Too often in life we try to keep up with other people. Whether it's our friends, families, or celebrities, we work so hard to gain things/positions that we truly only want so we can say we have it. I've known of people committing to life long careers just because it's what their parents wanted to them be or the two people who are so obviously wrong for each other in a ten-year relationship just so they won't have to be single. We all have been guilty of it; we all have, at least once, coveted the relationship, career, car, wardrobe, or even body of someone else. It took me a long time to start to grow past the silent competition I put myself in against people around me. I have always envisioned my life a certain way and when I began to see my dreams manifest in the lives of others, I started to work harder to achieve the things I thought were in the cards for me, not because of ambition, but for the sake of being able to say "look at what I did!" While envy/jealously crept into my mind when celebrating the accomplishments of my loved ones, I still was genuinely happy for them. It's not that I did not want them to have success or happiness, it's just that I also wanted success and happiness for myself!
For a while, I was the only one of my close friends who wasn't in a serious relationship. I felt that I deserved and was ready for a partner, not because I was in love, but simply because my friends had someone. The feelings (mostly jealously) only got worse when my friends began to get married. The fact that they were younger than me didn't make my envy any easier to deal with. I wanted a boyfriend/fiancé/husband so I entered into relationships that I subconsciously knew weren't forever. I rushed into cohabitation because I just assumed marriage would come sooner and then I'd be just like my friends and have marriage stories to bring to the daily dialogues. I accepted less than appropriate treatment in order to keep a relationship with the idea of marriage looming. I gave even less in the relationship because I was not emotionally or mentally prepared to be in an adult relationship at the time. I spent more time trying to convince everyone around me that I was in a perfect relationship than I spent actually trying to make the relationship work. You never realize how much time, energy, and stress we spend trying to stay in unhealthy situations. In the end, the relationship did not work out and I spent months trying to make "fetch happen" all the while knowing I was unhappy. I finally broke up with my partner and moved out. The failure of that relationship really influenced the way I looked at love and I began to think that maybe I simply wasn't wife material. Although I am growing each day to know my worth beyond marriage, I still yearn for a partner. But now I desire a partner because I want a companion to share my ups, downs, and all arounds with; not because I want to compete with my friends.
Relationships aren't the only part of life I tried to compete with others for. Becoming a home-owner and having a successful, meaningful career are points of envy in my life. I still am renting and probably won't be financially prepared for a mortgage until a few more years. I still feel a twinge of jealously when younger relatives and friends purchase homes, but I am learning that everything happens in your life exactly when the universe aligns it. Nothing is happenstance and rushing into things is the surest way to fail.
I always imagined myself having a blossoming career but that has not necessarily been the case. I've had jobs that taught me valuable skills and lessons, but I don't feel as though I have had the best career opportunity that allowed me to fully flourish and experience true success. Maybe it will come later in life or maybe I'll reflect back and realize I did have the job of a lifetime and did not appreciate it for the teaching moment it was in my life. I'm learning more each day that some people take a longer time to find their purpose and passion and when my time to shine arrives, I know that I will embrace it.
The funny thing about life is while you're busy comparing your accomplishments to someone else's, other people are silently envious of the things you've accomplished. I have had people tell me how they wish they had achieved the academic success I've had, while I'm wishing I had the house and/or husband they had.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't look around at my friends and family and compare myself to them but each day I'm learning that what is for you, will be for you. We have to stop trying to perfectly design our lives and simply allow some things to happen naturally. That is not to say that we shouldn't plan and set goals, but we must accept that everything we desire may not be in the cards for us. Continuing to compare ourselves to others is detrimental to our well-being and sense of self-worth. We should spend more time embracing the things that make us different from others and less time trying to keep up with anyone around us.