I am about to turn 33. That is still young. I know I am young, and I know I still have plenty of time on this planet, or at least I hope so anyway. The problem is, for all of my adult life I have felt like a complete failure. There are so many factors at play, but I would say that one of the big ones is falling into the comparison trap.
Comparison is a dangerous beast, and it is all too easy to allow ourselves to be devoured by it.
Until recently, I never had any idea what I wanted to do with my life. I struggled in college. My focus was all out of whack, and I also did not have the drive. It was extremely difficult to stay focused in gen ed classes what I really had no idea what the hell I wanted to do. So, I finally dropped out. I started working full time, and over the years I would occasionally go back and take a class, and I just couldn’t focus, and I just didn’t care.
The problem was, without a direction or any education, I have felt completely lost and useless as a man. I have worked countless shitty jobs just to pay the basic bills. Meanwhile, I am looking and seeing people my age growing into their careers, and actually being able to support themselves. That has been a really dangerous outlook for me to have, but oh I have had it, and I know many others who have admitted to this.
It doesn’t help anyone that with the ride of social media, we spend a large part of our existence looking at what other people are doing. I haven’t even thought about social media in that aspect before, but that really is what we are doing. Yeah, it’s cool to communicate and keep up with friends, family, your favorite artists, communities, etc. However, we can easily let social media turn into that comparison beast that devours us, as we look through the filters photos on instagram, or the cool check-ins on facebook, and wish that we had that life.
The problem with comparison is we don’t know the story behind who or what we compare ourselves to. Yeah, someone may have a cool job or at least a stable career, but how hard was their struggle to get there? Or what life struggles do they have now? Struggle never ends, regardless of status, our financial situation, or anything else you can think of.
What about the person posting all the cool photos from their travels, or the place they live that you wish you lived? Well, how hard did that person work their ass off for that vacation, or what sacrifices did they make for that move? There is always a story. No one likes to share the shitty part of their existence with people, even in real life. If you strike up conversations with people, for the most part they won’t share the shit, unless it’s a deep conversation with someone you know or are getting to know.
We only see other people, other places, and other scenarios through a filter. We don’t see the shit. Naturally, we can feel like we are the only ones in the shit, but trust me, everyone is in it or has been in it at some point. Life can be a bitch to us all, but we don’t have to let that control us.
Bringing this all back to my situation…
I have been limiting my time on social media. It’s a bit difficult when I am trying to run a website and the social media accounts for it, but I make it work. I have timers set on my computer and phone, so after a certain amount of time, my access is cut off for the day. Since some of my time is work related, I have to make sure I use that time wisely.
I know that I am not a failure now. I have been figuring things out, as far as career goals and life goals. I have a job right now that I really enjoy, and I am starting to get some freelance web developer work as I continue to learn and figure out more of that stuff. I have also began some online creative writing and blogging courses (I just started those, so don’t judge my progress based on this article 😀 ), learning about podcasting, and I am also trying to educate myself more on mental health issues, as that is the most important part of all of this.
Life is really just one long work in progress. We are always learning, growing, falling, climbing, moving, etc. It has its ups and downs. We are all going through it. We have our fun filtered moments, our silent shit moments, and everything in between. Life is not a sexy instagram photo or interesting facebook post. Life is just all the moments in our days. I have to remind myself to slow down and enjoy it, or at least sort things out, depending on what I am dealing with at the time.
There is no need to compare yourself to others. My goal now is to stop feeding the fucking beast and live out my own story, unfiltered.
To read more on studies linking social media to depression and other mental health issues, here are some articles if you are interested.