Young professional (YP) life seems to come in waves where we compare ourselves to others a little more often than we should.
The first comes immediately following university. You begin to notice who’s getting jobs, who isn’t, who’s doing a Masters… and who isn’t doing much of anything aside from smoking bongs in their parents’ basement.
Then there’s the whole marriage thing, as friends slowly start dropping off the map with each “engaged” Facebook status update.
But by the time the marriage thing happens, you are expected to have the career thing locked down. Oh, and likely think about owning property on your own. Or at least be saving for one. Your friends are, after all.
Then, of course, come the babies… and the lifelong cycle of keeping up with the Jones’ and their three kids and dog. Let’s stop right there.
Here’s why you need to stop comparing yourself to others right now:
1. It’s a total waste of online time.
It’s one thing to remain intrigued and inspired by someone’s career or life but another to spend more than five minutes glued to anyone’s social media profile. Remember, few people’s actual lives are as great as their social media profile would suggest and their profiles are the product of a very curated and calculated strategy. Going through album after album on someone else’s life can take up the same amount of time as something you could be doing to better your life – like that yoga class.
2. Everyone has a different backstory that affects their paths.
Not to get all cliche and “everything happens for a reason,” but everyone has a unique back story and set of circumstances that have impacted where they are (and aren’t) in life. You could feel the furthest thing from an actual adult by 30, but the months you spent travelling, the successful career change, and the epic, care-free nights out are all worth it. Your childhood best friend may have a six figure job and kid, but they also took over (a.k.a. were handed) a family business.
3. The anxiety distracts from your own end goals.
Comparing your career, relationship, bank account and car to those of your friends, acquaintances and frenemies can cause that somewhat sickening feeling of anxiety as your mind races with ways you can have the same. The answer? Good old-fashioned focus and hard work. Don’t focus on the end result of that fancy new car or house in that hot part of the city. Though they have their idols, the best Hollywood actors don’t begin solely with an agenda to be famous; they pound the pavement, work odd jobs and do it for the love of the craft. The fame comes as a by-product. As long as you remain focused and committed, all the rest will fall into place.
4. Jealousy doesn’t feel good.
Nothing feels great about being in a jealous state of mind. Getting all worked up about what he or she has may be enough to make you a tad envious… whether you choose to admit it or not. The worst part of being jealous is that, as opposed to times where you actually want to embrace feeling sad or are justifiably mad, nobody wants to actually be jealous. And it’s difficult to control. Anyone with a jealous ex can attest that jealousy is not exactly the most becoming trait.
5. You have better things to talk about.
We’re all guilty of a little harmless gossip among friends – but you have better things to talk about over dinner, coffee or even the office water cooler than what’s happening in other people’s lives. Right?
6. They aren’t perfect either.
All these young professionals that seem to have more than you are probably comparing themselves to other people as well when at home in their sweats and on their laptops. Remember, some of the most seemingly well-rounded people can be the most insecure once you get to know them. We’re always (almost refreshingly) shocked when a new friend or even seasoned and respected interview subject reveals this. Just as you wasted 30 minutes of your day analyzing that person’s profile or life, they could have very well done the same with someone else’s (or even yours, for that matter).
What we’re referring to here is comparing yourself to others in a way that leads to feelings of inferiority and even anxiety. To be clear, there is a fine line between that and admiring and following the personal and professional successes of others. There’s nothing wrong with that. And, seriously, there’s nothing wrong with you. So stop.