Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
We live in a competitive world, and there are a lot of instances in which we may find ourselves comparing our lives with those of our peers. When you reach a certain age, you can start to struggle with your own situation simply because it doesn’t look like someone else’s.
Most people forget that we are all making progress on our own path, and success does not look the same for everybody. We get on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, and we focus on what we don’t have or what we haven’t accomplished, and our confidence can take a hit. Your friends are all moving forward in the world, and your own life seems to be running in place. Feeling behind in life creates pressure and can lead to depression, low self-esteem, and self-doubt.
Social Media is a Highlight Reel
When you open up Facebook and see what your friends are doing, you need to keep in mind that that is often not real life. You are most likely only looking at the positive side of someone’s life. Your Facebook feed is showing you pictures of your friend with their kids, their spouses, their perfect family, and everything they achieve. They only show you the positive things.
Everyone Feels Behind in Life Sometimes
No one posts on Facebook that they feel like they are on the wrong path. No one broadcasts that they are having a bad day. You are only seeing the highlight reel of the people who claim to be your friends. You see one positive moment in time.
The people on your feed are most likely also experiencing their own moments of doubt, and when they see what their friends post, they also sometimes feel the pressure of what they perceive to be societal norms. Your friends also have moments where they are behind in life. Maybe they show off their kids and their careers because they are trying to compensate for what others have posted.
Don’t compare lives when you look at people on Facebook. Facebook is not an accurate depiction of real life.
The Pressure for Love and Marriage
Most societies put it in our heads that we should fall in love, get married, and start a family by a certain age. However, there’s also an immense amount of pressure to know exactly what we want to do with our lives in terms of educationally and professionally and also have our entire adult lives figured out by the time we hit our thirties.
These are not realistic expectations, but the pressure is there, nonetheless. Dating is hard, and it looks different than it used to. Now people use online dating sites, and it’s more difficult than ever since the pandemic to meet people we might have a romantic interest in.
Not Everyone Wants the Same Thing in Life
On the other hand, some people don’t want to get married. While it’s a great idea for some people, there are plenty of people who want to feel free, focus on a career, surround themselves with friends, and worry about their own lives instead of anyone else’s. We need to make sure that these people, who want to forge their own path in life without the desire for love or marriage, are encouraged to do so.
If you are one of these people, and if your honest hope is that you can create a future that benefits you, then do your best to stop caring what anyone else thinks you should do. Not all single people are lonely. Many single adults are quite confident. They work hard, they have love for the people in their lives, and these people matter and deserve happiness just as much as the people who are focused on love, marriage, kids, and family.
You don’t have to have a romantic relationship to be a valuable human being deserving of love and respect from other people.
The Pressure of School
Sometimes we focus so much on what other people want us to be that we don’t stop to think about what might benefit us the most. Just because your friend may own their own business and spent a decade in college doesn’t mean that you have to have the same dream.
Your ideas of what you want for your future matter, and you should never compare yourself to other people in this area because what makes you happy may not make someone else happy, and vice versa. You can get ahead in life financially due to a successful career, but does it matter all that much if you are miserable, have no freedom in your life because you’re tied to a job you don’t like, and don’t feel like you can move forward?
Money is necessary, but you need to realize that it is not all that matters. Your feelings about what you want, what your passions are, and your progress in life are what matter.
Not everyone goes to school to make progress in life. You don’t have to have a college degree to have a sense of purpose. College is an excellent opportunity for some, but it is not the only choice, and the point of life is to make your own way. Comparing yourself to others who went the traditional route will only leave you feeling behind.
Here is an example of how you can end up feeling behind in life, even when you are content with your career.
Jessica left college in her third semester to take over her grandmother’s small diner when her grandmother passed. She worked at the diner part-time since high school and learned the ins and outs from her grandparents. Jessica loved the diner and knew that one day it would be left to her.
She quit college for business management and dove right into running the business that was left to her. She was fairly successful and led a team of great employees, but she still felt behind the curve because she didn’t succeed in the same way her peers did. Her life had been full of “learn as you go” moments rather than in-class teaching, and she was constantly reminded of it.
She would like to stop feeling this way, but maintaining confidence is hard when you have dinner with your friends once a week, and they continuously bring up going back to graduate school or how much their education has helped them in the business world. Jessica knows that her chosen path isn’t the wrong one, but she still leaves these dinners feeling like the least successful person among them, even though she’s not. Feeling behind takes a toll, and when Jessica is honest with herself, she doesn’t even enjoy the dinners with friends anymore because of it.
In the above example, you see a person who has found success because she worked hard for it. She had to get there a different way than her traditionally educated peers, but she didn’t rest; she worked hard. She didn’t regret the past decisions regarding going to work when she inherited the diner.
College degrees are nice, but so are vocational certificates, trade schools, and on-the-job training. Allowing ourselves to get caught up in what another person did to attain success is an invitation to misery. Be proud of what you have accomplished, no matter how different your journey was to get there.
Live By Your Own Standards
It’s easy and natural to compare yourself to what someone else has accomplished or gained. But it’s not always healthy. We hear parents ask their grown children all the time, “When are you going to get married and give me some grandbabies?”
While this question is probably not meant to hurt us when it’s asked, sometimes we can’t help but feel less than because of it. Some of us don’t want children. Some of us aren’t ready for children. Some of us have fertility issues and cannot have children right now but are planning for it. People can ask whatever they want of us, but we don’t have to give it any validation, and we don’t have to feel less than because societal norms push these things on us.
Less people than ever are able to buy a house these days. If you’re 30 and still in a small apartment, but you’re happy, then that’s okay. You aren’t behind. If you still live with your parents, but you’re happy, and you’re not a burden on your family, then that’s okay.
You aren’t behind. If you still have roommates because you can’t afford a place of your own, travel a lot for work, and don’t feel the need to own a home somewhere or any other reason, then that’s okay. You aren’t behind. You’re exactly where you need to be. As long as you are content and always striving for personal growth by your own standards, you’re not behind.
Marriage is a tradition that some people choose to leave by the wayside. If you’re an adult and you’re not married and don’t have plans to get married, then that’s okay. If you are with someone but you’re not planning on ever getting married, that’s okay.
If you choose to live alone because marriage doesn’t suit you, or you want to focus on your career, or any other reason that’s healthy for you and gives you happiness, then it’s fine. People automatically assume you’re unhappy if you’re 35 and not married, and that’s simply not the case a lot of the time.
Happiness Means Something Different to Each of Us
If your idea of happiness is a picket fence, a two-car garage, a career that your college education helped you obtain, a spouse, a few kids, and a nice car, then that’s wonderful. You should work towards that goal, and if you have already reached that goal, then congratulations. Never stop setting personal goals for yourself, and allow yourself to continue to grow as a person so that you can always be the best you that you can be.
But if your idea of happiness is an apartment shared with a friend or alone, working a trade or blue-collar job, not having kids or getting married, and traveling the world in your downtime, then that’s wonderful, too. Don’t let the standards other people live by dictate your happiness.
You set the standards of what happiness is for you. Just like you may look at your married friend with three kids, a lovely house, and a dental practice as the most unlucky and boring man on the planet, he sets his own standards for his own happiness, and you should not judge him.
Social media is often detrimental to the way we feel about ourselves. We feel pressured to see what everyone has, what everyone has accomplished, and what everyone is doing. Please remember that those sites show you the highlight reel of people’s lives, not the truth.
If you find that you are made to feel inferior, left behind, or unhappy when you scroll through your feed, then it may be time to uninstall your app, block the website, and stop looking at the fake lives your “friends” are leading, and focus on your own.
If you cannot prevent feeling behind in life, no matter what you do to create your own standards and ignore what other people are doing and expect of you, then you may need to seek treatment from a professional. The way you feel may be a symptom of something deeper and more serious, like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder.
Therapy can help you to get back to the person you want to be. Whatever that looks like for you. An affordable and convenient option to find a suitable therapist is Online-Therapy where you can speak with a therapist from the comfort of your own home.