In my efforts to find inspiration for writing, new channels to network, and just find content that I enjoy, I recently started listening to a few different podcasts. Some of my personal favorites, all of which you should check out, are Jigs & Bigs, Mindful Hunter, and most recently Her Inspired Journey, featuring Hannah Marcom. She talks a lot about the outdoors, but more than that she drops what she calls “truth bombs.”
Wednesday was my 28th birthday, and I spent Tuesday thinking; moreso, reeling. My car rides which are normally filled with music were silent and quite frankly, just sad. My mind wandered while I was at work, and I struggled to focus on what I needed to accomplish for the day. All I could think about was what I had always envisioned my life looking like when I turned 28, and how my life on Wednesday when I actually turned 28 would look nothing like that. I felt so many things: defeated, sad, disappointed, broken, worthless, and most of all a failure. The list was endless, and so were the feelings. My stomach churned all day long.
I am nowhere near as accomplished in my career as I want to be….I wanted to be married by now, but I am still single…I don’t own a house yet…I still have debt…I haven’t shot a deer with my bow yet…I haven’t traveled where I wanted to by now….I’ve hardly made anything on my bucket list a reality….
There are days when I find that writing is simply a healthy release. The act of putting all of my thoughts on paper to get them out of my head is what I decided needed to happen. When I opened my notebook after I was home I noticed the last thing that I had quickly scratched down. It was a note from when I had listened to one of Hannah Marcom’s podcast episodes: Not being perfect doesn’t mean you’re a failure. I read it again and I smiled; it was almost as if I had left that there just for this moment. Funny how these things work, isn’t it? So I went and re-listened to the podcast episode (#007), with a new intention: soak up her messages like a sponge. I had listened to it before, yes, but I didn’t really hear what it was she had to say.
To quote Hannah from her podcast “Get real with where the heck you’re leading yourself…We all know perfection doesn’t exist so why do we expect that of ourselves and constantly feel if we’re not being perfect at something we’re being a failure?”
We go through life measuring two things: success & failure. But we measure them too much in comparison with others. We watch others on social media and compare ourselves to them over and over again. We envy their successes and sometimes we even mock their failures. I know that everything posted on social media should be taken with a grain of salt. I know that until you’ve walked a mile in someone’s shoes you will never truly know their story. However I still find myself getting sucked in, comparing where I am in life to what other people are posting on social media. Why? Why do we do this? Why do we not see the leaps and bounds that we have made? Why must we measure our successes based on the success of others? Why do we feel that because someone appears “more successful” we are a failure?
To Hannah’s point, I must continue to remind myself “Where you are, who you are, and what you have. That’s the point.”
So, I went back to some of my anxious thoughts with this in mind, and came to some newfound, enlightening conclusions.
I am nowhere near as accomplished in my career as I want to be
Who cares? I have a job I love, with a boss who is great, who sees my potential, and wants to help me grow. I have an opportunity, I just need to see it as such.
I wanted to be married by now, but I am still single
I would have been married by now, I was engaged for almost a year. I know in my gut I would have been separated or even divorced by now because it was the epitome of a toxic relationship. It is not my failure that I have not married yet, but it is my success that I realized my worth. I did the best thing I could do in that situation. I left. I chose me.
I don’t own a house yet
So what? Simply owning a house doesn’t necessarily make it a home. Home is where I put down roots and grow. Personal growth and being a part of a community. That is what is important, not the material possession of a house.
I still have debt
As much as it pains me to say, most 28 year olds who went to college have student debt. But I make my payments and keep moving forward, and I have my degree. So the fact that I am in debt is simply a reality, not a failure.
I haven’t traveled where I wanted to by now
This just means I have those destinations to look forward to in the future.
I haven’t shot a deer with my bow yet
HUNTING 101 simply chalks this up to luck and patience. It will happen, I simply need to put in the time and continue to have patience. That doesn’t make it a failure.
I’ve hardly made anything on my bucket list a reality
So what? I have so many things that I have made a reality, that I didn’t even know I wanted. I moved back to MA to be with my family after spending some dreadful time in NY away from them for far too long. I reconnected with myself and with my passions, and here I am writing about them! Something I didn’t even know I wanted to do.
Stop focusing on what you perceive as failure. Stop comparing where you are on your journey with where someone else is on theirs. Women especially try to compare ourselves to one another, as if we are all the same, which we definitely aren’t. Look at yourself, just you. Look at your journey, by itself. Where were you one, three, five, or even ten years ago compared to where you are now? That is who you should be comparing yourself with, your past self. Not what you thought you were going to be, what you thought you were going to accomplish but where you are and all that you have accomplished. The growth, the progress, the development you have made, and the knowledge you have gained: that is your success.
I know that the girl I was fifteen years ago would look up to and admire the woman I have become. That is my success. Nobody else’s success or failure can take that away from me, so why should I let it?
Give yourself a break. Give yourself some credit. Give yourself some love. It is well deserved, and far long overdue.