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Why I Stopped Comparing People’s Success To Mine

It’s so easy to feel like a failure when you compare the success of your peers to that of your own.

At twenty years-old sometimes I get this feeling that I am not doing enough with my life. I know that I am so young but it just feels like I should be more accomplished for my age. I look around and constantly compare my life to those of my peers. They’re doing things and going places that I am not, sometimes it makes me feel a little left out.

After graduating high school at eighteen, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. What I did know was that I did not want to just sit around waiting for something extraordinary to happen in my life. So I decided to take a risk and join the military. This was something so unlike me, the complete opposite of everything I’ve ever lived for but I felt in the moment that it was the best decision for myself.

When I decided to join the military I also made the decision not to attend college as quickly as my peers, that didn’t bother me because at the time college was of no interest to me. As time went by I watched my friends who I’d graduated with, and even those who I’d never talked progress in their lives in ways I wasn’t even close to.

Some of them were moving on to their next years of college, graduating early or just traveling the world. It made me feel so discouraged, I truly believed that I was failing at life.

I thought that there was some sort of timeline that determined my success and if I didn’t accomplish specific things within that time frame like my peers that I was doing it all wrong. 

I was so hard on myself everyday because I wasn’t doing what everyone else was doing, I wasn’t enjoying life the way I saw so many of my peers enjoying it. I began to focus on everything I wasn’t doing “right.” You see, because I didn’t have a plan made for myself or any idea of what I wanted out of life I began to look at other people’s lives and I tried to implement what they had going for them into my own life. I continued to see myself fall and the more I fell, the more I felt like I was failing myself. I had yet to realize that there is no way to fail at life.

I was on my own path. I was doing something great and it wasn’t influenced by anyone but me. I should have been proud of what I had accomplished. I’d joined the military at eighteen, moved out of my parents house and had become fully responsible for myself. These are things that most people don’t accomplish until their mid-twenties or early thirties.

What I realized was that it’s so easy to feel like a failure when you compare the success of your peers to that of your own.

Remembering that we’re all on our own paths can be hard but it’s something that we have to remind ourselves of often. Success may not come as quickly as it does to those around us but it does allow us to learn and grow in whatever it is we want to do with our lives. There are so many paths to walk down and mountains to climb in this life. It’s so important to know that these paths and these mountains aren’t the same length or height. There are obstacles and sometimes even triumphs that deter us from reaching the finish line and how we live our day to day lives determines how quickly or efficiently we reach that line.

It’s very important to know the difference between setting goals and expectations for your life. When it comes to expectations sometimes we get a little carried away and a lot of times the expectations we set for ourselves can be very limiting without us even realizing so. We set expectation after expectation and then when we don’t meet any of them we are so hard on ourselves and often proclaim ourselves as failures. It’s okay to set goals for yourself whether it be short term or long term. Goals are what allow us to determine where our finish line is placed.

So for the kids who feel as though they aren’t doing enough with their lives, you’re doing just fine. Age is not a measurement of success.

Time may be limited but the option to exercise your strengths never will be. Keep dedicating yourself to your craft, taking care of your mental health and just relax. Your time is coming until then don’t allow yourself to forget to love and enjoy life.

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Written by MaeKayla Starks

20 year fighter, chasing visions of her future