For a while I was so ashamed of myself for not having finished college. It was reinforced by questions like “So, are you in school?’ Then I finished college and for a while I was so happy and proud of myself for doing so. Now I just feel bad about not going to grad school. It’s reinforced by questions like “So, are you going back to school?”
For a while I was unemployed and felt so bad about not having a job. It was reinforced by questions like “So, what do you do?” Then I got a job and for a while I was just so happy to be employed. Now I just feel bad about having such a low-paying job and about working part time. It’s reinforced by questions like “Are you working full time?”, “Do you have an evening job?”
For a while I had no friends and I was so lonely. It was reinforced by questions like “So, do you have any plans for the weekend?’ Then I made friends and for a while I was so happy to be socially connected. Now I just feel bad about not having a partner or child. It’s reinforced by questions like “Are you in a relationship?” “Do you have any kids of your own?”
Maybe if I ever get a partner, a child, a master’s degree and a full -time, high paying job, I’ll be completely happy and satisfied with my life and no one will be able to make comments that leave me feeling inadequate. Or maybe I’ll just feel bad that I don’t have a doctorate, a six figure job, two children, or the world’s most attractive partner. Maybe no matter what I accomplish in life, I’ll always find ways in which I’m lacking, ways in which I don’t measure up to expectations. Maybe people will always find ways to question, judge or pity my life circumstances. Maybe true happiness really does come from within.
There’s a quote that says comparison is the death of all joy and the only person you need to be better than is the person you were yesterday. While I often feel I’m not as good as everyone else, I do know without a doubt that I’m a better person than I was in the past. Maybe that is the only thing that truly matters.