The Road Less Traveled | Why You Can't Win Someone Else's Race
And first place goes to….
The other day, my mom called me crying --- upset because it seemed like everyone around her was just passing her by.
It was as if everyone else was achieving the goals she had set for herself, while she was lagging behind... she was literally watching everyone win a race and she wasn't even close to the finish line.
While I struggled to find the words, any words, comforting enough to make those feelings of inadequacy fade, I couldn’t help but wonder:
How can some people win so well; while others are losing so badly?
I mean, of course when someone starts to share feelings of falling short we instantly try to soothe them with adages like "Don't worry -- things will work out in their own time;" but, as I launched into an empathetic speech about not letting life get her down, I felt a pang of guilt. Guilt for soothing her with words I didn’t truly believe.
"Why does it seem like everyone is passing me by?"
It's a question I've asked myself a thousand times over the past few months. It's a phrase that is the literal manifestation of that sinking feeling you get when you see someone else succeeding in areas that you can't seem to grasp. Yes, you’re genuinely happy for them; but, you can't help but feel pity for yourself because you feel like somehow you’re just not measuring up.
It’s a feeling I’m sure we’ve all experienced at least once in our lives.
It creeps in every time a friend graduates with their Master’s or PhD -- while we still have our Bachelors. It looms over us when we’re scrolling down our timelines, and see yet ANOTHER person getting engaged or married -- while we’re still dating or extremely single.
For most of our days, our emotions lie dormant; but, somehow... without fail, they show up when it seems like everyone around us is reaching their goals and we're still stagnant. It's like everyone is part of this elusive club that we can't get into ----- and no matter how hard we try, there's a secret to life that we just haven't figured out.
As a result, we spend our lives in a constant state of comparison. Comparing ourselves to our friends, old classmates, co-workers and randoms we see on Instagram. We get downtrodden by what we see because from the outside it seems like they’re moving and experiencing elevation while we’re still stuck.
Our need to keep up then drags us down mentally and emotionally, and as we fight to have what someone else has, we lose sight of what we’ve already accomplished, or what our goals were in the first place.
Because of this, no matter how much we do or acquire ---- compared to “them” what we have never seems good enough.
As I listened to my mother speak about her feelings, it dawned on me: Why is it that we feel like need to win someone else’s race?
I mean we fight so hard for the things we have and are grateful for them; but, no matter what we do, when we compare ourselves to others, it feels like we’ll never get to where we need to be! It seems like there is always going to be someone doing better.
This envelops our whole perspective on success and often times we feel like we are doing worse than we are, solely because of what we perceive.
The reality is though, it will always seem that way.
I know it seems harsh -- but, it's the truth.
The reality is, from the other side of the fence others will always seem like they're doing better. It's not because they've done more than you, or are "better" than you; it's because they are running a different race than you. They are NOT running YOUR race ---- and you are most definitely not running theirs.
I know society makes us think that life itself is the "race" ; but, the truth is, our races are individual, designed solely and specifically for us. Therefore, it's impossible for anyone BUT us to win within our own lives.
Think about it, how can someone be doing better than you in a life that is not your own?
Each person has different families, upbringings, experiences, and situations that shape who they are. We all have particular aspects of our beings that work together to create a life that is uniquely our own.
Everything we have and have experienced, has shaped and molded us individually and therefore, it's impossible to compare ourselves to others. It's like apples and oranges! Yes -- they're both fruit; but, they are so completely different that one cannot be "better" than the other (at least not characteristically).
The same goes for us. Our lives and experiences are so different that there is no way we can be measured against each other. As a result, there is no way we can beat someone in the imaginary race we believe we're in.
We may have trials and tribulations; but, they're all part of the training process to lead us to our own finish lines.
As my conversation with my mom came to an end, I realized that the only advice I could give her (and myself) was to stop. Stop looking at other people and the things that they have and have accomplished. Stop looking at yourself and the stuff you don’t have in comparison.
Everything we go through, and everything we have or don’t have work together to design a life that is purposed just for us!
Each person is made different -- physically, emotionally, psychologically, financially, and behaviorally. We all have identities and environments specific to us and that is what makes us so special.
The reality is, no two people are the same and ultimately neither are their races.
So, the next time you see someone graduate while you're just trying to scrape through school; or buying a house, while you're struggling to save; just remember that you are not losing, or failing, or getting left behind. You are winning the race that was designed specifically for you.
If you are struggling today with feelings of inadequacy; or you've been feeling like things just aren’t working out for you, just take a moment to reflect on your life. Think of all of the things and situations that have developed you as a person and be grateful for them. Shake off any feelings like someone else is doing better or has more, because you have everything you need for the place that you are in.
Whatever the pace, just know you are winning!