Finding Contentment, One Brick at a Time.
In the age of social media, it is very easy and tempting to compare yourself to those around you. Not just yourself, but also your clothes, your car, your house, your relationships, your family and so on. Instead of being able to take part in celebrating the accomplishments of our peers, it seems we often revert to self-loathing. In some instances, this desire to have our lives match that of others can be a positive motivating factor, but in most cases, it just ends with us feeling worse about ourselves. I wish I could tell you that as you enter into adulthood, these feelings fade, or that rationality begins to overtake your emotions and you worry less about what others have. That just usually isn't the case. Often the things we feel jealous and insecure about change, but the feelings rarely do. There are ways that we can remind ourselves of our own fortunes and try to find contentment every day.
This is the most fundamental and often the most difficult. Whenever you see that someone has posted about buying a new home, it can be second nature to begin hating your own apartment. It can also be easy to think that the reason this person has been able to afford a house, while you are stuck in an apartment, is solely because of your own lack of worth. If your peer did the things he or she needed to do in order to reach this milestone, then it stands to reason that you haven't reached this milestone because you did not put in the effort. That simply isn't the case.
To properly put into perspective the achievements of yourself and others we need to look at the entire picture. Imagine everyone you knew was tasked with the same activity The activity was stacking bricks into a single stack one by one as tall as each person could make them. Now imagine that everyone had a different amount of bricks that they could use to potentially stack. Some have hundreds of bricks, some have just a few. Some have ladders to assist them when their towers get high enough, others do not. Some have bricks that are shaped perfectly for stacking, while others have bricks with ridges and bumps on them that make this process difficult. Then imagine that each person is instructed to make several different towers, but the number of bricks stays the same. You would no doubt see a myriad of differences in the heights of peoples brick towers.
The analogy is this, we have all been handed a certain number of bricks in our lives. Some are good for stacking, some aren't. The towers represent the different areas of our lives. If we devote more time to one aspect of our life, the others will not have as many bricks. For instance, if we spend our time with our family and dedicate ourselves to time spent together it can come at the expense of our career. Our “Family Tower” would be very high, whereas our career tower wouldn't be. You also have to take into account how many bricks were stacked when we first showed up. Some of us began work on our very own tower from the ground up, while others began with a tower that already had a solid base and foundation.
All this to say when you see someone who is celebrating a victory on social media. Instead of comparing your tower to theirs, or your accomplishments to theirs, just understand that every single tower built is built differently and for different reasons. This tower that you see on your peer's timeline may have come at the cost of time with loved ones or pursuing a passion, something which maybe you were able to do.
The cumulative effect of being able to see everyone else's accomplishments sometimes makes us forget that the people whose lives we are peering into are diverse. We may see their recent promotion at work, but we probably won't see their failing marriage. We may say the new car purchase they made, but we may not see the mountains of credit card debt. Our towers climb and fall in height throughout or entire lives. We borrow from one to stack onto another. We have all started at different places and we all have different bricks. There is no need to despair when a particular aspect of your life seems less than. If it enough so that you want to change something and rearrange your particular bricks, then great. If not then you can just keep it as is.
It would be very likely in this analogy that no two towers would be exactly the same. And most importantly, we would never expect them to be. Nor should your life match up exactly with what you see on social media.
Instead of allowing the success of others to throw you into despair, just understand that no two people are the same. No two people have the exact same resources or the same potential. No two people are going to have the same priorities and wants. Celebrate the success of your peers, and grab another brick.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.