In times of professional and personal stress, I find myself overtly comparing myself to others. Am I as far ahead in my career? Do I have as many nice things? Have I done as many things on my bucket list? Do I have as many friends? Etc., etc.
These comparisons always fall short of any sort of meaning. Comparing pieces of my life to pieces of someone else’s is an exercise in absurdity. There is no scorecard for life where you can check off individual items and think, “Been there. Done that.” Life is lived, instead, holistically – every day adds a slight edge on what we’ve already built upon. Comparing, then, chunks of our lives to others doesn’t take into effect the things we can’t see about others – their struggles, their sense of accomplishment, their persistence, their personal relationships, their happiness.
For me, it’s hard not to compare. I’m very competitive and I’m the type of person who wants to get the absolute most out of life. I admit that I do feel a pang of envy when I see someone I know well get something I want – like a job promotion or a house. It’s not that I don’t want those people to have those things, it’s just that I want them too. And not having them, or feeling like it’s taking me a long time to get them, bums me out a little.
So what grounds me back to reality? My family and loved ones, for starters. Knowing that I have a handful of people at my back no matter what happens to me in life makes everything worthwhile, and the petty stuff fall away. The second thing – appreciating the things I have and the stuff I’ve done. Instead of lamenting the emptiness of my life, I celebrate the fullness by revisiting proud moments such as the birth of my child, living abroad, and the launch of this very website.
So don’t despair and don’t compare. Take yourself out of the minutia of what you don’t have, and live life as a whole. That way, it won’t matter if you don’t have it all because your already full life will be enough.
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