Look at yourself, not that dude over there

Comparison kills creativity. And courage. And confidence. And probably a lot of other things, but let's end it there because I like the alliteration and grouping of three. Anyway, what I'm getting at is that when you stop focusing on what you're doing and begin to look around at what everyone else is doing, shit goes south fast.

Like, remember in school, when you took a test and felt like it was going really well until you looked up and around at the desks near you and realized that they were a page ahead of you? Or even worse...people were already turning in their work and how is that possible we just started this test and it's only been like ten minutes tops?!!??!? You know the feeling. I'd argue everyone knows it. Because, for some reason, we all decide to look up and check on how those around us are doing. Curiosity killed the cat (creativity/courage/confidence) and all that.

I'm 23 now. I don't think it's ever been harder to stop comparing myself with my peers. Social media -- I'm looking at you Facebook -- makes it even more unbearable. In my mid-early-twenties (roll with it, that's what I'm calling 23 now), I still have a million insecurities about the choices I'm making with my life. What do I want to do as my career, or what can I realistically do? Should I follow my head or my heart? Pursue passion or secure safety? Am I doing this "adult" thing right or royally messing it up?

Meanwhile, as I'm asking myself all of these major life questions, my social media feed is littered with people sharing pictures of their fianc├ęs. Status updates about the amazing jobs they work, or spectacular trips they fly off to, are distracting me. In all honesty, they make me more than a little envious. Not that I want to be engaged or married now; not that I'm sure I want to be locked in to some career path that would be difficult to get off of, if I were to change my mind; not that I'm not proud of how far I've come just because other people appear to have gone further.

The thing is, I like my life being up in the air right now. I mean, I don't love it, but the freedom of being able to change everything about my life on a whim does give me a certain sense of freedom. I can decide tomorrow to pick up and move across the country and very little in my life would be upset. How many people can say that? How many people would love to be able to do just that? Leaving my options open while I figure it all out gives me comfort. There's nothing I hate more than feeling trapped, or believing I've made some monumental mistake because I've chosen the wrong person/career/place to spend my life tied to.

I still have time. There's always time.

What's important (and I've said this in a previous post but I think it deserves restating) is to focus on what I'm doing, what I want, and where I'm going -- not the perceived success of those people I know through social media. I'd rather focus on how far I've come than how far I've left to go. Peeking over my shoulder at those around me and thinking that I haven't done enough simply because other people appear to be doing better or more is bonkers. I'm doing fine. Look at all I've done!

Besides, we all know Facebook only shows a small slice of someone's life, and often it's the prettiest picture possible. Not many are willing to share the low points of their lives. That awful day at work, the stress that comes with their "glamorous" career, or the nit-picky annoying arguments they have with their longtime boyfriend or girlfriend won't surface on social media. No one's life is as perfect as they depict it online. It's airbrushed and only fractionally real.

We all need to stop looking at that dude over there and focus on what's in front of us. It doesn't matter what they're doing; it matters what you are doing. While it may seem like others are doing better than you, they're not. They're doing different than you. Don't ever mistake the two. You are doing great and you will be fine.

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