What to do When You're at a Different Place than All of Your Friends
Do you feel like you're not where you're supposed to be? Like all of your friends are living their best lives while you're struggling to find yours? Whether you're just graduating high school and all of your friends are getting accepted into the school of their dreams and you don't even know if you'll be going to college, or if you just graduated college and your friends all have jobs lined up and you don't, or if you're single and all of your friends are getting married and having kids; whatever stage of life you're in, this post is for you.
Comparing ourselves to others is completely natural and some would argue that it's biologically wired within us as a survival mechanism. Back at the start of human civilization, it was important to be hyperaware of how others were doing compared to ourselves to ensure our survival. Thankfully, most of us don't have to be worried about our basic survival anymore (especially if you're using the internet to read this post). Even so, it can be extremely difficult to get out of the comparison mindset, especially if those that we're comparing ourselves to are our friends.
Here are some tips for what to do when you're at a different place in life than your friends:
Make a list of all your accomplishments, big or small. We've all made to-do lists of things we have to do in the future, but have you ever made a list of what you've done in the past? Take some time to write down everything you've accomplished in your life thus far. Write out your big accomplishments (like graduating school, getting a job you wanted, or whatever is big to you) as well as your smaller accomplishments (like learning how to do your own laundry, budgeting your bills, or whatever you think is a small accomplishment for yourself). After you've written this list, read over all the amazing things you've done in your life! I guarantee you that none of your friends have done everything you have.
Establish boundaries with social media and in real life. It will be much easier for you to stop comparing your life to those of your friends if you're not constantly seeing their accomplishments. Of course we want to be happy for our friends and to celebrate their wins, but on our terms, which means not seeing their lives 24/7. If you find yourself comparing your accolades with your friends, consider limiting how much time you spend on social media and how often you see their posts. To read more about creating boundaries with social media, check out this post. The same goes for in real life. If a particular friend is constantly talking about their accomplishments and it's bumming you out, maybe spend a little less time with them at this stage in your life. There's no shame in doing what's right for you and it doesn't have to be forever.
Ask your friends and loved ones to describe you in three words. This may seem like a funny tip, but it's actually a real self-esteem booster. You might be surprised at how your friends and family describe you. We're often much harder on ourselves than our loved ones are and we can't always see our own amazing qualities. Have some fun, ask them to describe you in three words, and do the same for them.
Create a plan. If you believe that your friends are at a better place in life than you are, you should take some time for introspection and see what you don't like about your current life, what you want to change, and where you want to be a year from now. You don't need to create a detailed five-year plan, but try thinking about what you want your life to look like a year from now. Start by journaling around these questions:
What am I not satisfied with in my life right now?
Am I happy with my career? If not, what would I rather be doing?
Am I happy with my relationships?
What do I wish I had more time for?
How do I spend most of my free time?
What am I lacking most right now?
What do I want my life to look like one year from now? (Where will I be living, what will I look like, how will I feel, who will be in my life, what will I be doing professionally?)
What's one thing I can do today to help me change my current life?
What are three things I can do in the next month to help me change my current life?
No matter where you are in life, I promise that you're doing a better job than you think you are. Life is full of seasons and this season for you right now might be one of growth, but there will be seasons of success and contentment later on. I'm rooting for you.
Your gal, Kayla