Life from grade school, to middle school, and high school often feels like a race. We compete to earn straight attendance, high G.P.A.s, and acceptance within our social groups. Whether it’s in the form of making friends, earning good grades, or extracurricular activities, we all want to fit in with our peers and keep up.
While this mentality is innocent enough on the surface, it’s important to remember that everyone reaches milestones at different speeds. Not everyone will go to college and earn a degree. Not everyone will find their dream career right out of school. Not everyone will meet their partner and marry young. We all mature and develop at varying paces — and that’s okay!
Here are five ways to stop feeling like you’re falling behind your peers:
1. Reflect on the past.
Think about all of your past achievements. Write them down if you have to, to really illustrate your self-growth. Did you graduate from high school? Check. Did you attend college? Check. Have you worked and made friends and fallen in love? Check, check, check.
And if you haven’t done some or all of these things? Don’t sweat it! Reflect on the accomplishments you have reached so far and focus on those. Life is all about celebrating ourselves and being happy. Just because someone you used to know made it big in Hollywood or published their book doesn’t mean you need to follow.
Be proud of the goals you’ve reached and move along.
2. Stop with the comparisons.
Comparing yourself to others is dangerous territory. Once you start, it’s difficult to stop. If you find yourself comparing your body, job, education, family, friends, finances, etc. to others, you’re bound to be disappointed. If you want to stop feeling like you’re falling behind in certain areas, try to figure out why you think you are.
Is one of your friends married with children? What is it about being married with children that appeals to you? Where is the disconnect with your life now? Same goes for school, work, and overall happiness. Really try to understand why you feel like you’re falling behind and try to be at peace with it. If things are going the way you want them to be going, you’ll find the ability to be truly happy for the other people in your life.
Related: How To Deal With The Comparison Game
3. Focus on your goals.
A great way to stop feeling like you’re falling behind is to focus on your goals. What’s still to come for you? If you have set descriptive goals for the different facets of your life (e.g. career, finances, health, relationships, etc.) then you’re bound to feel like you’re keeping up. You’re a work-in-progress, just like the rest of us!
These twenty-something years are all about defining ourselves, making changes, learning, and shaping our future. You can’t feel like you’re falling behind if you’re still molding yourself, right? Go easy on yourself. We are all still becoming our best selves.
4. Be happy with what you have.
A big part of life is learning to be happy with what you have. Things like good health, a stable job, loving family and friends, and overall happiness are priceless facets of anyone’s life. Even if it seems like everyone else around you are all leaps and bounds ahead of you in certain areas, it’s hard to feel like you’re falling behind when you appreciate all you have.
Be grateful and stay humble. Life is too short to throw away the good parts in an effort to keep up with everyone else. Don’t dump the person you could marry someday just because it isn’t happening right now. Don’t quite your job (unless you hate it) just because it’s not the job you always imagined. Work hard. The rest will all fall into place.
5. Recognize life is not a race.
Even though it feels like it sometimes, life is not a race. There’s no prize waiting for us at the finish line if we graduate from school, land a great job, buy a house, get married, have kids, save for retirement, and go one vacation every year. Who even does all of these traditional things? Life is different in 2017. We can pick and choose the goals we want to set for ourselves.
If marriage isn’t important to us, we don’t have to wed. If we don’t want to have kids, we don’t have to procreate. There’s nothing and no one telling us to achieve certain things. So if it feels like everyone else is settled down and successful far before you, think about what you want. And if you do want the same things as everyone around you, remember: there’s no rush. Good things really do come to those who wait.
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If you ever find yourself feeling like you’re falling behind, remember our mantra here at GenTwenty: we aim to become our best selves. This doesn’t happen overnight. Quick achievements don’t necessarily equate to real, lasting success. We all have to earn it.
What ways do you remind yourself it’s okay if you fall behind your peers? Share in the comments!