Have you ever looked back at you year and thought about how someone else seems to have just done it all better? We live in a world where we are constantly comparing ourselves to others, whether that be how we look, how much we earn, what we drive, what clothes we own and even down to what brand of bread we buy! Whilst some of these are deep routed societal pressures that have been ingrained in us for years, such as diet culture rearing its ugly head to tell us how ‘she’s thinner than you’ or how ‘he’s got bigger muscles’ – but that’s a rant for another day. Right now though, I want to focus on how when we look back and reflect on our year, we always seem to dissect it down and critise ourselves so harshly – whether your best friend did better in exams, your colleague got a promotion or even whether your parents have gone to fancier restaurants than you have! We put ourselves down so much, but we don’t reflect on how our achievements are exactly that: OURS.
Do you put your own experiences and challenges into perspective with what you have managed to boss? I was recently in this situation; ripping everything I had managed to achieve to pieces and diminishing everything I have managed to do.
I’m going to use this situation to highlight how we NEED to take pride in our own achievements and really put into perspective how you have done your best.
I’ve just finished my end of year exams for university, and it didn’t go as smoothly as previous exam seasons have gone for me – one exam I am pretty certain I failed and another I felt pressure to get a really high grade and I don’t think I managed that. After my last exam, which happened to be the one I felt pressure to excel in, I knew I had passed that module, but I called my mum and was saying how unhappy I was because I felt like I had let people down; I felt that what others managed to excel in, I only managed to pass; I felt that I was a failure because I hadn’t done as well as others; I felt like a failure and I felt stupid. And this is where my mum helped bring me a step back and reflect on what I had achieved during this time:
I took 9 months out of university for recovery, and went back even though all my friends were either on placement or in the year above. I went back despite the fact I was out of practise. I went to every lecture that term despite having days were I was so depressed that I would go straight back to bed after the lecture. I handed in every assignment on time and passed them. I managed to sit one of my exams despite being hurt by this guy the day before, and I aced it. I managed my time so well that I could spend time with friends and still get my work done. I carried on despite being hurt repeatedly by men throughout this year. I sat my exams and went to all my lectures despite having to deal with my father passing away. I sat those exams and only asked for consideration when applying for mitigating circumstances. I had to relearn how to be independent again, and I managed to keep my eating disorder at bay for the most part and was able to manage my mood a heck of a lot better than I did before I left university because of a relapse.
Does that help put into perspective that what I managed to achieve this year is actually INCREDIBLE?! Especially those of us with chronic and/or mental illnesses, we have an extra battle on our hands that others may not have.
Some people may throw themselves into work when their home life gets tough, and maybe that’s why they got a promotion. Some may take to the gym to burn off the steam and release endorphins after a bad breakup. Nobody knows everyone’s circumstances, so next time you find yourself picking apart what you have managed to achieve: take a step back and breathe. Know that everyone has their own challenges, and what’s going on in your life at that exact moment in time may make the same task harder – give yourself credit, because you’re doing great (and so is your friend/colleague/family!). Life is not a competition, despite what society might tell us; let’s learn to lift each other up, because there’s enough criticism in this world without us adding to it.