I first wrote this blog at NYE when all those 2010-2020 round-up posts were going around on social media and everyone was counting up their achievements like sweets. It made me feel more than a little bit inadequate, and I can’t be the only one. Here’s my advice on what to do when you start comparing yourself to others…
That’s what started it; everyone ringing up their achievements on social media as we were ringing in the new year of 2020. So many accomplishments; careers, kids, houses, everything you could ever want. For me, the hard jolt of inadequacy came a couple of days later; triggered by a seemingly harmless conversation. Myself and my twin sister had got through the whole of Christmas without having a moan about our jobs / lives / mediocrity in the way that we usually do. Everything had been quite cheerful, and I hadn’t succumbed to the grumps that come with spending time with family in a confined space. However, that all flipped because of one small thing. It’s always just one small thing; a tiny morsel of casual conversation that I somehow end up stewing over for days…
I had some friends round to my flat one day during the holidays and amongst the drinks and nibbles one of them happened to mention that a friend-of-a-friend I only vaguely know had recently bought a flat in Edinburgh… which cost over £300,000. He’d bought it himself, without a partner or someone else propping up half of the deposit, and it was almost “palatial” in stature. I nodded, smiled, continued with the evening, but the comment had hooked under my skin, ready to be forensically examined later. The thoughts started circling the next day, vulture-like. Why I am not in that position? What did I do wrong? Why I am I destined to always be so mediocre?
“The thoughts started circling the next day, vulture-like. Why am I not in that position? Why am I destined to always be so mediocre?”
For me, I think it’s about feeling left behind. I’ve always felt a little bit behind the curve when it came to my career, and I don’t think I’ve ever caught up. I couldn’t get a job for six months after I graduated and even when I did it was a minimum wage salary and involved moving to a different (lesser?) city than all my university friends. In some ways I felt like I’d failed before I’d even started. And now, hearing that one of my peers is so far ahead of me that he can afford a luxury flat in the city I would love to move back to just really wounded me at a time when I was feeling weak. And by weak I mean hungover, a bit podgy, and with vast amounts of time to dwell on negative thoughts.
So what did I do to fix it? Well, first of all I spoke to my twin sister about how I was feeling. The great thing about having a twin is that you can say all the stupid, awful things that you might be hesitant saying to even a best friend. Having a vent and laughing about how ridiculous you know you’re being with someone close to you always helps. The next thing I did was get back to being productive – because you can’t stew on something when your mind is occupied. I wrote a blog post on the best things to eat and drink in Venice, which I’d been meaning to do for ages, and it ended up being one of my most popular posts in a long time. So that made me feel better about myself, too.
I guess what I’m really saying is that I needed to turn my focus back to me. I always think about that phrase: sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind, the race is long but, in the end, it’s only with yourself. In this instance, it couldn’t be more true. I’m not saying I won’t have another blip in the future, as I probably will, but what I want to do is to stop getting distracted with stuff that can only hurt me and get back to where I’m at my best; being productive, creative and energised.
How to stop comparison from killing your buzz…
Move your body
Whenever I find myself stewing over something I know that I’ll spend the whole day or evening thinking about it unless I make a metaphorical gear change, and that usually means exercise. A quick run around the block shakes off all the bullshit in my head and always leaves me feeling clearer and more level-headed. If nothing else, at least I know I’ve done something productive.
Speak to someone who’s got your back
Whether it’s your sibling, friend, partner or a family member, there’s nothing like speaking to someone on your side to give you a little bit of perspective on the situation. I know I’m being silly 99% of the time and sometimes just saying the words out loud makes them lose the power they have over you.
Do something creative
I haven’t dwelled on my perceived mediocrity for a while until this incident, and I think that was because I’ve started blogging. For a long time I didn’t really know what to do with myself in the evenings after work, but now as soon as I get back I’m ready to crack on and get another post published. I find it exciting and fulfilling, and that makes me feel more positive about myself.
Learn something new
Starting this blog has pushed me to learn so many things that I wouldn’t have otherwise done. From improving my SEO skills, implementing a Pinterest strategy or just learning how to grow my following on Twitter, it makes me feel good about myself – particularly because I know I can use these skills in my marketing career too. It’s much more worthwhile than mindlessly scrolling on my phone every night.
Discover bloggers who inspire you
There are so many bloggers and Instagram influencers who are into upcycling or finding amazing secondhand bargains, and it’s made me realise that you don’t always need to have tons of money to live the life you want. Although it often feels like everyone else has tons of cash to splash, particularly on social media, I’m slowly learning that a lot of the time they’re just making savvy financial choices.