By: Kateland Kirk
I was once told by one of my favorite professors that “you cannot compare your chapter 3 to someone else’s chapter 30.” As my time of being a college student rapidly approaches its end I have been thinking about this a lot. It has been in the forefront of my brain because, like I so often do, I am stressing about what is next. Oftentimes, this leads me to unfairly comparing myself and my story to those around me. These constant comparisons also lead me to feel like I am overlooking all the happy in my own life. With this being said, I have made the decision to try and re-frame my thoughts and hope it helps you to do the same.
There will be numerous cases in life where we will want to compare ourselves to those around us, whether it be the student in our class who is out performing us academically, a friend or acquaintance who seems to have their life all together (all the time), or even the peer at work who seems to have all the answers. These people may be the people we compare ourselves to due to them making their triumphs look so effortless. However, I can say with almost 100% certainty that their accomplishments were not effortless, and they still have spots in life that they do not feel are perfect. We are so quick to say that another person is smarter, more talented, or down right just luckier than us, but truth is we just didn’t see the work they put in. We don’t know how many failures they had before they had that win. We also, as an outsider, do not see the whole truth; we only get to see what that person chooses to portray. In short, it is not fair to anyone, most of all ourselves, when we compare our accomplishments or efforts to someone else’s. We do not know the journey they have traveled — or are still going through — to reach their finish line. All we can do is try to learn from these people in our lives and hope that when we reach our chapter 30 it is all that we hoped it would be.
Our own life journeys are also something we continuously compare to others. I often beat myself up over the feeling that I am not where I am supposed to be at this stage in my life. It will have taken me 6 years to graduate with an undergraduate degree. Most people who spend this amount of time in college have a masters… right? First of all, that’s WRONG!!! Many people take extra time to finish a degree, so I am letting myself off the hook, and I strongly encourage whoever reads this to do the same. Secondly, I still reached the same finish line (graduation) and that was the goal. I may have taken more time to accomplish this goal, but I try to remind myself that MY life put ME on the path that was right for ME. If I would have graduated any earlier, I would not have met some of the amazing people that I have, or I would have missed out on some remarkable experiences. Taking more time also allowed me to figure a few things out about myself along the way.
When I look at others around me, I find it so easy to point out all the good in their lives, but I can be so quick to throw blinders on to all the happy in my life. My happiness will likely not be the same as others around me, but, like I have realized, my life will not be the same either. We must do what is right for us at any specific time in life, not what we think is right or what was/is right for someone else.
Moving forward, I want to do my best to stop comparing myself to others and focus on all the happy in my life. My next chapter will be full of me finding MY happiness and trying to stop being my own worst critic. I hope the same for you as well. And, if we have lived life correctly by the time we reach the end of our story, it will not be the same as anyone else’s. We will have defied the social norms, broke the rules that needed replaced, and been trailblazers for others who come after us.