POV: You just found out your friend is engaged or is having a baby and while you’re excited for her, you can’t help but think, “Great, now I'm even further behind.”
It’s natural to compare ourselves to our peers, and that’s not always a bad thing. Comparing yourself to others can help you realize what you want and hold yourself to a higher standard, but that doesn’t mean it’s always healthy. Those feelings of envy can quickly become all-consuming if you’re not careful, and it’s easy to become disheartened if you endlessly compare yourself to other people.
You might feel like they’ve accomplished a lot more than you have or that you’re not as far along as other people are. Here are some important things to remember the next time you feel like you’re falling behind all of your friends.
Analyze Your Envy
I know this sounds weird, but hear me out. Experiencing envy is universal – it’s something we all go through more than we’d care to admit. Instead of letting your jealousies fill you with resentment, take a more analytical perspective and ask yourself why you’re feeling that way. If you’re jealous of a friend because she just got a promotion at her job, then that means you’re unhappy with your own job in some way. Use that information to make the changes you need in your life, whether it’s working toward a promotion yourself or seeking out a new job altogether. See your envy as a source of insight rather than resentment.
Your Path Is Different, but No Less Worthy
Just because your friends are “ahead of you” in life doesn’t mean that your own path is any less worthy than theirs. I know it’s easy to feel like it is, but that’s not true. You’re still a human being full of promise and talent, and there is so much you have yet to accomplish. Remember that whenever you’re feeling down about yourself.
Gratitude has an amazing ability to completely obliterate other emotions. It’s powerful because it’s very difficult to feel envious or angry when you’re feeling grateful. Remember everything in your life that you have to be grateful for, like a nice home, a loving family, your health, your pet, etc. There are billions of people all over the world who would do anything to have what you have, so don’t take it for granted.
See your envy as a source of insight rather than resentment.
Expand Your Social Circle
I’m not saying you should find completely new friends. It’s actually good to have friends who are at different places in life than you; they’re a great source of advice and perspective. However, it’s also important to have friends who are going through the same things you are. If you’re the only person in your social circle who’s still single, try to find some other single women you can hang out with who will empathize with what you’re going through and share experiences with you. They’ll also probably have more free time to go out and attend events where you might both meet someone!
Arguing with Reality Will Get You Nowhere
You know that saying, “Don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 10”? Well, it’s cliché because it’s true. If someone has accomplished a lot more than you, then there’s probably a good reason for it that has nothing to do with you. Maybe they’re simply older or have been working in your field for longer. Resenting that reality won’t get you anywhere and will only upset you more, so look at them as a role model instead of a competitor.
Think Of Where You Were Five Years Ago
Sometimes we get so caught up in all of the things we haven’t accomplished yet in life that we forget to stop and give ourselves kudos for the things we have. Think about where you were five years ago or 10 years ago. Back then, you were probably dreaming of having some of the things that you take for granted now, like a great job or a loving husband or your own home. You’ve come a long way in the last five years. Stop and give yourself credit for it every once in a while!
Definitions of Success May Differ
One man’s idea of success is another man’s idea of misery. While there are certain objective measures of success, like how much money you make, not everyone defines their success by objective measures. Some people might see making partner at a law firm as the pinnacle of their career, while others would never want to spend that much time away from their family. Money, fame, fancy job titles – these are nice to have, but they’re not really what life is all about. Remember that things like family, faith, and relationships are ultimately far more meaningful in life than a promotion at work.
Money, fame, fancy job titles – these are nice to have, but they’re not really what life is all about.
It’s Never Too Late for a Fresh Start
Better late than never applies to new goals too. As we get older, it can often feel like we’re “too old” for a career change or to try something new or to finally find our person. But people do all of those things at later stages in life all the time! Julie Child didn’t write her first cookbook until she was 50. Vera Wang didn’t get her start in the fashion industry until she was 40. Morgan Freeman didn’t get his big break in acting until he was 50. It’s not too late for you, even if it feels like it.
Find Joy in Other Areas
Theodore Roosevelt once said that “Comparison is the thief of joy.” The jealousy and inadequacy we feel when we constantly compare ourselves to others can be very depressing. If you’re feeling behind in your career or your love life, it’s easy to let those things consume you, but you need to shift your focus. Find a new hobby, start a new project, or establish some new goal that has nothing to do with your feelings of inadequacy. Shifting your focus will give you something else to work on and help you cultivate joy and meaning in other areas of your life.
Consistency Pays Off
When someone accomplishes something big in life, we often assume it happened overnight, but that is never true. Big accomplishments are made up of a series of much smaller achievements. Big accomplishments take a long time and a lot of hard work. Instead of feeling overwhelmed at what you still haven’t achieved, focus on being consistent and showing up every day. Over time, consistency adds up, and if you put in the work, it will pay off in the end.
Remember That We’re All Human
I said earlier that we all experience envy, and that’s true of your friends as well! You might feel like you’re behind them, but I guarantee you they probably feel envious of people in their lives too. Some of them might even be envious of you. While we’re all on different paths, we’re still all human and we all experience hardships.
Hopefully, this list helps ease your mind if you’re feeling burdened by the idea that you’ve fallen behind in life. I’ve had a lot of fresh starts in my own life and often feel the exact same way, so the next time you feel like the whole world is against you, remember that you’re not alone.
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