Every now and then while browsing Facebook I’ll see an update from an old colleague or high school acquaintance about how they just bought their second house, or got promoted, or have their own business up and running. I’ll stop and think to myself ‘what the hell am I doing with my life?’
Yes, sure, I’m happy for them and their achievements, but mainly I just wonder how these people can already have their shit together and be so successful when I’m still working out exactly what I want to do and my biggest success over the last month is that I got all my Christmas shopping done before December 20th (because, evidently, not rushing around on Christmas Eve is how you know you’re winning at life).
Just before I start to wallow in self pity at my obvious lack of achievements, I try to remind myself that there are two sides to every story. I remember that I’ve got a degree and a few years industry experience already up my sleeve which isn’t too bad for a 23 year old. I remember there are drop outs and drop kicks who are sitting at home getting high with not an inkling of an idea what they are doing with their lives and no desire or drive to even figure it out.
See, I’m never going to stop comparing myself to others – I think it’s something that humans instinctively do. We have been getting graded on our skills since we were 6 years old and the desire to be better than, or at least as good as, our peers is something that can motivate people and push them to be successful.
The key, however, is to make sure your comparisons are fair. Don’t try to compare yourself to everyone else in your office, if you are the youngest by 5 years. Look at people your age who are more successful and let that inspire you to get your life together. But don’t forget that there are just as many people your age who aren’t as successful as you and take a moment to appreciate where you are, how far you’ve come, and how much effort you’ve put in to get there. Be proud of that.
Most importantly, remember that you aren’t competing with your peers. Everyone has a different course in life and different obstacles to face. Focus on moving your life forward each day, whatever that may mean for you. One thing I’ve learnt is that there are still so many years ahead to get where you want to go. The important part is making sure you use that time wisely, with equal parts hard work and enjoyment.