When I was a child, I wanted to become an artist.
When I was a teenager, I wanted to become a Diplomat.
Being in my early 20s, I wanted nothing more than a stable job and financial security.
Living in modern society where social pressure is always present, I found it difficult to focus on my current pace and needs. As I entered adulthood, I began to contemplate and dwell on my ‘early 20s crisis’—a period of soul-searching filled with uncertainty, confusion and anxiety. Not only did it pushed me to the edge, but it also forced me to live up to the social expectations around me: having to earn a stable career, a well-paid salary and financial independence. All of a sudden, I had all these responsibilities and priorities laid in front of me. Experiencing burnout or stress and simply disregarding these issues became a common practice. “Kerja keras bagai kuda” (“work hard like a horse”), they said.
As I began to jump deeper into my work and career, I became more aware that not only am I focusing on my daily tasks and assignments, but I started to become more focused on comparing my career to others.
I started to open my Linkedin application more often, and I found myself jumping into other people’s profiles. As I kept scrolling, I kept admiring the prestigious companies that they work for and how amazing their career achievements are. This vicious habit made me start to question myself and why I’m not doing as well. I started questioning my journey and why I’m earning less than these people I look up to, or why I’m working in a less prestigious company. I started asking the question Am I good enough?
Comparing my life to others has resulted in my self-confidence rolling down a hill which left me anxious and short of breath. I also found myself slowly sinking into a pool of insecurity, doubt and fear. I felt like I was chased by time as if I needed to rush and push myself so that I would be the first runner to reach the finish line—so that I would achieve the gold medal. As if life was a race, I began running faster, and faster. Even with all my energy and effort, I realized that my legs simply couldn’t go any faster. I just kept getting left behind which left me gasping for air. No matter what I did, I was always getting left behind.
As I tried to understand myself and my own personal journey, I slowly started to learn to accept that…
Maybe it’s okay to not be in the front line of the race.
I started to realize that everybody has their own track and pace in life. Whether it’s our career, relationships or even the amount of money we make, everyone has their own pace and timing. Everyone simply has their own path to take. You may work in a startup while your other friend is working in a multinational company—and there’s nothing wrong with that. Forcing ourselves to be better, and to strive for perfection really isn’t healthy for our wellbeing. It’s important for us to remember that everyone has their own personal journey and that comparing ourselves to others often leaves us feeling incompetent.
That being said, maybe we shouldn’t treat our job or career merely as a vehicle to gain financial stability.
Maybe we should also stop for a second to appreciate what we are doing. We should even reward ourselves for our hard work, instead of constantly wanting to do more and be better.
Maybe instead of comparing our jobs to someone else’s, we have to start to believe in ourselves and our own journey in life.
Truth is, we tend to forget that little steps matter in the long run.
These baby steps that we take are essential for our personal growth in all aspects of our life. So, every time you find yourself looking into other people’s lives and careers, stop and ask yourself the reason why you’re doing this and whether it benefits your wellbeing. Remember that it’s important to appreciate yourself every once in a while and that you are doing the best you can.