Every year, as December approaches, I see many people trying to make the most of the last few days of the year. Messages like “It’s not late; you can still achieve the goals you set for this year” start popping up, and it seems like there is a rush to make sure everything we planned to achieve on the 1st of January gets a tick before the 31st of December. The rush is real; for some the timeline is unrealistic; for others, it is just depressing to think about.
You see, as this time of the year approaches, there are people who take stock of their lives. These people look at their lives in December and try to determine how far they moved between January and December. Did they even manage to achieve one goal on their list? Did they manage to work hard at that goal they set even if it failed? If it failed, why did it fail and how? And of course none of this is bad until they move to the wrong side of things and start to peep over the fence:
Why is Sally a success and I’m not?
How come Paul got that fancy job that comes with a car and a chauffeur and I’m still here trying to get my boss to pay me on time so I don’t skip rent?
I have all the degrees I need, yet I cannot find a good job. Something is wrong with me.
My life is just behind. I have to play catch-up every single day.
Many of these thoughts are echoed in words; and although well-veiled, a discerning ear and mind can tell what the basis for sadness and the aura of failure is – comparison.
Many people love to engage in comparison, and for the life of me, I may never be able understand it as I once did. You see I have come to learn that comparison is the hallmark of foolishness, and the mother of many poisonous emotions including envy, jealousy, bitterness and even depression; afterall, comparison is the full package of Ali Baba and the forty thieves subtly aimed at stealing our joy without us realizing it. It is perfectly OK to want to look at others and use them as inspiration to propel ourselves forward when we lose steam. But it is NOT OK for us to compare ourselves to those people.
You must understand that your life is a different book from Sally’s, Paul’s or whoever it is that gives you a headache whenever you think of how well they are doing. Chapter one of your life has a different storyline compared to someone else’s, and there is a reason your life has been written out the way it is. There is a reason why you are being forced to learn certain life lessons and fight certain life battles. There is a reason you are being made to work your way to the top while it seems others are gliding past you with the skill of a formula one car racer. Everything you are facing now is preparing you for that future that plays in your mind’s eye when you dare to close your eyes and dream.
You need not compare yourself to anyone; you are not behind. You are on a different race track, facing different hurdles, dealing with different rules. It is really insane to look at someone else’s race track and wonder why you can’t just jump onboard theirs and live like they live. If you live like they live, you will never become who you should be. You might be successful, no doubt. But you will be a copy of someone else, rather than the authentic success you ought to be.
You are not behind; you are on a different course. Embrace this course and make the very best of it. A positive attitude, perseverance, and constantly renewing yourself to ensure you are relevant will get you farther than following the rules of a pre-determined playbook ever will. The growth one experiences from going through adversity cannot be gained by simply reading a book or listening to a motivational speaker. So stop detesting where you are right now, and how your life is playing out. Rather embrace this phase. You will need the stories when you are successful.
Next time you see your ‘Sallys’ or ‘Pauls’, be genuinely happy for them, listen to the insights they have to share about their journey (don’t assume arrogance on their part simply because you feel inferior or stuck), take the lessons you can and ditch the ones that are of no use to you. Improve yourself in every way, keep seeking opportunities and remember to always make the most of the opportunities you get. You are not behind. Life is not a competition; it is an individual race. Your success is defined by what you want it to be, not by what others think it should be. XOXO