How to Overcome: Feeling Behind on Life
One of the (many) ideas that I had for the blog for 2019 was focusing more on some mental health issues, instead of just fitness and nutrition. As I’ve said before, being healthy is an entire lifestyle - not just something that you can do when you feel like it. But, sometimes, we often neglect our own mental health, likely since it’s something that can be felt, but not seen. I definitely struggle with taking time for my own self-care, so I’m sure that others do so as well. One topic that I’ve been thinking a lot of recently is the idea of feeling behind on life.
This presents in a lot of different ways (of course, we’ll talk about them!) but having just passed the holiday season, I think there’s a lot more pressure. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m reaching an age where all of my friends are either married (or getting married soon!), or they’re starting families. And with the not-so-gentle nudging that I’m 31, I’m not going to lie, sometimes I feel the pressure! But, that doesn’t mean that I’m necessarily behind on life. It simply means that my life has taken a few different twists and turns to get to where I am now. And that’s okay.
Let me say that again - You are not behind. You are on your own path. There truly is no timeline to these things; no train you might have missed.
Stop social comparisons!
Oh man, this is such a big one. In a world where social media is king, it’s so incredibly hard not to look to social media as a source of inspiration. I see so many friends from high school with beautiful families or friends with amazing careers. Of course we’re going to see these things! These are the highlight reel. And that’s something so important to remember - people don’t share the bad or mundane things. Hell, people don’t even share everything. (Well, some people do and that’s another story.) But the moral is this: People only share what they want to share. It’s both the blessing and the curse of social media apps like Facebook and Instagram. The user is ultimately in charge of their content. If you don’t like a photo? Delete it. You don’t like a post about you? Delete it. Most people aren’t going to be open or vulnerable enough to share their less-than-perfect moments.
Social comparisons are so hard and, well, inevitable. We start them from such an early age. Think about when you first started school. We all had a similar life trajectory until we turned 18 - for some of us, even 21. You plus your friends will share most, if not all, of the same life experiences - classes and homework, first cars, first dates, Prom & Graduation - so while you might compare, you can relate. After high school, many of us go on to college, so again, our peers are relatable. But, after college, our lives start to divert. Some of us develop and grow in different ways, whether this be in our career or family. Since our life directions start to splinter, we find ourselves grasping at the pieces, trying to understand what is the right path. This might be the first time that you’ve had to find your own way and, understandably so, it’s scary.
This idea that anyone is “ahead” in life is false. It’s simply a different path. I’m here to tell you that it’s ok!
Live in the Present Moment.
Instead of making these social comparisons, let’s turn the focus back to you. What does your present look like? How are you feeling right now? When you look your life as a whole, what do you see? How would you describe yourself to a stranger? I always think this is a fun exercise because, for most of us, the first few statements that we tell a stranger are about external markers. “I work in…” or “I am and I…”
Instead, take a step back. Instead of listing off these qualifiers, think instead about your personal life. How did you feel when you woke up this morning? What have you done recently for your personal health? To expand your personal learning?
It’s completely okay to have goals and aspirations (in fact, we should!) but they shouldn’t be all-encompassing. Having a good job or making a lot of money doesn’t truly define who we are as human beings.
Make gratitude a daily thing
So are you feeling behind? In work? In life? In family? Let’s work on reversing that thought pattern! The very first step comes in being thankful for the things that you do have. Some might say that looking in a mirror and truly seeing its reflection is one of the hardest things to do! I completely agree, but that’s why I’m suggesting keeping a gratitude journal.
When everything around us seems chaotic and hectic, sit down in the evenings and write down three things you’re grateful for that day. Or, conversely, start your morning with the same practice. If you have the time, instead of grabbing your phone first thing when you wake up, grab your journal. It might seem silly at first, but writing down these things each day truly makes you think about the good in each day. And, when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, it’s good to look back as a reminder of all of the things that you have in your life. They can be simple things, too, such as: “I’m thankful for this cozy bed.” But soon, the little things, and starting (or ending!) your day on a positive note, will transcend into the larger things.
Seek Out People Who Are Genuinely Happy
This goes back to my idea of social media comparisons. Just because someone has the things that you desire, doesn’t mean that they are happy. How many times have you heard sad stories of famous celebrities whose lives have ended tragically? People who are genuinely happy are people who are also fulfilled. If you’re struggling with feelings of self-doubt and self-worth, these are the people that can teach you valuable tips and tools. The worst thing that you could do is isolate yourself from everyone, with the mindset that “you will do this until…” We, as humans, are much stronger when we connect with each other.
Learn How to Say “No”
You know that old saying that goes, “Stop burning the candle at both ends!” Well, stop! Stop doing it, right now! Obviously, that’s easier said than done, but it’s all about learning how to say “no.” If you constantly feel that you have to overwork and overextend yourself in order to “make up for lost time,” this is for you. You are not behind in life. In fact, sometimes saying “no,” is about prioritizing what is important. But focusing on what truly matters to you, and filtering out the noise and comparisons, you’ll find that you are much further along on the path than you thought you were.
Seek Out What brings You Joy
I recently watched some of the Tidying Up series on Netflix with Marie Kondo, so I guess I’ll bring the same sentiment to this post. What brings you joy? I would wager that it isn’t the external factors, such as a good job or lots f money (although, I’m sure those things don’t necessarily hurt.) But do they truly make you happy? The richest man in the world isn’t the happiest if he can’t enjoy his life. The same goes for you. If you spend each day focusing on chasing these external motivators — money, career, etc — you have little time to find the things that make you happy. For me, I changed my major several times when I was in college because I found that, as I studied more, it didn’t truly make me happy. The careers that I wanted to pursue were sure to make me money, but ultimately, I knew that I wasn’t passionate enough about them to continue.
So, find joy in your daily life. And seek it with a passion!
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