Comparison is a dangerous trap.
She’s not coming back. She moved away and moved on, and her life is going forward. She’s growing up and I’m staying put. Her career is about to explode into success and mine is moving on a slow trajectory.
For the last year I lived with my best friend, and it was the happiest living situation I’ve ever had in my life. Not only were we amazingly compatible roommates, but we were also emotionally very close. We did everything together.
Less than a month ago she moved back to her hometown, and although it was really difficult to see her go, I obviously wanted the best for her. I knew that she needed to be close to family for a while and wanted to start growing her career. All valid reasons, but deep down I really thought she would get there and realize how much she missed this place and the life she’d built, and she would come back. Thousands of miles and a new career wouldn’t be enough to make her forget how awesome our lives were here. Maybe it wouldn’t be the same, but she was going to come back.
In the back of my mind I knew this was an unrealistic expectation, but during the moments when I stood looking out over the water or having a glass of wine at one our favorite places, I couldn’t help but think, “She loved it here as much as I do. There’s no way she’s going to be as happy as she was until she comes back.”
Then a few days ago I spoke to her on the phone for the first time in a couple of weeks, and… she sounded happy. She was travelling and spending time with family and had a plan in place to start a program that would lead to a successful career. All amazing things. I was so so proud of her, but during that phone call I had a sinking feeling as I realized my foolish notions of life returning to the way it was were circling the drain. She had moved on. Plans were in place for the future, steps were being taken towards a career, and I had to accept that my blissful coexistence with my best friend was actually over. Ridiculous as it sounds, I hung up the phone and cried.
It wasn’t just the fact that I was sad she had moved to another state. Yes, it was a difficult pill to swallow, but that I could handle. It was the fact that as soon as I heard all of these things about her new life, I started panicking about the progress I was making in my own. I don’t currently have big international travel plans, nor do I have a foot in the door to start an exciting new career. I’m not living particularly close to my family. But the thing is – when I look at my life, I am happy. I love the variety of my two jobs, I love my home, I have an amazing support group, and I am fortunate to have the ability to take time off if I wanted to travel to see family. I only started feeling overwhelmed and uncertain when I compared my life to that of one of the people I love most in this world!
Why do we get sucked into comparisons? In an age of social media where people are obsessed with having a certain image of themselves, comparing yourself to others often seems impossible to avoid. I have so much to be grateful for and so much to look forward to, and yet I still find myself getting sucked into the trap. But the truth is that we control our own lives, and we each have the power to make a change if we want to. Look at your life and ask yourself: are you happy? If you’re not, ask yourself why. Do you feel unfulfilled because something is truly missing, or are you trying to keep up with other people?
Your life is your own. There’s no right answer to how to live, so don’t fall into the trap.