When you graduate, you’re inundated with other people’s apparent successes. This can lead to comparison of your own life to others’.
Ever feel like someone is living your life? They’re living in your dream city. Doing the job you’ve always wanted. They’re doing everything you’re not. We’ve all heard and resonated with the words of Olivia Rodrigo’s jealousy – “I’m so sick of myself, rather be anyone else”.
This was a feeling I can say has recently happened quite often in my life particularly after leaving university. If one was to read my previous article you would know that after university, I was confused about the things I wanted to do and the career I wanted to pursue. That being said however a part of me did know that I wanted success. To have the glamour of having a fabulous job in a new city, same as any new graduate.
The Comparison Problem
Because of that I became incredibly critical of myself. I spent hours on social media which at that time was filled with posts about degree qualifications and achievements. Things all my peers were achieving while I had just only begun a part time retail job. This was something I found shameful in comparison and would often avoid talking about when asked about my current job. I began to build this daily obsession of constantly checking up on what others were doing while constantly berating myself. I was trapped in the cycle of constant comparison.
However, that being said whilst in that space in my life I often forgot to look and appreciate the work and journey it took for those people I would watch daily to get to where they were. It was easier to discredit their achievements by equating it to luck, because I had not seen the behind-the-scenes effort which was made.
This realisation for me was the first step in changing my perspective, where instead of drawing envy and sadness I began to draw inspiration. As a quote I found the other day said, “the difference between taking inspiration and getting lost in the comparison trap, one is motivating, the other is suffocating”. So how does one do this? To be honest I’m still figuring it out myself. However, I’ve found healthier ways to deal with comparison and envy over the past year. So here are some of the steps I’ve began to implement.
Less comparison, more learning
Firstly, as touched on above I began to look for the process and journey people took. I started to enquire – ask people what their journey or path has been to get to where they are. I picked up tips and tricks, explored paths I had not yet considered, I really started to have an appreciation for the work it took for people to live the dream. In doing this I was able to not only discover a field that I may be interested in but formulate a plan about how to go about it. Through this I was able to sign up for various courses and look at different work opportunities. Something that most likely wouldn’t have happened if I had not changed my negative mindset, so I could stop watching someone live my dream and start to create my own.
Use social media with caution
Secondly limit your social media intake or transform the way you use social media. I’m sure the tale of limiting social media is something we’ve all heard more than once. But, in all seriousness, taking time off is imperative. I muted my LinkedIn for two months and scrubbed my Tik Tok of people I felt didn’t really add value. I watched a lot more reels and stories on things I was interested in and wanted to achieve. My time on social media became more productive. This later opened me up to following and joining a lot of Instagram and Facebook networking groups. I was able to find even more tips and employment opportunities.
Take your time
Thirdly take your time. These words used to annoy me a lot growing but we all genuinely need to hear it a lot more. As people we sometimes are very harsh with ourselves especially when making comparisons. For a long time I followed this timeline of how I believed things should go. I thought you finished high school, you went to university, you finished and went into this glamorous job bought a house by 25 and everything would be grand. I had no regard for my mental health, life’s challenges and how one every had their own paths which they walked at their own pace. Once I began to understand this it took away the daunting feeling of having a clock over my head and having to figure it out all now when realistically I’m only 22.
So, I guess what I’m saying is as easy as it is to see others successes as your failures, it’s important to not only to chastise yourself but to grow and gain inspiration and ideas from others. So that you can begin to live your dream.
Written by Oratile Mookodi.