“Shouldn’t I be married by now?”
“Why haven’t I gotten my dream job yet?”
“Everyone is popping out babies and I’m still single, broke and living with my parents.”
Do you ever catch yourself saying these things to yourself and feel like you’re behind everyone else? Like really behind.
You watch your friends reaching milestones that you’re still nowhere near reaching and it just looks like it’s so easy for them. To top it off they’re getting exactly the things that you want.
“So what’s wrong with me?” – you might say.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. This is just simply your story and that’s theirs.
1. You’re on your Unique Path
What we have to understand is we are all on our own path and this isn’t just some excuse to make us feel better for not having achieved the things we want or be where everyone else is.
There is a reason and more often, several reasons why some people reach ‘milestones’ faster than others and it’s because we all come from different walks of life and different backgrounds, opportunities, advantages and disadvantages.
It is illogical to compare any two people and expect them to follow the same life plan, the same goals and achievements at the same time.
I was compared to someone a while back about not being on the property ladder yet. “That girl is 25 and she owns two apartments, you spend all your money on travel when you could have had a house by now!”
This is real criticism that I got. And I could have thought “oh damn, that’s true, she’s 25, I’m 25, why am I so behind?”
It’s so easy to let ourselves think this way, we would just internalise that statement without dissecting it, and let it make us feel awful about ourselves. But if we actually think about it a little more closely we would see that it is ridiculous.
I realised it’s not as simple as 1+1=2, it’s just not that linear. There are a million other factors at play.
To name a few, she had been working for the past 3 years and earning a stable and annually increased income.
Me – I had just recently graduated after studying at university for 7 years while she studied for 3.
She had a mahoosive deposit from her parents. I didn’t.
There is no way on earth that I could ever expect myself to buy a house at that age just because someone else has done it. On that note, it’s great that she took advantage of her position and bought those two apartments!
Not to mention, we all have different goals and priorities. For this girl, it was a no-brainer to buy property, but for someone else in the same position it would be to pay for their kid’s tuition with that money.
Remember your priorities and your wants. What might be the ‘right’ thing to do according to people, culture, society, what everyone else is doing, may not necessarily the same for you.
The problem is you would still feel the stress, pressure and as though you’re falling behind when you succumb to these comparisons, even though in reality you actually don’t really care!
Me – I spend on travel and it’s what I was choose to do.
2. Appreciate your Detours in Life
Some of the best times in my travels have been when I planned to visit one place and took the wrong turn and ended up seeing incredible beauty. When I was in Rome, I put in the Spanish Steps on my Google maps and followed. I got a little distracted (stopped for gelato) and ended up walking the wrong way and found a beautiful piazza (Piazza Navona) which I wouldn’t have known to visit if it wasn’t for my detour.
So yes, it may take you longer to find the right person for you, or to get that university degree but you’ve now learnt something that the person who did it in half the time didn’t.
You’re limiting the amount of things you’ve actually gained when you’re only thinking of achieving that one thing. I’m sure if you reflect on it, you’d find lots of other wins and blessings in the journey so far.
Being a little ‘off-course’ isn’t always a bad thing and getting to your destination (job, marriage, kids, success or any personal goal you value) isn’t always better when it’s reached sooner.
3. Trust in the Timing of your Life
All the decisions you made so far were based on where you were mentally, emotionally, financially and so on and at the time that’s what you felt was best.
You may not be exactly where you want to be yet, but this is only the plan you had for what you think is best for you.
You don’t know what detours, challenges, waiting period is truly best for you and your life because you just don’t have the knowledge of all things.
There was a time I thought having a job sooner was better for me and I was complaining about how behind I was compared to others and how I needed the money to do the things I wanted.
I was miserable and desperate. But many years later, I learnt that there were so many things that would have gone so wrong if I had taken a job at that time (like not being able to handle a job at all!) and little did I know at the time, I was being saved from it.
Sometimes we get this insight and sometimes we don’t. But just take one example of this in your life where you’ve been able to see how much better it was for you when that it didn’t work out at the time you wanted it to. Appreciate it and remember it every time you feel like you’re behind.
4. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
One of the quickest ways to stop feeling that anxiety and hopelessness about where you are right now is to stop comparing yourself to others.
Sadly, this is a real sickness of our culture. We scroll away on our phones looking at people’s highlight reel and comparing to our every day struggle.
It makes it seem like things are easy for others and difficult for us.
The saying ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ is so darn true. Comparing yourself is the surest way of treading all over your self-esteem and leaving you ugly crying yourself to sleep.
Stop watching people, stop scrolling their social media feeds, particularly the ones you tend to keep tabs on.
In person, don’t delve into people’s lives too much in conversation. Catch yourself when you’re investing too much time and thought in other people’s business.
Focus on your growth and your path instead.
It takes self-awareness and discipline to stop yourself but this will no doubt make you feel so much better, more alive and ready to do the things you need to get to where you want to be. Read this for more tips on how to stop comparing.
Where you are is exactly where you need to be.
Trust in the process that got you where you are today and you’ll trust in all that will come for you in your future.
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All that you want is already within you. Reflect, know yourself and create the best version of you and the life that you want.