Every now and then I’ll read, see, or hear something that really resonates with me. Lately it’s been the above quote which happens to be something that I read on Pinterest.
I’m the first in my family to graduate from college, and I’m financially independent. While I am very proud of myself for overcoming socioeconomic barriers to get to where I am today, sometimes I do feel a sense of frustration when I compare myself to others. (Thank you, Facebook.)
Everybody has friends who’ve gone off to medical school, dental school, law school, pharmacy school, whatever school. And when you see those graduation photos of theirs, it can be tough. You might wonder where you went wrong in your own life.
“I should have studied harder.”
“I should have stuck it out.”
Or your very blunt grandmother will say something like, “You should’ve been a doctor. That’s what your grandpa wanted for you.”
Don’t let these negative thoughts overcome you! Do the following: inhale for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, and exhale for 5 seconds. Repeat a few times until you’ve calmed yourself down. Focusing on your breath will bring down your stress levels.
There’s a reason why you’re where you are. Did you really want to go to medical / dental/ law/ pharmacy school? Is your life’s purpose to please your parents or grandparents? At least in my case, NO. I want something different for myself.
Some people are fortunate enough to find their passion at a very young age and stick to it for the rest of their lives. I believe that those people are few and rare. I do happen to be surrounded by people who love what they are doing, but their road has been long and difficult. I know they put in a lot of work, and their hard work is finally paying off.
Other people, like myself, have many many interests. And that’s ok too. I love learning, and I learn by doing. Therefore, I do new things and learn about the subject and myself along the way.
The point is, “Don’t compare your beginnings to other people’s middle” is a very appropriate quote for Millennials. Not only are we very ambitious, but we are also very impatient. The world we’ve grown up in is full of super fast and super social technologies, driven by young entrepreneurs making millions or even billions before they turned 30. No pressure for the rest of us, right?
Think about the facts. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you’re much less likely to take a huge risk like quitting your job to start your own company. If you grew up in one of the poorest areas of the country with very few role models, you may think that your only option for success is becoming a doctor/ dentist/ lawyer/ pharmacist. But that path may not be yours. Define your own success. Don’t let others define it for you.
Take a moment to create a list of things you like and don’t like. I’ve learned that I absolutely love problem solving and research, but I hate answering phones in a call-center environment, even though I’ve been complimented on my soft skills many a time. I like numbers. I like words. I am creative. I love challenges. I am easily bored with mundane tasks. Narrowing down your best traits can help you find a path for YOU, and not because you’re desperate (yes, desperate!) for success.
As I write this, I think of myself just a few years ago, battling the thoughts of desperation and regret. Very under-employed with a college degree, I switched career paths every few months. I fell prey to the pressure and comparisons. It is only now that I feel comfortable with the path I have chosen, and I am happier now than ever. Even if my family and friends thought I was smart enough to go to medical school, it was not their decision to make. I live a life that is fitting for ME.
If you’re in an unhappy place right now, don’t compare yourself to others. Even though it’s sometimes hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, keep going. You’ll find your way sooner than you think. Explore new ideas. Read books. Listen to podcasts. Join a club. Take a class. Something inside you will point you in the right direction, and when you find the right path, you’ll know it.