Something I’m truly guilty of at all times is comparing myself to others. And that’s not to mean in a competitive way. More a “why can’t I be like them” kind of way.
I can’t quite tell if it’s a side effect of my anxiety or something that causes it. I’m guessing it’s probably a bit of both. Either way, it’s something I waste way too much time doing.
Acting my age
I’ve written about this before so I’m sorry for repeating myself, but I am constantly questioning whether I’m in the place I should be, considering my age.
My biggest dilemmas? I don’t know if I’m in the profession I want to be in, I don’t know whether I should be living on my own by now, and – as bad as this might sound – I don’t even know if my friends are really my friends.
It doesn’t help that I’m at a point in my life where everyone around me is moving on with their lives. The bane of my life that is Facebook (which I deliberately avoid because of this) likes to constantly remind me of all my old school friends getting married, buying a house, having children, whilst I sit here wondering whether I’m even on the path I want to be.
It’s not just in the virtual world I’m doing it either – it’s in the physical world too. For example, there’s a guy I work with who’s 29 years of age and the void between himself and me (27) is ridiculous. He’s living with his girlfriend, considering marriage and children. He’s been in pretty senior roles already in his career and is on what I can only assume to be a decent salary. Yet I sit here in my second ever full-time position struggling to establish myself as a serious journalist.
Even if you were to stand us side by side, the difference would be obvious. He’s confident in himself, can talk to people of authority and somehow looks smart at all times (even when he’s dressed casual). Me on the other hand, well I’m not even vaguely confident in myself, find it hard to form a sentence in social situations and wear hoodies and jeans to work. (I should say now that I actually quite like the guy. He seems a bit boring and doesn’t seem to want to engage in conversation with me a lot but he’s not a horrible guy).
I’m using my colleague as an example here but actually I think about it with pretty much everyone. Even in social situations with some of my closest friends, I get this feeling that I’m just not quite as ‘mature’ as them and that I don’t belong.
Here’s the recurring and probably the most annoying thing about my anxiety – I’m fully aware I shouldn’t be sitting here comparing myself to others. Instead I should be comparing myself to myself and making sure I’m the best version of myself that I can be.
There’s part of me, even as I type this, that is providing rational explanations as to why certain things are the way they are. Maybe my colleague is as comfortable as he is at work because he’s been there a lot longer than me and he knows people a lot better than I do. Maybe we don’t have very lengthy conversations because we have different interests or maybe he’s unsure about me also. Maybe these situations are completely different from other people’s perspectives and I’m just making this all up (a highly likely scenario).
Maybe, rather than feeling too immature in certain situations, I should be happy that I don’t fit into that ‘mature adult’ stereotype that exists of being established, telling businessman-like jokes and trying to out-do others. Perhaps I should be happy that I think differently to others.
Focusing on myself
Strangely enough, I think the best way to go about this way of thinking is to focus on myself. Yes, that sounds counter-productive seeing as anxiety is pretty much just focusing on yourself at all times. But in this sense, I mean to focus on improving myself rather than comparing myself to others. If I can’t stop doing that then perhaps I could take the positive comparison route instead, so rather than thinking “why didn’t I say/think of that?” or “how come I’m not doing it in the same way as them?” I should be thinking “I just thought of something that they didn’t” or “I’m doing it in a completely original way.”
I suppose that could be the positive message from this post then: to embrace my differences. After all, the greatest minds aren’t the ones that join the queue of like-minded people. They’re those that break the mould.