20somethings spend a lot of time competing with each other in discrete ways. Thanks to Facebook, LinkedIn, GTalk, and Twitter, we can now silently stalk our friends, frenemies, and former classmates and feel disgruntled when we find out that they are more successful than us. The Valedictorian of our high school class is a pediatrician making a six-figure salary. She is married to an attorney, lives in a half-a-million dollar home, drives a Mercedes Benz and is already living her American dream at the tender age of 32. Meanwhile, we are struggling to find the “right job,” but in order to make ends meet, we are working at some dead end job, where we downplay our credentials, so our employers don’t suspect that we are overqualified and fire us before we quit.
Our love life is not much better than our professional life. The last “real” date we had with a guy was 8 months ago and our luck with men has been a disgrace. He’s either a minor, still in high school and asking his mom for lunch money; in college where he spends his weekends getting “wasted” and going “HAMMMM” or is 65+, retired and spending his free time playing golf. The ones who fall between the marriageable age range of 25 and 35 are either in a relationship or single for obvious reasons and the others, are good guys, but it just hasn’t worked out.
I know I’m not alone when I admit to checking my peers’ Facebook profile religiously. I see green when I browse through photos of their honeymoon in Maldives and their worldwide cruise to 27 different countries.
I know I am not alone when I admit to studying my peers’ Linkedin connections and wishing that I can be like them when I grow up.
I know I’m not alone when I feel the urge to throw a stick in front of the next happy couple I see walking through the mall hand in hand
That’s where I stopped myself. Comparing ourselves to others, worrying about what we don’t yet have, and dwelling on other negative thoughts are counterproductive. They don’t help us to reach our goals. They don’t inspire us to change the world. Instead, these thoughts make us ashamed, upset, and pitiful, to say the least.
Recently, I have had my moments of distress more than I care to admit. It’s disgusting. The time I spent looking at friends’ photos on Facebook, I could have organized the 1,750 photos I have stored in iPhoto. The time I spent reading his tweets about his “not-so-glamorous” life as a professional traveler, I could have finished reading Steve Jobs biography (a book I’ve been reading for over 6 months now).
One of the wisest woman that has ever lived (my Mom) reminded me: the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. While your frenemy may be the VP of her company, you have no idea the amount of stress she is under, the fact that she takes sleeping pills to achieve a night of restful sleep and is now addicted. You have no idea that the woman who married her college sweetheart one year after graduation gets beaten up by her husband 3 times per week. You have no idea that the ex that walked out of your life 2 years ago, the one you wish will come back into your life and into your arms, has become infected with HIV. His life consists of doctors appointments and cocktails. Who wants to live a life like that by choice? Perhaps if you stayed with him, you may have contracted HIV also.
And besides, I am a firm believer that everyone has a unique path that she must take to reach her destiny. Some people move quicker up the professional ladder, while others move at a slow steady pace, allowing life’s circumstances to grow, change, and sharpen their character, skills, and personality traits. Others fall in love and run swiftly to the altar to exchange vows. Others fall slowly and use the time span between graduation and marriage to develop hobbies, travel, and enjoy single-hood. Nothing’s wrong with that.
Live your own life and quit comparing. Who cares what they do anyway?