Seek moments and don’t compare yourself to others
When I was young, I thought that with age came the ability to dispel the incessant insecurities that plagued my childhood and the knowledge to be confident in my decisions. At the very least, enough confidence to not consistently second guess myself. But insecurity still haunts me. At night, I second guess every decision and scrutinize every comment that either I or someone else made while I lose sleep and stare at the ceiling.
Every day at work, I trace back through each step to try and remember if I locked the door, or turned off the stove, or fed the cats, or let the dogs back into the house, or turned off the coffee maker. I’m never fully satisfied until I am home again and seeing it with my own eyes. All these thoughts, and many more, cycle through my mind while I am at work, nagging away, always overshadowing every other thought.
Back when I was young, happiness could not be found. No matter where I went or what I did, it seemed as though happiness was always just out of my grasp. People spouted overused inspirational quotes, telling me to not worry, be happy, but to those who have not battled with depression and anxiety, it is not that simple. Even now, happiness is still difficult to find and people don’t seem to fully understand.
What doesn’t help is seeing others around me appear to be happy. All over social media there are posts of people living their best life. For the most part, I know that it is just a front. No one is happy all the time, but the pictures of smiling faces create an illusion that I am the only one who is unhappy. It also makes me wonder how people can afford to live the lives they are living. All people seem to do is treat themselves to new toys, vacations, clothing, and fancy meals, while posting selfies in front of the mirrors at the gym. Am I the only one who cannot afford to live so extravagantly? Or have time to exercise regularly? Or regularly eat healthy home-cooked meals?
Over the years though, I have learned how to curb the negative thoughts and fears. They are still there, but they are a bit quieter. Happiness still evades me, as it did when I was young, but I have learned how to find little pieces of joy and try to live as contently as possible.
I have to focus on myself and not worry about what others have, unless it is to make sure they have enough. But to compare my life to those presented on social media is futile. I recently saw a photo on Instagram, of all places, that showed an apple with a bite out of it one side. On the other side of the apple was a mirror that reflected back what appeared to be a whole apple without any pieces missing.
I cling to the memory of this image as I scroll through social media and talk to people. We all present our best selves while hiding the piece that has been taken away from us.
For years I did this. I still do, but not to the same extent. In 2016, I had reached an end point. I couldn’t hide the loneliness and the pain and came far too close to ending my own life. No one knew how close I had come, not even my wife, until the day I broke down at work. After the initial embarrassment wore off, people opened up to me about their own struggles and fears and I knew that I wasn’t alone.
I may never fully know what it is like to be happy, but I know that I have what it takes to keep going. And I know that I am not alone.
Featured Image: No one is happy all the time, and it’s futile to compare yourself to the image people present on social media. | Pixabay