With the comparison trap and the constant focus on "staying ahead", sometimes it can feel a little draining to be doing it all. There have been so many times when I've felt like I have been left behind - maybe I haven't fulfilled the milestones that everyone else seemed to have already completed forever ago, maybe haven't been doing as well as the person next to me. These feelings are natural.

Kate writes about how she struggled with this same feeling, how she got over it, and what she learned from the whole experience.

This series is a part of the Hindsight series. If you don't know what that is, here's a brief summary:

The Hindsight series consists of guest posts from various bloggers sharing their stories on Bloomly about any personal experience that they might have encountered that reflects personal growth, self-improvement, and/or struggles with mental health. The Hindsight series is about looking back on experiences that shaped who we are and have helped us grow, which we only see now with hindsight.

Learn more: About the Hindsight Series 
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If there was one thing I know about running (and I know squat, because I’m definitely not a sportsy gal), it’s that a sprint and a marathon are two opposite sides of a spectrum. The difference between a sprint and a marathon is easy to see, even for a non-runner like me. Sprints are short, marathons are long.

Take my first two years in university for example. I always thought of them as sprints. Like any sprinter, I placed all my energy into improving my speed. Maximizing every movement in my muscle to be faster. Quicker reaction time, quicker strides -- all to create a great start.

I’m sure I’m not the only freshman who had these thoughts upon entering college:
Aim high, finish fast. Always be the first of everything. That’s how you’ll succeed.

I sure as heck thought this way.

My college department was a highly competitive environment. You’d think accounting students are boring but let me tell y’all: accounting students are far from it. Accounting students, like all other students, hustle. They clamor for the best review sources, the best study places and the best seniors to mentor them.

I was caught in the middle of it all. Hustling on extracurriculars but also trying to be on top of my studies. Keeping a watchful, borderline-shifty eye (that I’m sooo not proud of, by the way) on other students, being inspired by them but also being secretly competitive.

I felt like I was running one sprint after another. 

Putting out high amounts of energy constantly to place first and finish fast. But then I had to put in more work because I felt like I was behind. Then I had to put in more work. And then more. It’s a vicious cycle.

As it often happens, I burnt out. Hard.

The summer after my second year, due to financial problems my family was facing, I decided to stop schooling. I went back to my childhood home, my grandparents’ house, and stayed there for five months. These five months would have been my first semester of my third year in uni.

For the first several weeks, I stayed away from Facebook. I didn’t want to read my college friends’ posts or hear them talk about how stressful college life was. When I finally did, it was a couple months in and I thought it was okay.

Nope. Not okay at all.

I guess I didn’t really expect things to hit painfully as much as it did. But boy was it painful.

I felt like an exhausted runner in the last place. Trying so hard to catch up to the people in front of me. But no matter how hard I pushed myself, they’re just moving faster and faster, farther and farther away. It’s an awful thing, to feel so helpless and incompetent. To see others forging ahead and making progress while you are there, keeping at a snail’s pace. It didn’t do well to my mental wellbeing nor to my already low self-esteem.

The next several days, I was in and out of this dark mental state. I kept thinking, I’m left behind. They’re all sprinting ahead while I’m here stuck. I am behind. Behind. Behind. Behind.

That word was a chant my mind kept saying.

And then… it just stopped.

I didn’t know what happened. I won’t say it happened one ordinary day. Like it was a sudden thing, a Eureka moment, because it definitely wasn’t. It was slow and gradual -- recovery often is, I now know. But I climbed out of that deep dark hole. I guess I knew I needed to.

(I still suspect it was being in the constant company of chickens. But I digress.)

For the next few months, I spent my time writing, and learning new creative hobbies like photography and watercolor. Making new online friends and learning from them. Most afternoons, I sat in my grandparents’ backyard, surrounded by chickens. Thinking. Reflecting. Accepting my flaws and learning to love who I was at that moment. Thinking of my life. How it was and how I want it to be. What direction I want to take with it.

Even now, whenever I look back in my life, I thought of those five months away from college as a turning point. But for a long time, I didn’t know why or how so. But it was always on my mind, brewing. Like my recovery, it was slow and gradual.

Then it hit me.

Those five months? That’s when I stopped racing with others.

It was a rollercoaster ride, for sure. But it was then that I stopped comparing my progress with others’. Instead, I focused on my own progress and self-growth. I tried to build myself up without trying to break anyone down--including myself.

And here’s the golden cherry to top it all off, dear readers:
We are all running on different paths in different paces.

It turns out? Life isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. And you are the only runner in your own race. There may be times when it seems like other people are running in the same direction, but at one point or another, they’d go a different way. They aren’t ahead of you. Nor are you behind. You aren’t left behind at all.

You may have a few stops, here and there. Probably take a detour somewhere. But the important thing is, you’re moving. Keep at it on your own unique pace. And keep at it consistently. In the long run, that’s what matters far more.
About the Author: Kate
Kate is the smol happy child behind All The Trinkets, a personal growth and creativity blog. She deeply believes every single person in this beautiful world has a seed of creativity and happy growth inside them. When not blogging, you can find her painting pretty people or talking to her beloved cactus, Watson.

2 comments:

  1. YES! I am all about doing things in my own time this year! I feel like I've been caught in the trap of comparing myself, but people are on different journeys so you really can't compare!

    xoxo
    Jess
    The Crown Wings | UK Travel & Lifestyle Blog

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    1. glad you were able to relate! focus on your own journey!
      Rebecca

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