The Quarter-Life Crisis And Why The Success Of Your Peers Doesn’t Make You A Failure

March 6, 2014  |  

Soror Rachel just got engaged and her wedding will be in Austin, TX, taking place just two days prior to my freshman roommate Trish’s baby shower in Chicago. Of course, I have to cross my fingers and hope that those dates don’t conflict with the date of my twin sister’s grad school graduation from (*insert name of fancy university*).With all of these things on my plate, I’m just hoping it won’t interfere with me watching a new episode of Scandal

At this point, if you’re like me, you may feel like should have accomplished more for yourself by now than just having good looks, a winning personality, a fancy degree (where my liberal arts folks at!?), your hopes, and being a gladiator for Olivia Pope. In your mid to late 20s, your peers have been making it rain fifties and hundreds at every social outing, while you frequently collect change from cushions and crevices so that you can fund a trip to the neighborhood bodega to buy a bag of UTZ sour cream and onion chips for dinner.

The Internet hasn’t helped either. It constantly updates you on every single life change and triumph that your peers encounter. Facebook and every other social media outlet have made everyone else’s advancements readily available for your consumption. After scrolling through your newsfeed, you feel like you’re still playing dress-up while everyone else is suited up for real. You may be happy for your friends and you can certainly “like” their actions on Facebook and Instagram, but it doesn’t make you a bad person for being a little over seeing it all.

Everyone that you know seems to be frying bigger fish and doing big things in their lives. You’re just finding your footing, and that makes you stressed about your future. Trust me, I can fully relate.

Top-tier careers, engagements, marriages, pregnancies, children, and/or benevolently living abroad while developing water irrigation systems and feeding the hungry children of Malawi–my peers seem to be doing it all. But there are two things I had to remind myself to do:

Relax, and breathe.

Life is not a race…even though it may feel like you’re always finishing last.

I learned that your peer’s success does not equal your failure, and if someone’s newsfeed is getting you down then you might need a break from social media in general. If other people’s happiness is making you feel left out, and affecting you on a basic level –destroying your mood one  update at a time — then you should unplug. Stop reading about what other people are doing and work on yourself. Also, actively pursuing your own goals or even spending time to decide and pinpoint what your life goals are is just as valuable as achieving a goal.

There’s no satisfaction to be had when unfairly comparing yourself to someone who appears to be doing “better” than you. When you compare the worst aspects of yourself with someone’s best, it’s damaging to your sense of self – and it doesn’t help you accomplish your goals.

Additionally, you don’t really know the lives of the people that you’re comparing yourself to. You don’t know what struggles or difficulties they may be facing or what they had to overcome to get where they are. Their priorities may be completely different than yours and they may have made sacrifices that you wouldn’t be willing to make.

And hey, some of them could just be faking it like everyone else, in which case, you can’t compare yourself against inaccurate information. Many people are pretending that they’re more accomplished or happier than they actually are. And on top of that, nepotism isn’t just a word, it’s how a lot people are getting by nowadays. Knowing people, making connections and networking like it’s nobody’s business is getting a lot of people very far. Because a friend’s cousin’s sister’s nephew went to church with Jane Doe, they have an in, and you’re left feeling like you’re on the outs.

Try to make a list of your accomplishments, so that you can remind yourself of all that you’ve done and the things you want to do. Create a checklist that’s comprised of big things and small things, so that you’re always checking things off of your list. Do this so that you realize the importance of achieving conceivable small and big goals. And, finally, pace yourself. Take your time and enjoy your life. Incessantly obsessing about progression toward a large goal is like weighing yourself after every meal and hoping to have lost weight after each weigh in…we all know that things don’t work that way.

 

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