Why Is Everyone Else Living the Dream While I Feel Stuck?

Picture this – you’re just out there living your life. You’ve been working and grinding, starting to feel like a BOSS when, out of nowhere, your friend announces they bought a house. Or got a big promotion. Or are taking a trip to Italy for two months. You’re so excited for them! You congratulate them sincerely on their accomplishment. But then jealousy begins to bubble up inside and, next thing you know, you’re binge eating a large pizza and crying on the couch while watching Mad Men. Does this sound familiar? It certainly hits a little too close to home for me.

Being in your mid-twenties, it can be tough to find common ground with those around you. I think ‘all my peers are living the dream, and I’m just stuck’ more than I’d like to admit. It often feels like everyone else is living the perfect life that you can’t help but be envious of. (Sidebar – they’re not. Every single person has struggles, whether you can see them or not). But I have good news for you… these feelings are normal. You’re not alone. Phew. I know, right? What a relief. Psychologists call this ‘social comparison’ and we all do it. We as human beings are competitive. We always want the ‘better’ thing that other people have. But we don’t have to become slave to these feelings. There are things we can keep in mind to step out of the jealousy. The following reminders will help you shake off the funk when envy starts to rear its ugly head:

Be grateful for what you do have. I mean, talk about a cliche. But it’s true. When we start to count everything we already have as a gift and see how blessed we really are, our attitude shifts. A positive attitude can go a long way. Try writing down three things that you’re grateful for every morning or give someone a genuine compliment each day. Make a point to practice gratitude everyday, however that looks for you!

Your time is coming. Keep working and grinding. Remember, there is no time limit on success. Many of the people we applaud for their accomplishments didn’t get there by age 25. (Ummm hello, Walt Disney?!) Everyone’s journey is different. If it’s really your passion, you’ll get there eventually. Success is not linear. Don’t give up!

Your job does not define you. Seriously. It doesn’t. While others may see you as just the Receptionist… or wow the Marketing Director! that’s not your identity. While career accomplishments are important, what really matters almost never happens between the hours of 9-5. Don’t get me wrong, I think having a job you love is amazing and you should work toward that. But it’s not what defines you. Spend time on things you enjoy outside of the office – build into relationships with people you care about, pray, go for runs. As Maya Angelou said, there’s a difference between making a living and making a life.

Celebrate the success of others. The best thing we can do when we start to wallow in our own self pity is to shift the focus off ourselves. Because, believe it or not, we are not the center of the universe. Cheer your friends on, offer help and support, truly celebrate what they’re doing – whether big or small. Trust me, it feels amazing to take the pressure off yourself. And your friends will appreciate the effort.

Create an action plan. Okay, you’re fed up with feeling stuck. Do something about it! Start building up a realistic course of action. Find out where you can offer up volunteer hours to build experience, look up college courses that will help you refine your skill. Seek out someone who can edit your resume to make it stand out. Don’t stay idle. Work for that dream!

I couldn’t help including this honourable mention – Social media highlights the good, not the bad. People may look like they’re living the dream, climbing the ladder of success, but what we see is not always what we get. As I said in my post ‘Expectation Vs. Reality: Instagram is Not Real Life’, we don’t see the behind-the-scenes of the carefully curated version of everyone’s lives. Often it’s a skewed version of reality. Every single person we see online has their own struggles, whether we see it or not.

I hope these points helped you to take the pressure off yourself and realize that you’re doing better than you think you are! Next time you start to feel jealous of your (likely deservingly) successful peer, take a breath and remind yourself of these things. You got this!