For twelve years of your life, you were told you were above average, so now, even when you do an average job you feel like you have failed. You don’t feel like you should be moving at the same pace as everybody else. You feel like you should be moving even faster than everybody else. You are holding yourself to an incredibly high standard — and, unfortunately, some of your relatives are too.
When someone your age earns more money than you, buys a house before you, lands their dream job before you, gets engaged before you, or has kids before you, it’s normal to feel jealous. It’s normal to feel like their accomplishments are your failures. But that is not the case. You have to get yourself out of the habit of comparing yourself to everybody else — even though that is what school trained you to do.
When you were in high school, you were grouped in advanced classes. You were consistently told you were going to make something of yourself, you were going to make your parents proud, you were going to become a success story.
You came home with high grades your parents could hang on their fridge and college acceptance letters they could brag about to relatives. You were constantly breaking boundaries. You were pushing yourself and getting rewarded with student of the month and honor roll.
Unfortunately, once you reach your twenties and graduate from college (or choose not to attend college), you are not going to get as much recognition for doing a good job — and that can be jarring.
You might make your company millions of dollars without earning a raise. You might help a customer without a pat on the back from your boss. You might start feeling like there is no point in trying because no one notices the difference between the days when you work extra hard and the days when you do just enough to make it through the workday.
When you were constantly told how intelligent you were in school, it’s normal to feel like you are falling behind in your twenties. It’s normal to feel like you have not reached your full potential. It’s normal to wonder whether you have been doing something wrong.
However, chances are, you are doing perfectly fine. You are being overly critical of yourself. You are expecting too much.
If you want to stop feeling like you have fallen behind, you have to stop comparing yourself to others and you have to stop assuming you only have a limited amount of time to reach success.
There is no set timeline. Despite what you thought when you were younger, you are not going to have everything together by the time you reach thirty. But no one else is either. They might look like they have it all, but there is something they are missing. It might be something you already have.
You might not be where you thought you would be when you were younger — but your younger self would still be proud of you. They would know you have been trying your hardest.
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