We often feel inclined to compare ourselves to others. Our minds are constantly searching for confirmation that we are "doing it right" or that we are where we "should" be in life. This need for confirmation or validation often causes us to engage in social comparison. Social Comparison is simply the act of comparing certain characteristics of our own lives to others as a means to self-evaluate (Buunk & Gibbons, 2007). While this is not intended to be a bad thing, it can often lead to negative feelings about oneself. Social comparison is how we learn. We exist and learn in relation to other people. We learn about what is socially or culturally appropriate by observing the behaviors of others. However, this can become negative when we harshly judge ourselves because we are comparing our lives to someone else's.
If you're like me and other humans out here, I am pretty sure that you have found yourself comparing yourself to Jenny and how you wish you had her cheek bones or maybe you've compared yourself to Robert and how ambitious he is and was able to buy his first home by 20. Nevertheless, regardless of the context in which you have compared yourself to others, it can become emotionally taxing really quickly if we do not find a healthy balance in our comparison to others. It is easy to fall victim to social comparison when we live in a world where social media has become the norm. We connect to others, network, keep in touch and pretty much do everything through a virtual world. This can be unhealthy if we develop distortions based on the glimpse that we see of another person's life. Social media does not portray the entire picture and even if it did, it's unrealistic to compare one's life to another person's life. We are all uniquely different with different backgrounds, experiences, opportunities, and all have different purposes. God uniquely designed each and every one of us with individuality and assigned a different purpose to our lives. While we all inhabit the same earth, we are simultaneously on different journeys, and it is unrealistic to think that we should all have an identical journey and timeline.
I don't care if society tells you that you should be married by twenty-five, own a home by thirty, graduate from college by 20 or that you "should" have traveled to several different countries by now. I don't care if society tells you that you're odd because you don't have children by now, haven't dated, or that you're a fool for still holding onto a dream that hasn't come to fruition (yet). Your journey was uniquely written for you. You are the main character in your story. Everyone else is just an extra to help fill the pages. Their story matters in their book. In your book, it is about your journey and how well you travel it, what you learn from it and how it leads you to the grand purpose in the end.
In my conversation with someone, I pulled out two different books. One was called "Girl wash your face" and the other was called "I didn't see that coming". They were both written by the same author, Rachel Hollis. I turned to Chapter 2 in both of the books. One chapter was called "I'll start tomorrow" and the other chapter was called "stop questioning your suffering". Neither of those chapters are about the same thing or the same experience. News Flash, they aren't supposed to be. They are two different books with two different chapters. They don't have the same purpose. Even though they were written by the same author, their pages, chapters, and meaning are very different. That's the same with people. Just as absurd as it is to compare the chapters of two completely different books, it is just as absurd to compare your life to another person's life and judge your life based off someone else's experience.
Trust that your journey will lead you to where you were always meant to be. You may not get there as swiftly as you want. You may encounter countless obstacles along the way but isn't that what makes the best stories? Each chapter in your life serves a purpose and is building the greatest story that could ever unfold. You don't have to worry about racing to your story's end, comparing your story to someone else's to see if its right, all you have to do is trust the ONE who wrote your story. The masterful author who wrote each of our stories before we even knew we had one. No one story is any better than anyone else's. It's just different.
If you are feeling discouraged about your journey, begin to believe that you already have the things that you desire. It has already been promised by the author that we will receive our heart's desires.
If you're feeling discouraged, these are some uplifting things that you might want to read:
Motivational Scriptures & Quotes
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Proverbs 3: 5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Psalm 37: 4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
"When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."- The Alchemist