Have you ever sat and thought about your position in life in comparison with your friends or your peers/colleagues? Do you think social media has a large influence on how you feel about yourself and your achievements?
I often find myself looking at where my similar age friends are at in their life and wondering if I have done better or worse. One of my close friends has just bought a house and got engaged within the last year – a huge step forward. Another of my friends is doing her Masters in the area I initially wanted to study in but decided against after much thought. And it is so much easier to be sucked into that self-comparison now due to constant exposure on social media.
Do you remember when you used to text or call people you hadn’t spoken to in a while – or would run into them on the street and you’d find out what they had been up to and where they were in their life? And that would be it until the next time. You didn’t give it much thought and got on with your day/week. However, now we see it every single day. And the thing with social media is that we never see the negative – only the positive or mundane. The hint is in the name ‘social media‘ – we only see what people want us to see.
I was going through a particularly bad spell a couple of years ago. I had been forced to leave my job due to being bullied by my manager and was living in a town away from home with no friends and I sank into a very deep depression. There was a point where I didn’t leave the house for 6 weeks or see anybody but my partner for that time. I was so isolated and down. My only contact with my familiar home life was through social media – but often, that would make me feel much worse.
For me, coming out of a degree and hoping to conquer my career yet just 8 months later finding myself jobless and nobody replying to my applications or enquiries pushed me into further despair. My friends were either off travelling, or finding the perfect job, or starting a family and getting married and I was seeing it every. single. day. It would be a successful day for me if I had decided to get dressed or cook a decent meal. But eventually, a way out came upon us and we decided to move back home; it was the best decision we ever made, and it transformed my life.
Now that I’m in a good place, I find myself questioning where I am now in my journey compared to everybody else. My partner is also a sucker for this and I think he started me off worrying. My partner is driven and ambitious and knows his plan for his life. He wants to have a mortgage before a certain age, be married by a certain age etc. – whereas I don’t usually think past where I am now. I live for the moment and let life carry me to where I should be. Well – it’s worked for me so far (kind of?!). But I’m really not surprised why people are so confused as to where they should be going in life.
Out of interest for this blog, I started searching around google for ‘things I should have achieved by 27’ and other similar topics. It brought back a whole lot of suggestions and pages, however there was one ‘Quora’ post and its responses that caught my eye. I will list a few I’ve selected at random:
One user suggested –
100% financial independence.
Renting out own space (living alone).
One or two heart breaks.
One ex still in good terms with.
Skill to cook a simple meal without having to look the recipe.
At least 3 contacts of top professionals in her career stream.
A mentor who she respects and looks up to.
Self-control to not snooze the alarm.
Basic knowledge about her country’s politics.
A healthy body image.
Lone travel experiences.
Quit a habit (Ex: Smoking)
A workout regimen.
Maturity to let go of people who don’t want to stay in their life.
Conquer a fear
Another suggested –
Happiness with what you have
Complete acceptance & loving yourself
Good relationship & understanding with your loved ones
Sound emotional, physical, mental health
A comfortable life
Good education – The Real Life experiences
Clear about your priorities – not in rat race
Polished life skills to handle any situation
Living life the way you want to live
Financial independence through Qualifications & Skills that can support you in a tough time
Some more –
Learn to be independent.
Financially. At 27, you need to earn a livelihood by your own and if needed, to take care of your parents.
Emotionally. Single or in a relationship; doesn’t matter; just learn not to be emotionally dependent on someone else.
Intellectually. You should have your OWN opinion; it shouldn’t be someone else’s views to be reflected on you.
Be passionately curious about life; about your own life and the lives around you.
Learn something new; swimming driving dancing music lessons karate, whatever it is.
Cultivate your hobbies.
Be a reader and a writer.
Watch movies of substance every day. Watch movies in the theatre, alone.
Save for the hard days.
Learn to love yourself; unabashedly and un-apologetically.
And the one that made me blow more air out of my nostrils than usual –
Should have been in at least 5 relationships
Should have at least 10 bed partners
Should have boyfriends with different privileges, like one for office, one for city, shopping, one for drinking and disco
Should have earned at least 0.5 million Rs from those boyfriends.
Should have spoiled the life of many guys by not being loyal to them
(*Please feel free to comment any points you agree or disagree with!)
What seems to be a popular opinion in these suggestions is ‘financial independence’ – (minus the last selection of suggestions; that one made me feel even less accomplished than the others!)
I rent with my partner and for now, that works for us. We do want to get onto the property ladder but it’s a struggle paying both rent and saving a good amount at the same time. We are starting work on it this year! However, I know a lot of people my age that still live at their parent’s house – and it is a fantastic way to be able to save money in order to be financially independent. (My mother and I are best friends until we share a living space – it’s a no from me.)
But, my point is that ‘life achievements’ for everyone are relative and fluid. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves because of what goes on around us. If my partner wasn’t pushing for us to buy a house, it wouldn’t have crossed my mind – because independently, I wouldn’t have reached that point in my journey yet. For me personally, because I have been in a worse situation before than I am in now, to wake up happy and feel secure is what is most important. If you are unhappy in any aspect of your life, it has such a negative impact on your mood and your way of thinking. When I was being bullied at work, I would go to bed crying and wake up crying because I had hated my day and dreaded the next. There was nothing to motivate me out of bed. I couldn’t see past the next 12 hours because I was stuck in a hole with no escape. It has been an uphill climb to get over those feelings of anxiety and panic. But now that I am past that point in my life and I have those experiences, I can think about what I want to achieve. It’s not important if that is in line with what everybody else is doing ‘at my age’. They haven’t been through what I’ve been through and vice versa. hell, if we all took the same journey, then life would be boring! There would be no need to do anything new or challenging or different!
So if you find yourself worrying about where you are in your journey, and how that doesn’t match up to what Tom, Dick and Sally seem to be happy doing, don’t sweat it. You got past your trials and your tribulations and you’ve survived. You’re here – and you have the choice to do whatever you want to do with your life. Facebook and other social media platforms are breeding grounds for self-deprecation and we are all so easily sucked in. Things aren’t always as they appear, and so what if Susan, who you used to know at school but don’t actually have any kind of contact or friendship with in any other way, is going on her 4th holiday in the last 6 months, or John has got his 3rd promotion this year. Who knows how they got those holidays or that promotion. Things aren’t always as they appear. If you find that what other people are doing is bringing you down or making you question your self-worth, think about maybe stepping away and taking a break.
My partner found that Facebook was the source of his anxiety and unhappiness because all of his friends from home were living seemingly fantastic lives, getting the jobs they wanted, travelling the world and/or spending their 20s partying. He wasn’t doing any of that and was starting to become miserable. But you know what – when he deleted the Facebook app and stopped spending most of his day scrolling through, his mood lifted and he became happier in himself. He stopped comparing himself to other people and began to see that his life isn’t actually that bad at all. He is financially stable, independent, has a good job, has the experience to get a better job if he wanted to, a happy life and the choices to do what he wants for himself. He is in a good place on his own merit – not in comparison to everyone else.
For me, my next goals are that I want to learn to drive and have some money saved. I downloaded a petty-cash type savings app about 2 weeks ago and within a week, it has saved almost £30 for me and I haven’t noticed it disappear. (It monitors your spend and calculates how much you can afford to save based on your balance and your spending habits). If this is something you’d be interested in, I’ve added the link at the bottom for more info.
Just remember you are doing great – set your mind to what you want and what is best for you. It isn’t a race – it’s an independent journey, your adventure, your story.
*The saving app I’m using is here. My promo code Y70SDW will increase your interest rate. Happy Saving!