Comparison is the thief of joy

Photo: Daria Nepriakhina

I’ve spent so much time trying not to compare myself to other people that I have found I am constantly comparing myself to me.

Me a year ago, tweets full of happiness and job satisfaction.

Me a year ago who had perfect skin and an absolutely killer makeup collection to match.

Me a year ago who had just moved into the most beautiful flat after living with family for the year before that.

Me a year ago who was content with working overtime, eating meal deals, sitting in the pub with friends and watching Vines in bed without a care in the world.

Me in 2013, skinny, glowing, starting university with the best three years of my life ahead of me and the world at my feet in the best city on the planet.

Me at any other time than now.

The Me Now is feeling like my life is getting worse and worse. For some reason, I can’t shake this feeling that I’m running out of things to live for. Not in a dramatic, life-ending way, just in a way that makes me feel I’ve peaked too soon.

I have this odd feeling that I’m not even living my life anymore. I feel like I’m existing, days pass, but I’m not living in the same way everyone else is. Like I just don’t have a life. This feeling has become even more apparent to me this past week because I have been quarantined into my own home, as in I am not actually allowed to leave the house, because I have a highly contagious bacterial infection. (I KNOW. AS IF THINGS COULDN’T GET ANY MORE SAD IN MY OWN HEAD. YOU GOTTA LAUGH GUYS. FUCKING TRAPPED IN MY OWN HOUSE BECAUSE I LOW KEY HAVE THE PLAGUE.)

Anyway, I told my Mum about how I was feeling so sad because my life now compared to a year ago is supposedly so shit. I keep looking at Timehop (the worst platform for comparing yourself) and wondering what went wrong, why I don’t wake up with optimism and purpose anymore as I did for such a long time last winter. She suggested that maybe I was remembering all these times as being better than they actually were, and she could be right, but overall I remember feeling really happy around these times which is why it sucks to remember them now and feel like all I’ve done is take steps backwards.

As a lifelong depression and anxiety suffer, it’s discouraging when you have had such an excellent peak for so long and then you dip down again, not knowing what you did wrong. I know my downfall started when I got a promotion at my old job that I didn’t really want and wasn’t ready for which I blew out of proportion stress-wise, and at the same time I entered into a new relationship that if I’m honest has snowballed so quickly into being so serious. I really love my boyfriend but I’ve always been a Single Person and I’ve never done well in relationships. No matter how good the relationship is the fact that I’m such an introvert means I need so much alone time that when I don’t get it for a while it can manifest into feelings of being trapped.

In JANUARY of this year people were telling me that I would soon adjust to my new role at my job. In JANUARY I broke out in the most intense stress I have ever experienced. In JANUARY people told me I would adjust to my new relationship. In JANUARY I stopped sleeping.

I didn’t adjust to my new job. I ended up quitting way after I should have and letting it get to me in the deepest and darkest way when in reality it meant very little. The job had nothing to do with my career and I’ve been able to function without it. I really miss my friends from that job but overall I don’t regret leaving. I haven’t really adjusted to my relationship. Coming from a single parent family, I spent a large proportion of the part of my life that I can remember living with just my mum and sister. Will I ever get used to living with a man? Probably not. But I’m giving it my best shot.

I’ve had 3 full nights sleep since January. I’ve been stressed about one thing or another since then. And my heart absolutely aches when I think of last Christmas Eve, working overtime doing the best shift ever with people I love at my old job. The Christmas before that, decorating the tree with my Dad and his girlfriend while we were waiting for my little sister to be born. Christmases before spent in Ireland with my family but most of the time spent texting friends from uni and wanting to get back to classes. I can’t help but wonder if it really is all downhill from this point on, or if I’m just remembering everything with rose-tinted glasses. I know so much of my life is ahead of me and that a lot of my happiness relies on the choices I make, and creating memories for myself, but I’m genuinely scared that nothing is going to get better.

One of the things no one tells you about being an adult is that with no parents or uni mates to drag you along to days out or parties, firework displays or Christmas markets, you really do have to make your own fun and make sure you’re actually doing something for yourself to keep your spirits up, which is especially hard when you don’t really live near anyone you love.

I’m sure in years past I wasn’t as happy as I remember I was and in years to come I might look back on this time and think of it fondly, or hopefully remember how I managed to get myself out of my year-long slump and find that fun-filled, optimistic existence I remember having. Maybe one day soon I’ll look on those happy memories and smile rather than feeling this pain in my chest and longing for times gone by.

I guess it really is true that we should all live in the moment and seize every opportunity we’re given. I hope 2019 has many more happy memories to come. And I hope I stop comparing myself to the old me and just get on with living my life as it is now.

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