how to cope with being behind in life
Personal Growth

How to cope with feeling “behind” in life

Graduating college and starting “adulthood” has been such an interesting experience. I graduated about a year and a half ago in May of 2022, and it has been a whirlwind – in both good ways and bad! I was used to being in my college town with all of my best friends, and then suddenly we were all leaving, starting jobs, and on our own paths. I felt so much pressure after college to figure out my career and what I wanted to do with my life. I looked around and saw what other jobs people had and where they were living. I questioned if I was making the right choices and doing the right things.

After talking to many others, I have come to find that this is a fairly common experience. We are all out here trying to figure out life, which is full of constant decisions.

Over time, I have come to appreciate my journey and I have realized that I am exactly where I should be. I know that I am so blessed.

Every now and then, however, these thoughts creep back into my mind. And that’s totally okay! I have come to embrace all of my emotions and also learn how to cope with them when they arise.

The terrible feeling that we aren’t doing enough

One of my biggest struggles in life has been the feeling that I am not enough. I’m not successful enough, pretty enough, likeable enough, smart enough… the list goes on. It’s so easy to fall down the slippery slope of wanting more. Much of our society thrives on doing more for ourselves, which isn’t always necessarily a bad thing. It becomes a bad thing when we create expectations that are too high and make ourselves feel like we haven’t gotten far enough in life.

there is no blueprint for where you need to be in life

These feelings can also lead to a vicious cycle of convincing ourselves that we will only be happy when certain things occur. “I will be happy when I buy a house.” “I will be happy when I can afford a vacation.” “I will be happy when I get a promotion.”

When you are constantly waiting for the next thing, you will be doing that for your entire life. And then you will never be happy. Focus on today, it’s all we have!

One of my favorite sayings: Comparison is the thief of joy

Because of the internet and social media, we have a constant view of what others are doing. I always find myself looking at the lives of others who are my age. Many of them have really cool jobs, apartments, nice things, and expensive vacations. I am always really happy for them, but sometimes it is hard to avoid the feeling that I am not successful enough. I feel the days ticking by, and I have not met many of my long term goals.

But here’s the thing – everyone is on their own path in life. I am on my own unique journey, and everyone else is on theirs.

reminder: everyone is on their own journey. focus on what you want from life. don't compare yourself to others - comparison is the thief of joy

If I am constantly focusing on what others have and what I don’t, I’ll never be happy or fulfilled!

The truth is that I don’t know the full story when looking at the lives of others. I only have a fraction of the story. What I can control is how I take care of myself and how I treat the people in my life.

That’s why comparison is the thief of joy. It only brings us down and makes us feel terrible about ourselves. When I start to get those negative feelings, I remind myself of this. That is how I bring myself back down to earth, and realize that every person has a unique story and special gifts, including me!

There is no blueprint for where you should be in life

For many of us who feel “behind,” we must get to the root of why we feel behind, and realize that we have put these parameters on ourselves. Many people think they should be married by a certain age or purchase a house by a certain age. When that age comes and they haven’t done it, they feel extremely let down.

It’s normal to desire to do something by a certain age, but we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves if we don’t meet that goal. Everyone lives life by their own pace. All you can do is put in effort, live life to the fullest, and follow your passions.

I have really big dreams, none of which have come true yet. But that doesn’t mean they will never come true. I just have to remove these imaginary expectations from my mind, and realize that what’s meant to be will be.

You are exactly where you are meant to be

One of the biggest ways to cope with these feelings is to realize that you are exactly where you are meant to be in this point in time. The more you look at it, you can identify the butterfly effect of many things in your life. Even if you haven’t met specific goals, you have achieved amazing things! Maybe some things have come into your life that you never could’ve imagined!

you are exactly where you are meant to be

You just have to let go a little. I know that it’s so much easier said than done. But if you know that you are putting in the work to make progress in life, you will reach amazing things. And you just might realize that those things you don’t have were never meant for you in the first place!

We are constantly changing and evolving, so remember to take a breath and give yourself grace.

relax. take a breath. give yourself grace

You deserve to be happy! Remind yourself of the things you have achieved.

As I have written about in previous articles, gratitude is extremely pertinent to happiness. When you focus on the things you do have, your mindset shifts.

If you are feeling behind in life, remember that you have already achieved so many amazing things. You are beautiful, intelligent, strong, loveable, and successful.

I am sitting here, writing this from my wonderful little studio apartment in San Diego. I always dreamed of living in a sunny place, surrounded by palm trees. I never thought I would see the ocean from my window. Little things like this remind me that I don’t have to be so “far ahead” in life like I think I do.

You are not alone in these feelings. This is a normal part of the human condition. Please be kind to yourself and focus on how amazing you are!

you deserve to be happy



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