The older I get, the more I’m aware of life being a competition, which is ironic as it is a lot more subtle than it used to be. Back in primary school it was all about who got the highest percentage on an end of term test, or whose plant grew the most flowers. Now it is everything and anything, from friends and relationships to jobs and lifestyle. Social media most definitely doesn’t help – always encouraging you to have the most likes, friends or followers. Success has become a number, not a feeling.
I’ll admit, although I hate to do so, that I get jealous quite easily. It’s not hard when your Instagram and Facebook feeds are full of your friends travelling to exotic places, or doing exciting things. In fact the more time I spend on social media (and I know I’m not alone in this) the worse I can feel about life. The thing is, everyone now edits their life. You only get the good bits and all the exceptional highlights. Photos with a filter are becoming the norm, but everything else goes through a filter too. I have a friend who plans all her twitter statuses in advance so she has chance to edit them, which I found hilarious until I realised that I’m probably the odd one out.
It became obvious to me recently how much these things were getting to me when I was applying for jobs. Applying for jobs, especially your first ‘proper’ job, is really tough and it is even tougher when you aren’t getting anywhere and nobody has a good reason why. To begin with, I didn’t feel completely alone as I knew there were plenty of people who didn’t know what they wanted to do or were struggling to sort things out. However gradually, although it felt like it was daily, updates would appear of people getting things and it would just make me feel worse about myself. What were they doing that I wasn’t?
I am now pleased to announce, that in a roundabout non-conventional sort of way, I have been offered a job. Well, to be precise it is a graduate internship but it is paid, will be a good experience and could lead to something more permanent. It was such a relief to find out. I can now start planning again and feel a lot more stable. I started to tell some close friends, who were all thrilled for me. Then the next day someone posted a cheesy photo of them jumping in the air, delighted because they are starting their first job in the publishing industry. Don’t get me wrong, I am pleased for them and hope they do well, but part of me really wishes that had been me.
Suddenly my success and achievement didn’t feel like one anymore. Then I realised that I needed to stop wallowing and wake up. It is easy to feel jealous, or to sit and complain about how easily things seem to come to certain people, and it is an awful lot harder to feel proud of what are genuine achievements.
I worked hard to get the position I have been offered, and even if it is not what I thought I would be doing, that is exciting. There will be new challenges. I will definitely learn an awful lot, and gain new skills and experiences along the way. I am being paid for this adventure. And I get to move back to my beloved city of York. I may not be winning in life, but I’m not losing either. The people who matter are proud of me, so now I need to start being proud of me too. A success can only be a success if you believe it is one, and for once in my life I think it is time I lowered the bar instead of raising it. It will be a success when I finish this jigsaw which has taken me far too long.