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feeling-lost inner-peace life social-media society

Oh no! I’m Behind.

We feel left behind in a world where more is never enough.

Photo by nikko macaspac on Unsplash

On this journey called life, each one of us walks on their own path. Each has their own needs and wants. Their own dreams and goals. So why are we comparing ourselves to others, persistently, consistently.

We see someone’s social media profile and immediately start this process. “Oh no, he read ten books in the past month while I only read one. Yikes, she double majored in college and has a master’s degree. He already has his own business while I’m still working as a cashier although I graduated from college.” Our desire to compare and deem that the person being compared to is always better-off cannot be overstated.

“The grass is always greener on the other side.”

We feel left behind when we engage in this comparison with others. Striving for perfection. Always trying to do more. Never feeling enough is enough. And doing all of this for who, for yourself? I don’t think so. We need to keep in mind that comparing ourself to another person, who is completely somebody else, only brings us a feeling of inadequacy in life.

We feel like we haven’t done anything. We feel unsuccessful in this life where success determines everything!

Relax…

Each one of us are on our own journey. This journey consists of finding our true-self. You might have read 3 books in the past 2 months. If that is what you want to do, perfect. You don’t have to be an avid reader if this doesn’t bring you inner peace.

While people were posting about their adventures abroad (pre-coronavirus), you might have stayed in your town and the farthest you have gone was your local park. If you enjoyed that experience, there is no need to beat yourself over not having gone to those places you saw on social media. It would probably be nice to travel abroad but if you don’t have the means for it, or if that isn’t your dream, it’s okay if you don’t do it. You don’t have to do it because someone else did it.

Those people we see on social media doing all of those “glamorous” things, this portrays them. Their actions there showcase us how they want us to perceive them. Maybe they aren’t even how they seem to be.

The problem is that this platform evolved into some kind of ‘comparison market’ so we, as customers in this trade, can search through its aisles and feel bad about ourselves. Like we are prone to do when we go to the beach or the gym.

“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Life isn’t a 100 meter sprint, it’s a marathon. And there is only one person running in that marathon, you. You have to sometimes walk, sometimes run, and sometimes sprint to continue on this marathon but you can’t try to do everything at once, at the speed of light.

Photo by Bill Anderson-Blough on Unsplash

Social media puts millions of people in front of our eyes on a daily basis and this makes it extremely difficult to focus on the self. How difficult it may be, our being feels peace when we focus on the self. Listen to its needs and try to satisfy those needs.

Another reason why we try to do what we see other people doing is because we view life as if it’s a to-do list. We just have items on that list that we need to cross out. We look at it as if life is something that needs to be consumed and completed.

We have to read every tweet on our timeline, see every new picture posted on Instagram, read every single blog post about that new blogger you discovered although he/she may have written thousands of posts.

We aren’t after key takeaways and how our life can change for the better through our personal experiences; or getting new viewpoints on matters and changing our stances’ on issues. We just want to consume things and move onto the next big thing.

Life finishes at some point but it’s never complete for anybody. It can’t be. No one can read every single book, watch every movie, discover every single piece of land on this earth. That is impossible.

If it were possible, we would be dead while still breathing because we would’ve discovered everything about this world and there would be nothing else to do.

So relax…

Just focus on yourself and try to be better than how you were yesterday. If you want to compare someone to yourself, compare your past self to your current self.

Photo by processingly on Unsplash

Whenever I have a choice, I ask myself this question, “from the infinite options of things that I can do right now, doing what will bring me joy and peace?”

If I don’t ask myself this question, I quickly find myself comparing myself to that person I saw on social media and trying to do what he did although, right after I start that activity, I feel that this isn’t right for me, but I still go ahead and try to finish it so I can say that I did it. And, feel better about myself because I wasn’t left behind. Because we are on the same line now.

This is dangerous for myself. I am me and he is he. I need to do things that will bring me joy not extrinsic pride so I don’t feel behind.

“Comparison is the death of joy.”
Mark Twain

Age is another important determinant in our never-ending quest to compare ourselves to others. We are constantly compared in this life. When we are not doing the comparing, someone else is doing it for us.

In school, at work, our parents in childhood. It really isn’t easy to not fall into this action. Society starts comparing us from such an early age that it forms into a habit and we continue to do it to ourselves in adulthood.

Oh, you have to do this by this age. You have to graduate, enter the workforce, buy a house, become a manager, secure your future. And we have an age criteria for each task that needs to be completed. If we are past that age and still haven’t put a checkmark next to that item, we are behind in life.

We certainly aren’t behind but that’s how society makes us feel. Each one of us was created differently to lead a different life. It that wasn’t the case, we would all be alike. And each one of us has their own path set in front of them that only that person can know. We can’t walk on another person’s path. We can try but if we are a little self-aware, we will soon find out that this path was not made for us. This is why a lot of people feel lost.

Life has no finish line, so there’s no reason to try to sprint to get to a line that doesn’t exist. Death will find us at the right time in the right moment. Whatever is supposed to happen will happen. These are things outside of our control.

What’s in our control is walking on our path. We will never be behind if we are only walking on our path. We will always get to places on time and experience certain things in life when they are meant to be experienced by us. No matter what year it is and how old we are. But, we will always be behind if we try to walk on another person’s path.

Life is a journey and its end result is death. I hope at the end of the day, we can all say that, “I did it my way”.

“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit.
Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.
What is anything in life compared to peace of soul?”
Francis de Sales


Oh no! I’m Behind. was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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