“Are you f**king kidding me?” These we’re the words I blurted out when I received the results to my tenth standard NIOS board exams. I was already being homeschooled because “the Indian school system sucks”, and I still managed to fail one subject. I had even studied my butt off the night before and figured I had all my bases covered, but alas, Social Studies and Economics would be my downfall. I was a ‘FAILURE’, and now because I failed I would get a SAD job and be unhappy for the rest of my life… ←This is what the narrative of my life looked like from society’s point of view.
Growing up, I wasn’t particularly good at studies, but I knew how to get by. I managed getting through my science classes, math was ‘OK’, english was a breeze, I was decent at economics (even if it did end up being my eventual downfall😒), Hindi... I was ‘BAD’ at Hindi. The current trajectory I was on was putting me on a path toward mediocrity and unhappiness, at least that’s what society was telling me. The sad thing is… I let it happen.
If this all sounds familiar to you, stick around.
Our lives are a constant plea for validation and approval. The college we get into, the job we will get as a result, and the approval we get from family and friends all rest on our ability to prove ourselves in some way or the other. Society has a way of placing an immense amount of expectation and pressure on our ability to prove our worth or value.
I grew up being compared to everyone around me and as I result I developed a habit of comparing myself to everyone around me. Whether on social media or at work, my life was one big contest where I was out to prove that I was worth something. As a result, I did everything to make sure my parents were proud of me, and to make sure my friends thought I was cool. Life ended up feeling like one big never ending beauty pageant, where the judges were my parents, friends, and social media followers. (I honestly have nothing against beauty pageants)
We crave this validation and approval so much that we end up basing our identity on it. We don’t want people to see us as failures so we portray lives of control, happiness, and success on the outside, but really we’re breaking apart on the inside. We’re bombarded by unrealistic expectations when all we’re exposed to on social media are people showing off their ‘perfect’ lives (perfect jobs, perfect bodies, perfect boyfriends/girlfriends, perfect cars and bikes, etc). Our parents always seem to bring up the fact that PERSON X has an amazing job where he’s making so much money and doing so much better than you.
In fact, social media has made it even easier for us to fall down holes of self judgement and comparison. When was the last time you saw someone post a selfie after they failed an exam or bombed a job interview? Here’s the thing…Life is tough and unfair
If there’s one thing all of this has taught me, it’s that life is tough and unfair.
“Some people will get a better job than me, but it’s ok.”
“A lot of people are way better at math and science than me, and that’s ok too.”
“He will always have better abs than me, so what?”
If I let myself be constantly weighed down by everything I’m not the best at, my life will be a downward spiralling mess of despair and unhappiness. Ummm…. no thank you. When your life revolves around comparison and unrealistic expectation, you’re setting yourself up for that to be the only reality you identify with.
Your past is your past... It’s happened.. It’s now time to unfurl your sails and begin sailing again. Yeah, I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s what you need to do. You need to believe that you are bigger than your past, your failures and inadequacies. You have your whole life ahead of you, and you aren’t going to get there unless you decide to leave the dock and set sail.
The unknown is scary, but it’s supposed to be. It’ll bring a whole new set of challenges, you might fail at a few of them, but as long as you know that you’re moving forward, you’ll be fine!Learn from your failure
And no, not in the cliché way.. I’m 24, and there’s not a ton I’ve accomplished in life, but everything I have achieved has come from working through repeated instances of failure. In fact, you’ll find that this is true for most ‘successful’ people in the world (Businessmen/women, sports stars, entrepreneurs, doctors, actors, etc). You’ll need to learn to look back on your failures as stepping stones, not just any old stepping stones, but ones moving you forward.
Surround yourself with the right people
This one is huge! The power that community has in bring about change in people’s lives is something not to be overlooked. The longer you surround yourself with people who are self absorbed and selfish, the more you’ll became like them. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that these are usually the people who find satisfaction in putting you down. The fear of losing their approval leads you to live a life of constantly hiding away your fears and failures, and replacing them with fake smiles and false portrayals of happiness.
If you’re looking for a community that is encouraging and is focused on building you up, look no further than our community forum. We promise that you’ll find a safe and secure place to be yourself, and share your honest unfiltered thoughts.Focus on being a better you
You need to believe that you’re unique and special, and that you aren’t going to let the standards of the world weigh down on you. People out there will always have a better and more successful version of yourself that they’ll want to shove down your throat. The quest for their approval is never ending, and filled with haters and naysayers. It’s a quest that isn’t worth your soul.
Instead, focus on how you can be a better version of the person you were yesterday. Focus on loving people, yourself, and your family. The more you practice this the more you’ll see your life change, and the lives of people around you.
Just remember that there is a God who values and loves you. He doesn’t compare you to those around you, and even doesn’t need you to be the best. He loves you as you in spite of your failures and inadequacies. I know, I find it hard to wrap my head around it too, but trust me, resting in the love you find in Jesus can truly change your life.
If you need someone to talk to, feel free to reach out to us. We’d love to be there with you on whatever journey you’re on.