“Comparison is the thief of joy”, is a popular quote by Theodore Roosevelt.
There are varying opinions on this quote, including some saying that it isn’t the thief of joy.
I have never been someone who lived my life based on other people’s opinions or way of life but lately, I have been finding myself constantly comparing my life, growth and progress to those of my peers. I am not sure what the reason for this is. Is it because I joined Instagram recently and I am constantly exposed to the images and videos that people choose to share about their lives? Or is it because I have become cognizant of the fact that I am an adult now and there is a certain direction my life should be headed, based on my expectations or other people’s expectations of me? Or is it because, like many people have suggested, that maybe, just maybe, I am not happy with my life?
I have experienced many blessings this year and there is a lot to be grateful for but sometimes I feel that my life is stuck. Stagnant. Not moving. Not much progress. Little growth. And at the same time, I can vouch for the tremendous growth that I have experienced over the past year.
“Comparison is the thief of joy”. It can be and at the same time, it might not be. Comparing your life to people you admire can help you focus on the areas of your life that you need to work on to make you better, help you grow and allow you to enjoy a more fulfilling life. It is a good thing to have positive role models. But it can also breed jealousy, hatred, bitterness and envy, if you allow it. These negative emotions are very toxic to your wellbeing and growth as an individual.
I also have this bad habit of viewing my life under the microscope of other people’s misfortunes. For example, “Miss Q has been waiting for love for a really long time and she is now 45. She is an incredible woman, successful, well liked, attractive and just a joy to be around. Yet, she is unmarried and doesn’t have children yet? What makes me think that I will meet a man who I love and who loves me back and settle down sooner than 45? What makes me better than Miss Q who has been waiting her whole life for this?” or “This person got in accident and lost their limbs. What makes me better than them?” or “This person tried to follow their dreams and took a risky path and didn’t succeed. What makes me think I am better than them?” I could go on but you get the idea. This is not a healthy thinking pattern (I recognise this) and it is just as bad as thinking “Wow! She is my age mate and is already so successful. She has a great career and is so educated. She has a man who loves her and who she loves back. She has a great circle of friends. She is involved in so many different activities and just looks like she can afford anything she wants and go anywhere in the world. She is just loving and living life!” or “Another vacation? Must be nice not having to worry about money.” or “God, why is my family not as well off as his/hers? Why do I have struggle for almost everything that I have?”
But I know the truth. The truth is we are all on different paths in this world. None of us will live the exact same life. It may be similar in many ways and I guess that is how we come to connect with different people, but it will not be the same. I have chosen to focus on positive thoughts rather than negative ones and that I should be living for a purpose greater than myself. Comparing my life to the life of others will only serve me if I rejoice in their good fortunes and even learn from them. It will not do me any good to loath, sulk, complain and feel sorry for myself. Another truth is, my life is blessed! I have a lot to be thankful for including God’s grace and love, my incredible family, my circle of small but solid friends, my health (with a few off days), my job (although it’s not where I want to be, it’s where I am right now and it is helping pay my bills), my strength, my resilience, my sight, my limbs, my sense of smell, taste, feeling and hearing, opportunities that come my way (whether I reach out and take them is up to me and God’s plan for my life), my inquisitive mind, my education (I still have a long way to go here but I have achieved a good bit so far) etc. I really could go on but I have come to realise that it could be worse. A lot worse! And it isn’t.
I have a lot of hopes and dreams for my future and I am constantly working to ensure that I achieve my goals but at the end of the day, whatever will be, will be. All I can do is make the best of it. Easier said than done? Trust me, I know! It’s a work in progress, I am a work in progress. Nous continuerons à avancer. We will continue to move forward, so help me God. I am learning that the good things in life don’t come easily, you have to work hard for them but when they do come easily, those are gifts and you thank God for them.