Every now and then I take the opportunity to take stock of the recent events of my life and attempt to then reflect and (albeit infuriatingly) measure my progress towards some semblance of adulthood and or life success. Most of the time I am much too hard on myself and revert to a cycle of chastising my lack of progress and then succumbing to demoralising comparisons to others around me who my mind deems to be further along in the path. This entire episode got me thinking about the reasons why we tend to compare our life journey to others in such a harsh and contrasting way.
It’s all too easy to look around at someone who is fitter or skinnier than me, or someone else who is far more educated and professionally well established than I am. The truth of it is that there will always be someone who is further along in their career than me and has a greater influence on their professional sphere than I do. But I also forget that it works the other way too. If I were to change my thinking on all of this and look the other way I would see that there are probably those who look at me and feel the same levels of absurd inadequacy towards themselves. Perhaps when they glance my way they see someone who is further along the x, y or z path than they are, so in reality isn’t it really all just relative?
In any way you look at it, these types of comparisons are destined to ensure that we never measure up. No two human beings are the same and no two journeys through life will ever be identical and therefore consistently comparable. But the truth of it is that is what makes this existence so invigorating and full of possibilities. Each and every one of us is born into this world as an individual. As we follow our path in life, different groups and influences will shape who we are and the outlook we have towards our individual and collective being. Some of us will follow in the footsteps of our parents or those close to us and others will choose to pave their own path. However, attempting to compare one’s own progress on a uniquely individual voyage to someone else’s who has chosen to take an entirely different direction seems like sheer lunacy.
On each of our journeys we will encounter distinctive and differing challenges, hurdles and setbacks. Some of us will come up against more of these and at higher frequencies than others. Others may have luck on their side and encounter these either later in life or inconsistently throughout it. Either way the means in which we attempt to tackle these issues will ultimately determine our life’s existence and the truth is ‘success’ is an entirely subjective idea anyway. Furthermore, maybe that isn’t what life is about at all. Perhaps instead it’s about the experience whereby we shouldn’t be looking behind or sideways for comparative examples of achievement but reflect within ourselves about how far we have come from the people we were just yesterday.