Ideally, there’s a point in your life sooner than later when you reflect upon your achievements and feel really good about yourself for accomplishing stuff.
Was it getting into a career you somewhat enjoy? Was it having a child and giving them a great start to life? Maybe volunteering regularly or donating money to causes you believe in has been a highlight. Whatever it may be, the idea is to see it, acknowledge it, be grateful for it, and feel good about it.
The problem is, that’s never good enough.
You spend your entire lives chasing a goal you somehow believe to be tangible and just outside arm’s reach. Money. The perfect wife or husband. Validation. The list goes on. And at the same time you’re chasing these goals, you’re running away from what’s in front of you. Almost as if you knew what you were doing, you masterfully refuse to accept reality of what your life is comprised of right now.
Congratulations, you just played yourself.
You enter what I call the “coast zone”. Believing you can’t match the success of others, it’s time to relegate yourself to a life you believe most people are living. In a time dominated by the rat race of going to a job you don’t like just to go home and repeat the cycle, you’re going to miss out on a lot of valuable time by doing nothing. And logging into Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat are part of that nothing.
As cool as social media phenoms look, it’s a carefully crafted attempt to present a version of life that is a) unrealistic to sustain on a daily basis, b) gets them the most likes possible, and piggybacking off that, c) gets them the most validation possible. Do you really think a traveling account showing you the undiscovered corners of the world is going to post a picture of them microwaving some crap leftovers? By the way, some schmuck probably runs that account who has maybe traveled to Kansas and Iowa. People somehow consider social media to be real life. The people you know will post their best pictures. The people you don’t know will also post their best pictures. The other 95% of their life will not be posted. Of course, we’ve all got those few friends who actually do post the mundane 95%. Lo and behold, we hate them. Why? Because it’s boring. Also known as real life.
Once you start comparing your own life’s accomplishments and activities to what you see around you, you’re toast. Here’s the good and bad news about that. The bad: you’re burned crispy. The good: you can un-crisp yourself, but it takes a little self-determination and focus.
Here’s a few ideas to help put you in your place
When a super good looking millenial travels the world with their obviously perfect partner and appears to have an obviously perfect relationship, you should immediately call BS. This is generally not real life. A select few will fall into professions or hobbies that allow them the opportunity. It’s not impossible, and it’s pertinent to understand that. But it’s also your full-time job to realize it probably won’t be you. When you follow a ton of accounts like this, it gets in your head.
Why submit yourself to getting lost in amazing pictures of exotic destinations just to look up and realize you’re sitting in a cubicle at a job you don’t even like? Typically, this is the answer I get: “well, it’s motivation”. Here’s your motivation: you’re getting a one-way ticket to feeling crappy about yourself. If you want inspiration, put up a vision board with a picture of a beach. Being forced to question your apparently boring and mundane life (in other words, a normal life) on a fairly regular basis defeats the purpose of living the one you have now.
Their posts may look cool, but they’ve got their own set of issues that you wouldn’t be jealous of. Everyone is struggling on some level. You’re only seeing the face value.
But there will also always be someone smarter, better looking, wealthier, more intelligent, funnier, more successful, and all around better than you at everything. And the best part is, some people were handed all that without even trying. Sound depressing? If you can let that soak in and not get frustrated, you might be onto something.
At a minimum, take stock of what you do have, are actually close to getting, or have acquired in the past. Notice what you’ve been able to accomplish and what you are accomplishing. Do this often. Take special note of where you are currently, and the things you are grateful for right now. If you see someone struggling physically or mentally, feel compassion and then think about how lucky you are not to be there. Thousands, if not millions, would love to be in your place.
You love that last line don’t you? It’s the classic “get over yourself, people have it worse”. Problem is, it’s true. Grow up and refer back to what I said earlier. Everyone at some point or another has issues to deal with. It’s called life, and it’s a rollercoaster. There is a world out there that sucks beyond what you can imagine. And millions are trapped in it. You are in a blessed position at some level, take note of it.
If you want to move forward in life, you have to accept where you are right now. Comparing yourself will only have you chasing after something that you may never get. And if you do somehow “catch” whatever you’re looking for, your constant state of comparison will just have you running after something else. See where this is going?