You scroll through your newsfeed and are confronted with what your mind only interprets as “progress”: your old college friend just got engaged, your best friend from high school just had her first child, it looks like that weirdo from your creative writing workshop just published her first—oh, no, it’s her second—novel. Someone just got a promotion, while another just moved to Los Angeles. Everywhere you look, someone else’s life appears to be more exciting than yours. It pains you that they’re getting to do these things and you’re stuck in the same place, doing the same things. You feel like you should be doing exciting, new things like this, and that because you aren’t, somehow you’re behind the curve as a result.
Newsflash: everyone operates at their own pace. Nothing occurs simultaneously for everyone, and if it did, that would completely remove the excitement from it. More importantly, it isn’t about being behind the curve—it’s about finding your place, namely, the place that feels right for you. As you begin your quest to move your life in the direction you want, considering these points might make you feel a little better, or more appreciative, about your lot in life.
A happy newsfeed doesn’t equate to a happy mind.
So your friend’s moving to Los Angeles. Does she even know what she’s going to do when she gets out there? Is she moving on a whim? Is she moving for someone else? Just because she’s off on a new journey doesn’t automatically mean that she’s doing bigger and better things in life than you are. In fact, she may feel like she’s in even more of a rut than you are, and the move is intended to give her the jump-start she so desperately needs.
As far as marriage and pregnancy goes, while I certainly won’t knock modern love, and children are beautiful creations, there is zero point to rushing these two things. Both marriage and children are sacred, and adequate consideration much be given to both of them. If you feel like you have a lot of “figuring out” yet to do about yourself, it’s probably not the right time to begin to think about bringing others into your life. It wouldn’t be fair to them, but more importantly, you may have untreated issues that you’ll never consider for the rest of your life, which could lead you to a lifetime of discontent without ever really realizing why you’re feeling that way.
It’s perfectly okay to live your life behind what others have defined as “the curve”.
To even declare that there is a “curve” in life is to basically say that everyone should be living identical lives. Sounds ridiculous, right? We aren’t robots. Each person is different from the next, which is one of the things that makes us so very beautiful. If there were a single “curve” out there that we could “fall behind” on, then that means there is one set of standards by which everyone is measured. Where’s the appeal in that? Hell, where’s the fun?
I say, let’s throw this notion of “the curve” out the window and start fresh. Sure, let’s strive for happiness, but let’s do that by looking inward and finding out what it’s going to take for us to find contentment.
What do you want to do in life? Chances are, you want to make your mark in some way. That’s fine: it is perfectly OK to want to be someone who is remembered for their contributions. Want to become a famous novelist? That’s fine, but I can assure you, it isn’t going to happen overnight. And—I know this is a crazy notion—in order to write a bestselling novel, you’re going to actually have to get writing! People hold themselves in such high regard sometimes that they forget they must earn this regard in the first place through their own actions. Self-esteem is one thing, but self-denial can easily be misconstrued for the same thing. If you want it, you have to work hard!
Shut the laptop; put the phone down.
The biggest detriment to going online, witnessing the seemingly cool lives of others, and subsequently feeling like you’re behind the curves is that this information does not serve to motivate us. Instead of being motivated to pursue our own dreams based on these new details, we become mired in our own perceived inadequacies, paralyzed by the achievements of others and, as a result, discouraged to go out and achieve things for ourselves. This is because humans have a tendency to see achievement less by what was specifically achieved, and more by general achievement itself. Someone could have accomplished a great task that we have zero interest in striving toward, but because the accomplishment is so great, we still feel like it should have been us.
We have to remove ourselves from this world. We can appreciate the strides others make and offer our own encouragement, but at some point, it’s time to shut the laptop off and put the phone down. If we’re going to accomplish anything, it’s crucial.
I know this sounds like hard work, but if you’re serious about making a change, here’s what you should do instead. Find a quiet place in your home, grab a notebook and a ballpoint pen, sit down, and open to a blank page. At the top of the sheet, write “The Plan.” This is where any sense of a formalized plan ends, however. I want you to think for exactly one minute about what you want to achieve in the next ten years, and then begin writing. Just go. It doesn’t have to be in any particular order, but it must flow organically from your head and heart to your hand and out the tip of your pen. You’ll be amazed what you come up with—perhaps ideas you had no idea you were harboring.
And no, you may NOT stop and check your newsfeed for inspiration.
You aren’t behind the curve—you’re simply defining your own.