As human beings, we can’t help but compare ourselves to others.
We always want to improve ourselves (perhaps we are hardwired this way for our “survival”), and so we use other people as our reference point for where we need to be.
However, doing so may lead to our misery. (I can say that from my own experience.)
Lately, I can’t help but feel inadequate with regards to where I am in life. It’s been a year since I graduated and I still haven’t found that first full salary or even a sense of direction (after seemingly trying out a million different things).
It’s like I’ve wasted an entire year of my life.
As a person who has a lot of ambition, this is really difficult for me to admit. I feel less accomplished seeing how others are more established in their careers or have more set goals. I wonder, “Am I where I’m supposed to be?”
As my self-doubt grows, I find myself digging into a deeper hole and then realize that I am becoming depressed.
To begin, this hole (this helpless feeling) that I am referring to is really something that I have constructed in my mind.
Somehow I am able to pave my way out of my despair when I start to look at life from a different angle.
People often say, “Just stay positive” or “be grateful for what you have.”
Statements like these don’t resonate with me. They sound too cliché and I feel even more impotent for being unable to follow this advice. I need more guidance than this. I need to know how to do this.
Here are four steps I’ve since taken to dig myself out of this hole:
1. Connect with humanity.
Although we all live separate lives, we share common human experiences such as pain, love, loss and triumph.
These experiences take place at different points in our lives, as life is a long journey. When you can see that we belong to the same humanity, you will have more compassion and acceptance towards yourself and others.
It helps to read stories about others and relate to their experiences. I recommend reading Humans of New York posts.
2. Appreciate your circumstances.
When hearing stories about people who are in extreme and dire circumstances, I become more grateful for my blessings.
Try reading stories about people in which their freedoms are restricted or their survival is at stake. Not only do these add perspective to our lives, we also gain a further appreciation for the strength of the human spirit.
Know that so much power lies within you.
Some memoirs and biographies about survival: Half the Sky, The Glass Castle, The Escape and Twelve Years a Slave.
(I’m sure there are plenty more.)
3. Acknowledge your contribution.
Whenever I leave an impact on the life of another (whether it’s a person, an animal or even a tree), I feel like I’m making a difference in the world.
Sometimes, that’s all it takes for you to see your value and purpose.
4. Realize that success and happiness are not finite.
Finally, there will always be more opportunities for you to find happiness and success.
Unlike the earth’s resources, success and happiness are things that grow, can be shared and are unlimited—they don’t have to come at the expense of others.
Therefore, have faith that you too will find success in life and know that happiness can be found everywhere.
“Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life… Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes” ~ J.K. Rowling
Author: Catherine Chea
Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/ Editor: Alli Sarazen