Change Becomes You
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Change Becomes You

The Pursuit of Life

When you feel like you are “behind in life”.

Photo by Pete Nowicki on Unsplash

As a late twenty-year-old, all too often I come across this phenomenon of feeling “behind in life”, which can be ushered into our thoughts by a number of sources. Interestingly, I noticed that when this idea is brought up in conversation, it strikes an emotion in nearly everyone in a unique, personal way. Everyone having their own version. Thus, it became clear that this is something that people readily identify with as well as deal with on a much greater scale.

And because so many of us share this feeling, I wanted to dissect and understand where this idea comes from. So I narrowed this down into a fundamental question:

“Why does feeling behind in life come up so much?”

A good representation of where this can arise is the difference between where we are physically and mentally. In essence, if our physical place falls “behind” where we think mentally we should be, can produce this feeling of being behind. Hence, to understand where this divergence between our physical and mental selves, I’ve identified what I think are key drivers. Not surprisingly, the first driver is through conflicts with comparisons.

A large proponent of our internal questioning stemming from comparisons, seem to be partially tethered to what we observe on social media. Primarily, posts typically show some of the most extraordinary moments of peoples’ lives. Clips or pictures of unique destinations, important life events, accomplishments in careers, etc. It is quite simply human nature to compare ourselves to others. As this practice can certainly be advantageous if someone is finding success in an area you’re interested in, it may be in your best interest to identify what they’re doing so that you can be successful too.

Importantly, one commonality of what we see on social media is the best moments of peoples’ lives. We don’t see the hardships or difficulties which are so much ingrained in those accomplishments. Can you blame them? Not many people are enthusiastic of showing the worst parts of their lives nor any of their failures. We don’t observe the self-doubt, fear, regret, stress and anxiety that we all go through. So what we then see, is an inexhaustible source of success which we may not yet have. Therefore, as our culture is surrounded by updates from social media and the hyper-awareness of what others are doing, driving these comparisons, is without question a contributing factor.

As comparisons with others accelerate us forward mentally, where we think we should be , it’s important to shift our focus back on ourselves with a critical reminder to remain patient.

Life cannot be rushed or planned, and perhaps there are lessons or experiences that we still need before we truly move forward.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, allowing our failures to beat us.

Photo by Jonathan Rados on Unsplash

The willingness to accept failure in our own lives is an accelerator for growth, rather than a servant of destruction. It forces us to face our own inner struggles that propel us forward. But what can so often happen, is that failure is a major contributor in generating fear, leading to the notion of not trying.

Without our willingness and acceptance of failure, we will never try and always feel that we are not where we should be in life.

Fear is a toxic and influential emotion that is fed by our own courage, hope, strength, and our confidence. Although fear is a real and natural emotion we all are faced with, it only survives if we let it. Hence, the feeling of being behind in life is merely the result of an internal starvation. A starvation of what fear has taken away, our courage, strength, and confidence. But importantly, we can build ourselves back up and restore what we have been essentially robbed of. One way to do this is to change our perspective. If we focus on ourselves, we may find that we are exactly where we need to be and when we need to be there. Another consideration is to limit the level of engagement we have with our own fear.

The greatest way for having our own inner perspective and limiting our fears is having systems in place for ourselves that serve as a means to reach a goal. Failure is abundant with any pursuit toward a goal. However, without goals, we easily become stagnant. Without failure, we do not learn nor do we grow. We remain comfortable, further contributing to a motionless life. Therefore having a goal drives us to focus on that goal, making small incremental changes, failing along the way and progressing.

Photo by Victor Rodriguez on Unsplash

If we focus our perspective on ourselves by striving to obtain the goals we set, without the hindrance of comparisons with others, will undoubtedly provide us with a sense of being exactly where we need to be.

In reality, there is no such thing as “being behind in life”.

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Life advice that will (actually) change your life. Curated stories from The Good Men Project.

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Ryan A. Martin, Ph.D.

Ryan A. Martin, Ph.D.

Scientist and science communicator, lover of fitness, an active lifestyle, and personal growth.

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