Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited with the famous quote, “Life is about the journey, not the destination.”
We hear quotes like this so frequently that we become numb to the power behind the words.
If we look at life as a race, what’s the finish line? What is our destination? When we come to the end of our lives, we all look back and see completely different things. Your journey won’t look like mine, and our accomplishments and struggles will be different.
When we’re kids, we can’t wait until we get older and don’t have to listen to our parents anymore. We think of some milestones that we just can’t wait to reach. It seems there is always some goal that we’re trying to check off our list—and that’s not always a bad thing. I remember I just wanted to fast forward in time so my great-grandparents could see me walk across the stage before they passed.
Many of these milestones are memorable events in life: college, graduation, marriage and starting a family. Add in some work goals and promotions, a few grandkids—and before you know it, you’re toward the end of life wondering where the time went. We are so concerned with making it to that next goal that we forget to cherish the little nuances of life. We are too busy to stop and smell the roses.
If it’s not the small goals we strive toward, sometimes we can get caught up in comparing our entire lives to others'. I find myself doing this especially at this stage in my life. We are all in college, yet some of us seem to be much farther in the race than others.
Just because Bonnie is engaged and looking for houses doesn’t mean she’s better or more mature than you. Just because you plan to move back in with your parents doesn’t mean you’re still a kid.
You’re comparing yourself to the classmate who got married and moved away because of her husband’s job? I guarantee she is comparing her life to yours because you’re still close with your family and friends and not in a city full of strangers. There are always two sides to every story.
Social media plays a huge role in comparing ourselves and our journeys to each other. We constantly have instant access to any and all information about most of the people at our college, in our town, etc. It’s not uncommon for news of Jane’s engagement to spread before the night ends due to the obsession with Snapchat and Instagram. Then some of her acquaintances start talking about how young and stupid it is to get married, but how beautiful her ring is. Now, everyone else in town must make their wedding bigger, their dress more expensive and their ring more unique than hers.
And of course there's always someone who's still single, and they feel horrible because everyone's growing up and getting married.
It's OK It's your own life, and no one knows the details and the reasons behind your choices in life. It’s crazy how much we compare ourselves to others!
While we often fall prey to the comparisons, what’s worse is when we purposely compare our lives. Nothing aggravates me more than hearing how successful my cousins are and how I can’t ever do anything right compared to them. I would much rather my family thrive in their fields of study so we can all live our own lives, instead of constantly doing the same things so it’s literally an academic and career-oriented competition.
Who cares if he’ll graduate a semester before me?
Who cares if she does her student teaching in a city school and I get placed in a county school?
We are two totally different people, with two completely different skill sets and personalities. We are uniquely different individuals, so it’s silly to compare ourselves.
Above all, just remember that you were created like no one else before you. There will never be anyone else with your same attributes and talents.
Be proud of yourself. Take pride in your life and all you’ve accomplished. Don’t let anyone belittle you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made by the Lord. Stand firm in your hopes, dreams and convictions. Don’t let other people’s engagements and new jobs get in your head. God has a plan for your life, and He’s ready to take you on your own amazing journey.