This is your friendly reminder to stop comparing yourself and your life to someone else’s highlight reel.
Listen, love. I know, I know, I KNOW it is hard not to scroll through your various social media feeds and ask, “What am I doing wrong in my life?” In fact, I asked that just last week. The unfortunate question came days after fruitless job searching, being in meetings that zapped my energy, and watching all the seemingly, happy people online. In the moment, I meant it with my entire being.
Why didn’t I become an accountant or a programmer? Why don’t I have any rich friends? If only I was a little more tech-savvy, creative, braver…
Accountant or programmer? Seriously! I hate numbers! Hate them. Numbers and I have not been on good terms since 5th grade fractions. And the two programming courses I took in my life nearly drove me nuts.
Honestly, there are a billion ways to compare and find yourself lacking, especially if you are measuring yourself against social media. But please keep in mind that influencers, content creators, businesses and entrepreneurs, and every day platform users all have a specific purpose for being online and posting. Sometimes that purpose is to make us all marvel at the awesomeness, which could lead to a little twinge of covetousness.
I have two degrees in human behavior. I know this stuff. I carefully chose my path and honed the skills I have. Yet, I am still not impervious to highlight reel envy and imposter syndrome.
Now, using someone’s story as inspiration is completely different from using their story to degrade, demean, and devalue yourself. Feeling motivated to see the world because of a travel blogger is okay. I bet that’s the goal for many of them. Watching a travel blogger’s reel and feeling like an uncultured loser is not acceptable.
I had to remind myself this week and now I am reminding you. First and foremost, you are you. However difficult your journey may be, you are the only you in this world which makes you invaluable. There is no need to and nothing to gain from comparing yourself to others. All it does is rob you of your joy.
Also, let’s all keep in mind that what we see or hear is only the version of the story they divulged. Even the most transparent folks are still conscious of which details they share. Meaning, the reality is not as glamorous as the curated 20-second clips.
When you start to question your qualifications and every choice you’ve ever made, I find it is important to remind yourself of the why. Not just why you started, but also why you made the choices you made and how you got where you are. Lord knows we don’t all start in the same place. Sometimes we make the best of the hand we were dealt. Then later down the road we often feel discouraged when we start to believe we should have reached certain milestones.
The accountant example I gave is real. I actually said that out loud and meant it. Equally true is my love/hate relationship with math. I do not want to be CPA; that is not my why. I want to help people reach their goals, and higher education helped me achieve that. And every career decision I’ve made since undergrad was geared toward my goal of helping people. The fact that I suddenly feel unqualified for the world outside of education is my problem…and probably mostly untrue. I need to push past my fear of the unknown AND look for jobs within my skill set.
Sometimes you have to check yourself, revisit your why, and adjust accordingly, just like I did.
I’m not saying comparison is bad. It’s human and can be healthy; at the very least it is normal. What is not healthy is letting the comparison spark doubt, jealousy, and dis-ease within you. So remember, motivation is good. Doubt and jealousy are bad.