Yesterday I went to Mississauga to see some friends I haven’t seen since I moved in April.
I felt lightheaded and dizzy as I drove to meet up with my best friend from third year. I was terrified to talk about how I was doing, and what my life was looking like now since I graduated. She is currently doing her Masters and living a life that I thought I wanted to live for the longest time. All throughout first, second and third year our values were similar. She wanted to be a dentist, and I wanted to be a pharmacist. We had plans to go to the same school, and have practices next to one another.
But by the time fourth year rolled around my values had begun to change.
I started focusing on what my gut was telling me rather than what society was. I began to go off on my own and find my own way, and she stayed with our original values. She was doing research, staying at school from early in the morning to late in the evening, and still very committed to the dream of being dentist. I stood behind her dreams 100%, but my dreams had changed, and we found it hard to talk about anything we had in common anymore. Needless to say.. our friendship ended at the beginning of fourth year.
We have stayed in touch here and there since our graduation, but we had not seen each other since April when I pulled up into the parking lot of the restaurant.
I promised myself that no matter how she was doing, I would not judge myself or her.
We chatted about our lives. How she is planning to do her PhD (something that I wanted to do not so long ago) and how she still has the dream of becoming a dentist. We talked about how different our lives are. She is in the lab seven days a week, not even taking weekends off, and I am working from home. She is loving her research and I can really tell she is in her element, but as we talked I began to judge myself. I thought back to a time when those were also my dreams. Where a Masters program was not too far in the future, and I had applied to pharmacy school. As she talked more and more about the ongoings of her life, I got that familiar pit in the bottom of my stomach… a mixture of jealousy, judgement and competitiveness. I started thinking that maybe I gave up too soon. Maybe I should have pushed through even though I would have hated my life. I thought about how she is making more money doing her Masters right now than I am working full-time, and I began to go into a spiral as I sat across from my former best friend and talked about my life.
Then I started to do something that I used to do as a coping mechanism not too long ago…
I began to think about how much [I] am better than her. How I had the guts to start my own business. How I don’t have to wake up to an alarm clock. How my income can continue to grow, but hers is fixed. I began to build myself up in my head, by tearing her down. Then I stopped, about as quickly as I started. Because I realized just how toxic that thought pattern is. Sure, if I wanted to, I could do a Masters program and then a PhD, but I would hate it. Sure, she could start her own business, but she would hate it.
OUR LIFE PATHS ARE DIFFERENT.
That is what I reminded myself as I sat at that table. And with that thought came a rush of relief. I chose this path because it is right for me. She chose her path because it is right for her. And you, hopefully, chose your life path because it is right for you.
Here is your reminder today: stop comparing yourself to others and thinking you are worse/better than them. You are just different. We are all on a different journey. Your only mission in life is to be HAPPY. If you are that, then you are on the right track!