When you place all your effort into one-upping those around you, you forget to put effort into yourself. And in an instant, life becomes about the accumulation of things instead of experiences. You race towards that next promotion, or award, or publication, feeding an ever-hungry ego and forgoing the joy of the ride.
And it’s easy to get caught up in it all – the media tells us we need to look a certain way, Facebook friends publicize their successes by the second, your family expects you to become a doctor or a lawyer (or maybe marry one), peers and colleagues ask “what have you done lately?” And suddenly we’re frantically looking around convincing ourselves that everyone around us is more successful and more fulfilled than we are. When in reality, everyone’s trying to strike a better balance to make themselves happier.
I’ve even seen this among the WordPress community (which on the whole is a welcoming and supportive one) with individuals literally begging to be Freshly Pressed to have another accolade that can momentarily satiate that creeping feeling of “does what I do matter.” Here’s a secret: you don’t need that nod in order to make a difference. Whether your page has 5 views a day or 5,000, you never know whose lives you may be touching by sharing your story, photos, poetry, jokes or whatever else you offer. All this to say, focus on making you better. It does no good to waste time on wondering why you haven’t reached some threshold of success that you’re coveting. Improve yourself and your work, and the recognition will follow.
The next time you feel a pang of jealousy or inadequacy, step back and reevaluate. Are you angry at that person because they’ve done you some wrong, or because you want what they have? If the answer’s the latter, start working to get where you want to be. Because I can’t remember the last time someone got an award for sitting around and grumbling.
Compete against yourself. It’s a worthy adversary and in the end, you’ll always come out a winner.