We have all been there. You’re sitting with friends talking about your lives and then all of a sudden you start comparing what you DON’T have to what someone else DOES have.
I’ve been there, very recently. For a few years, I’ve been watching my friends get new jobs, buy houses and get married. Me, well I am far from getting married or buying a house or landing my dream job. I got stuck for a little while.
I was also so unbelievably focused on comparing my life to theirs that I began feeling depressed. In all my complaining and desire to have a so-called-perfect life, I lost sight of how far I had come in many other aspects of my life.
The only way to get over comparing is to start accepting where your life is in that moment. Once you do this you start to learn so much more about yourself. You can look back and reflect.
And you may just find some things you thought you wanted, you don’t want anymore.
Comparing your life to others brings you nothing but bitterness.
I should know. I once grew very bitter about the accomplishments of others. These moments in our friends’ lives are HUGE and we should be nothing but happy for them. At some point, we would want them to feel happy for our accomplishments too.
I was genuinely happy for my friends, but the more setbacks I had in my own life, the more challenging I found it to show them I was happy for them.
For me, when I started to realize I actually couldn’t show that I was happy for them, I had reached my breaking point. I wasn’t being a good friend. I noticed I was a little broken and it was my own viewpoint that broke me, not their success. This moment is crucial. I can almost pinpoint the moment I realized that I was a sabotaging my own relationships because I was bitter.
I am now able to look back over the weddings, the babies and the new jobs and honestly say I was so happy for them, even though I know I didn’t always show it. I can even say that I see aspects of my friends’ lives that I am glad I don’t have, and I am okay with that. Everyone is different.
For example, I have learned that I don’t want the fuss of a big wedding even though I always saw myself having one. I know that I love celebrating love with my dearest friends and that is more important than a big fancy wedding for me. I have learned that kids, even though I teach, are not my thing and that it is okay to not want them. I have also learned owning a house and living at home all come with their own struggles and neither way is the right or wrong way.
The abandoned aspects of your life are vital to your own happiness.
Through the process of comparing, you get hung-up on the major life events and forget the small parts of you. Your joys, interests, what makes you happy and even what makes you tick – the parts of you that make up who you are. When we forget what makes us happy or the little things that upset us in the midst of trying to understand what those things are for others, we lose ourselves. If we focus too much on the negative (I haven’t been promoted, I’m not married, etc.) then we can’t see the positive in our lives.
I realized that I had lost touch with myself when my days consisted of going to work, coming home and lying on the couch or in bed just to watch Netflix. I was bored, but I had no desire to do anything about solving my boredom and it was the quickest way to pass the evenings until I could fall asleep. Then in January (not a New Year’s resolution because I never keep them), I went on a spontaneous trip overseas for a weekend.
This trip came at exactly the right time, it was like an electric shock woke my inner-self and was now striving to get attention. I realized that it was okay to escape from life for a few days and find what makes me happy. This trip made me remember how much traveling made me happy and how much more of it I want to do. It also reminded me that I actually love to learn, when I got back I registered for a course and I am now learning Spanish.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love watching Netflix and I still watch it more than I care to admit, but I also am reading (4 books this year and counting), I am spending more time with friends and family and listening to more music. Music makes my heart happy every day. I still have my moments where I find myself slipping and starting to compare but then I remember that it’s the small things, the movies, books, trips and knowledge we acquire that make us who we are. It isn’t the diamond ring on our finger or the house we own, it is what makes us happy.
That isn’t to say the diamond rind and the house can’t make you happy (they should!) but those shouldn’t be your only source of happiness and if we remember that, then we can be happy even when something gets us down.
Your path is meant to be repaved and repaved and guess what? Repaved some more.
I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up I had a picture of my life.
I was going to be married by 22 and have kids by 30. I would have this beautiful house and the perfect job. Well, fast-forward many years and I have none of those things. Since I was roughly 17, I have changed the direction to reach my goals and I have hit so many roadblocks that I have lost count. I could pretend none of it got me down, but let’s be honest, we start to compare only when our lives are suffering and not going in the direction we wanted them to.
My paths have been repaved since college, I was going to graduate in 4 years and the following head off to teachers college and get hired by the time I was 23. Well, I changed my university degree part-way through. I decided that I needed a change and jumped on a plane to Australia and studied for a year, and it took 5 years to complete my undergrad. I ended up taking time off between my undergrad and teachers college, which I changed schools and ended up back in Australia for.
Through all of these educational setbacks, my goal of being a teacher was always there and it never changed. I had other roadblocks, personal challenges, family dramas but all of these have made me who I am now, and have given me all the fighting power I have to accomplish my goals.
With each new path, I’ve learned that my final destination has never once changed, just some of the details of it. And it’s MY destination anyway, not anyone else’s. So I can do that.
I still want to get married, I am still working towards my dream job and owning a house that I will make beautiful my own way. I have also learned that I do not want children, so that path has changed. It is 100% okay to repave your path and it is okay to totally change your destinations. We have one life and we need to make it our own. We need to look at life with big eyes and make huge goals but we must remember that these goals are only achieved if we take our time, listen to our hearts and souls and follow the paths we need to.
When we stop comparing our lives to those who have “accomplished so much more than us,” we start living again.
We focus on our wants, dreams, and goals and we find ourselves. We remember who we were and what we loved and disliked.
We remember that in order to be happy we must be happy with little accomplishments because they are the stepping-stones for reaching our destinations. We must remember to live a rich life we must go day-by-day and it’s okay to be sad but we cannot let that sadness control us.
There is so much in this world that we all love, we just need to keep in sight.