“Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding”– 2 Corinthians 10:12
Last week, I had my first counseling visit in which I reviewed some of my concerns with a social worker working in the behavioral health clinic here on post. I felt relieved that I was finally doing something about some of the negative thinking that I’ve been doing over the last few months and I look forward to the sessions ahead. During this appointment, I admitted that I have a tendency to compare my progress with that of my peers and that I have always done this. Lately, with the advent of such social media outlets like Facebook, it is easier to brag about one’s accomplishments and it is even easier to be envious of your “friends'” success stories. The older I get, the more I seem to notice more job promotions and business start ups, home purchases, and the inevitable proposal/marriage/pregnancy/birth announcements. It is very easy to get side tracked by what your friends are doing in their own lives that you forget about your own journey. And I admit, this is my program to. the. T. It has been more and more difficult accepting my current situation while I watch former classmates and colleagues find success and happiness and just about everything they pursue, it seems. They claim that if you work hard and trust God you can do everything! “Look at me!” they claim “I finally got that job promotion. Ain’t God good!?” Meanwhile, I find it hard to even read many of my friends’ status updates, knowing it will be just another opportunity to find fault with my own journey. These comparisons were making me unhappy and were making me feel like a loser. By many standards that my generation set for ourselves, I’d probably be considered a loser….
But wait…is that a fair conclusion to make? That just because I chose to start a family before establishing a career; that just because I have yet to buy a house; that just because my finances aren’t where I’d like them to be; that just because I have yet to find my purpose in life… would it still mean that I need to buckle down and get my shit together?
Am I loser because I had to live with my mother for two years because my first career choice didn’t work out and we needed help? And am I still a loser because my mom helps us out still? Are we losers because we enlisted in the Army and I am a stay at home mom who depends on her husband to provide and protect? Am I a loser because I have two degrees but am not using them?
These are the thoughts I struggle with daily. It is very difficult to look at the goals I had and plans I had and realize that the choices that I have made drastically changed the way my life was supposed to go. While some people may question the way I chose to do things I know there is a deeper reason for it. For instance, starting my own family was so important to me. I was so afraid of my children not knowing my parents because they were older. I never really knew my grandparents and I didn’t want that for my kids. So I chose to marry young and have children right away, even before having a steady career. I figure a career would easily follow.
And as far as getting help from my mother… I am my mom’s only child. And although I don’t ask for it, she finds that the little bit that she can help allows her to be a part of her grandchildren’s lives. The physical distance may keep her away but her constant support allows her to feel that she is present in some way.
And I am finding a way to get my shit together. It is very difficult to work right now because of all the needs my three children have. No one tells you that your children might have behavioral issues or speech complications when you are expecting. And there aren’t many therapists who do evening and weekend visits. So I made a choice to put my career on hold some more and get my children the help they need. Sacrifice doesn’t even begin to describe what you have to do when you have children… not. even. close.
So in the days and weeks ahead, as I start my therapeutic journey, I will be writing on my progress. I know the first thing that has to change is my thinking. I have got to stop comparing myself to others. It’s no offense to anyone really but I don’t care to see pictures of your 40th vacation this year, or photos of your new office. I don’t really want to know that you just bought a home or that your kid is a little genius who can multiply and divide and spell every state’s capital in Spanish they are only 3. Oh and this 3 year old is perfectly well behaved all. the. time. Know that I am not hating on you and your success. I know you’ve worked hard to get to where you are. This is my journey and I can only focus on that, not on your timeline! Now it’s time to get to work!