They have their life together enough to not just have one child, but two. I then have to remind myself all of the things I wouldn’t have been able to do, or the upcoming things I couldn’t do if I had a child. Even though having a child is something I know I don’t want right now, it’s still easy to feel like I’m doing something wrong when I see so many people with children. I also have to remind myself this is an important thing for me not to rush. I’ll get there one day, but today I am content.
I think it is very important to have goals about where you want to be in life at certain points, but those goals shouldn’t be based on where those around you are in their life journey. I think when you stop comparing your life to the life of those around you, you become happier and more content with your own life. There is no rule book on how life should be lived and when you should check off certain milestones. Yes, there’s a way that it’s typically lived but that doesn’t mean you have to follow that. We are all different and should be proud to live our own unique, fulfilling lives.