One night I was out running and thinking about how my wedding engagement set off an intense ripple effect in our friend group. Girlfriends started pressuring their boyfriends about wedding rings and houses. All of a sudden we had four weddings to attend before our own! Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to be proud of these things and to share it with people you love, but was it just me or did everything start to feel like a competition all of a sudden?
With this on my mind, I became aware of the neighborhood I was running through. It was a new development with expensive houses, white picket fences, two new cars in the driveways, kids toys on the lawns, swing sets in the backyards. They all looked the same and reinforced even more that sense of completion.
We start to feel pressured around our 20’s and 30’s to have that ticky-tacky lifestyle. Somehow we are made to feel as if there’s something wrong with us if we don’t get into the competition.
I’m not immune to the competition stress. Even though, I am married I still don’t have the house, two nice cars or kids. Should I feel bad about that? Was I doing something wrong? The pressure was getting to me.
Being sucked into this race didn’t feel like me, but there I was. I struggled to remind myself to stay present and focused on what I have instead of what I don’t have yet. As much as I might wish I had more control, few things in life can be forced; things, especially the important things, tend to unfold in its own time, when the conditions are right. My timeline doesn’t look like everyone else’s. Just like other people’s timeline doesn’t look like mine. That doesn’t make it wrong or make me or anyone else a failure at adulting. Learning to be comfortable, patient and confident while we find our own path is a process, like so much of life.
What helps me is to stay mindful, aware and present in the moment. I try to remind myself:
“I’m exactly where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.”
I hope this helps you, too. If you can relate to any of this or have your own ways that help you deal with this “life competition”, please leave me a comment! I would love to hear your story.