No such thing as a life that's better than yours
2022 is the year I stop comparing myself to people.
I’ve had the idea of satisfaction on my mind a lot lately. Everyone wants it, but few ever seek it out. Most ignore what satisfies them in order to follow someone else’s dream — only to complain later that it’s not what they wanted, but it’s impossible to ever feel truly satisfied.
One example that’s stuck in my head: Molly-Mae was in the news for what she said in an interview with Steven Barlett recently. One of her comments was how she’s never ever satisfied with what she achieves because she’s always looking for more: £2 million instead of £1 million, a bigger house with more rooms, and fewer friends apparently. To which Steven asked how she could ever be happy? It’s an oddly unsatisfying mindset, but she’s not alone; she’s just one of the few in today’s world who’ve said publicly.
Competing with other people is a trap. Comparing yourself with others is forgetting that life isn’t a race — and if it were, you’d never be in the same one as someone else anyway. You’ll always be aiming for something different, even slightly.
You don’t need to be the best. Nobody’s looking for it. Nor do you have to be unique. People have it in their minds to either copy everyone else to be successful — losing the shape of themselves — or reinvent the wheel. No one’s asking for a new wheel.
Our lives seem to be getting faster every day, a little bit at a time. But now competitiveness is a proprietary model of society which makes you miserable most of the time. And most of the time, you don’t need to care about winning — at least, not in the way we currently think about it.
Even having fun these days turns into a competition. You come into work after the weekend, and it becomes a game of who did more. Everyone wants to do more than their friends. Things like this are too frantic to try to keep up with, and often it facilitates resentment.
I have to be honest here. Competing with others is natural; it’s not entirely our fault to want to do that. But it damn well is nobody else’s responsibility to change how it makes us feel and stop doing it. People will run in circles for months, years, blaming anyone but themselves. Fixating on other people’s lives despite their friend’s shouting at them to wake up, only to assume what they’re hearing is a blur of noise. But some people are so dominated by their superego that they think life runs on suffering for a “need”, that they undyingly commit to chasing only the things they like the idea of.
I’ve been there. But I sure as hell won’t be going back.
Society’s made the desire for competition more intense due to the increased pressure to succeed; you have people clambering onto social media and announcing everything or showing off their achievements while acting like it carried no effort. It’s very easy to lose sight of our path at times, get carried away, and start despising others purely for what they have that we don’t rather than because they’re a terrible person. It can be demoralising, but you decide how you feel. And if you don’t like it, change it. Don’t let it persist and do nothing.
I tell myself that if I think negatively about something, it’s my responsibility to feel better. When I was younger, trying to find myself led to me constantly and mistakingly copying everyone else. If everyone likes them, why not try to be like them? Why not follow suit? Do you think it worked? Obviously not.
I learned that every time I tried to compete with or compare myself to someone else, I ended up miserable. I didn’t win. There was no such thing. But we often take life advice from people who don’t know what they care about or understand what makes them happy. We follow people who abhor their will to achieve something that gives them happiness and joy and only care about the things that provide approval.
People’s perception of what a good life is stems from a performative view: if you’re tall and muscular, or simply beautiful, or smart and loveable then really special people will approve of you. And many believe that satisfaction is truly nonexistent.
But feeling free means you have to stop wanting approval, to stop waiting for permission. You and I must stop seeking that signal we might think matters more than anything else. Ava puts it beautifully: we chase what we can never enjoy as a way of avoiding the question of what to do when we get it.
From 2022, competition is a trap. Getting away from it means knowing what to do for what you really want and the person you want to become. It means to stop wanting to be “right” all the time and beat others for the sake of it. And really, all that can need is for us to dedicate time every day to sit down and think about it. Because the fastest ways to solve the hardest problems are usually the simplest solutions that take an unusually long time to think of.
What I’ve Learned
The world contains more information than any one person can learn in their lifetime, and it’s easy these days to spend too much time focusing on topics that are not worth our precious time. James Clear says: “The question is not whether you are ignorant, but what you choose to be ignorant about”. Being a seeker of knowledge can be a good thing, but we eventually forget most because the upkeep is costly. Take great care in what you choose to pay attention to.
What’s on My Mind
Work was recently the busiest it’s been since I joined in October, but this time I reacted very differently to the stress of it. One time, a few weeks in, I ended the week super stressed out and had to leave some work unfinished. But this time around, I felt comfortable, satisfied and pleased with the hard work I’d done this week. I think it came down to this: one of my boss’s said early on that she wants me always to bring my most comfortable self to work. She explained that she wants me to be as comfortable as possible here, whether that’s how I dress, how I talk, what I eat, etc. I don’t need to worry about the other fancily dressed and borderline robotic departments I work alongside. And since then, I dropped my shoulders and relaxed a lot more. It worked wonders.
One Timeless Quote
“Never say yes on the spot. Always give yourself some space. Make it a rule. Tell people. That’s what Daniel Kahneman does. When he’s on the phone he says ‘my rule is I never say yes on the phone. I’ll email you later after I think about it more.’ And when I asked him how often he later says yes, he responded ‘rarely.’”
My Favourite Things This Week
Have a wonderful week,