I’ve never totally understood the famous Theodore Roosevelt quote until recently, but I’ve decided that I agree – comparison is the thief of joy.
I’m still in my early(ish) 20s which is a complete minefield altogether.
Some of my friends are still at University, living off pasta and stumbling in at 3am every Sunday morning. Others are travelling or living their best lives in different cities and countries all over the world. A couple are more settled with houses and rings on their fingers…
And then, there’s me.
I’m definitely not where I expected to be at 24.
I sailed through school, college and Uni and my career path as a teacher was pretty set. So were my plans and expectations about where I would be at each stage in my life.
For a long time, I thought that by 24 I’d have worked my way up the career ladder and be earning a decent wage, living in my own house and be seriously thinking about the future.
Then, I started to recognise that life is short; I considered putting everything on hold to go travelling and make memories before becoming a ‘real adult’ with responsibilities.
Of course, this decision was taken out of my hands altogether when I became poorly; I’ve realised that life has a way of throwing us curve balls when we least expect it.
While things may not have turned out how I thought they would, I am happy… at least, I’m happy until I start comparing.
I sometimes look at the choices my friends have made and think ‘maybe I should have done that’ or ‘should I be at that point by now?’
I use the word ‘choices’ loosely because I think that everyone’s path is a combination of choice and circumstance.
However, the main comparison that troubles me is the comparison of myself. Where I should have been. Where I could have been. Where I thought I’d be.
Currently, I’m working as a freelance writer – again, a combination of choice and circumstance. I do enjoy writing and it works for me because I can choose my own hours and mostly work from home, which allows me to focus on my health. However, I would have never taken the risk and let go of a good, stable income and a career I loved and worked hard for, had I not fallen ill in the first place.
My boyfriend and I are saving to move out which is both exciting and stressful. We don’t want to rent because it’s dead money, which means more time living at home while we save. Hopefully, it’ll be worth it though.
I’m still recovering physically and mentally too. I need to stop being hard on myself about this.
I need to realise that where I am is okay.
Things happen. Life can change over night.
In a way, I’m in a better position than I ever thought because I’ve been through really difficult times and come out at the other end. I’ve found strength I didn’t know I had. I’ve taken what life threw at me and made the most of it.
This time a year ago I couldn’t even walk, for goodness sake – I’ve come a long way but I just don’t give myself the credit I should.
To be honest, when I really consider everything, I think I’m lucky. And I think that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
I might not have the house I thought I would yet and I might not be a head of department in a school, but I do have things worth so much more than that.
I’m alive, for one. I can walk. I’m getting better. Some people can search forever to find a person they want to spend their life with and how lucky am I to have found mine.
I might not be exactly where I want to be right now, but the future looks bright. We all have our own paths and will find our way in the end.
It’s important not to compromise our happiness and waste precious time worrying and comparing ourselves to others, or bowing to self-inflicted pressures and expectations of where we are ‘supposed’ to be.
We just have to trust the timing of our lives.