The Ultimate Question: Is the Grass Greener on the Other Side?

Comparison is literally the worst. I think we tell ourselves that we don’t compare ourselves to others, but with so many messages being thrown at us on a daily basis, we start to question if what we’re doing is what we should be.

I spend some of my time wondering if I’m making enough money, what’s a responsible amount to have saved, and why do I feel guilty about going to Panera? I know I’m lucky that I still live at home and my parents still pay for some stuff, but I pay for most of my own things—credit card bill, medical and dental insurance (yes, I’m now on my own insurance at 24), student loans, car payment and car insurance, rent to my mom, and other miscellaneous things. I think I have a decent amount of money saved away but I feel so bad spending money on some things, like going out to dinner with a friend or getting a tea at Starbucks. I mean, it could be worse and I could be making ridiculous purchases, but it feels like the little stuff adds up quickly. I keep a close eye on my credit card and cash spending—I have been for the last year in a Google spreadsheet—so I know how much I’m spending each month, and it seems reasonable. The necessities with a few extras thrown in.

Why does everything in life come back to money? It either makes us incredibly happy or incredibly miserable. I know I’m young—only three years of out of undergrad as of this May—and I’m lucky to have a good job with good benefits. My parents aren’t pushing me out anytime soon, and people tell me it’s good that I still live at home so I can save. Maybe I need financial literacy? But I feel like you can end up down a rabbit hole with something like that. Do you guys follow any programs or have read anything about finances you feel are beneficial?

If I find out one of my friends is talking to a guy and/or went out on a date, I’m happy for her. But then I wonder if I should be jumping back into the dating pool. Would talking to a guy make me happy? Would it fill this weird void that I feel inside when I start comparing myself to others? But after deleting dating apps off my phone for the third time last year in October, I know I don’t want a relationship right now. Or to at least actively look for one. If something fell in my lap, then cool, but I just don’t want to waste my time on the cat and mouse game of talking to someone and ultimately getting ghosted. It’s not worth it to me. I got all of the first relationship stuff out of the way with my ex-boyfriend in college, and now that I’ve had a relationship, I’m okay now being on my own. Prior to having my relationship, having an actual boyfriend was something I always wanted, because I watched friends in high school be in relationships and I felt left out. My relationship was a good first relationship. But at this time in my life, I’m fine being single.

I used to do job comparison a lot, especially after we hit the one year post-grad mark and people I went to school with were getting new jobs while I was still looking for a new one. I’m very happy in my new position and can see myself here for a while, so I’ve stopped comparing my job and education to others. When will I start to feel this confidence in other aspects of my life?

What causes this downward spiral of comparison? Is it the thought that the grass is always greener? Or that we’re never truly happy with ourselves unless we have what other people have? Is it just something that’s hard-wired into us as humans?I’m sure social media and FOMO have something to do with it, since we basically share our entire lives on there.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m content with my life. I have my family, I’m healthy, I’m doing things that I enjoy. I had placed a lot of weight on my job, since you spend all four years of your college career with that as an end goal, and my first job gave me a lot of experience—experience that helped me get my current job. It’s expected that people move on eventually. I’m grateful that I’m healthy and only have a few minor things to keep under control, like my awful seasonal allergies. It seems like the two things that are always top of mind are money and relationships. Is that because we’re told both will make us happy and should be our ultimate end goals? But you can have all of the money and friends in the world and be miserable. It’s about finding a happy balance—one that works for you.

We’re all on different paths at different times in our lives with different circumstances. It might seem easy to compare where you are with where someone else is, but you two could be at two completely different points in your lives. How do we stop putting so much pressure on ourselves because we see people doing things we wish we could or have things we wish we had?

How do you deal with comparison? What do you find yourself comparing with others? How do we stop the cycle and just be happy with what we have?

14 comments

  1. I have always had this comparison problem, even as a kid (I was unusually aware of my families financial situation as a child and always afraid other kids would figure out how poor we were). But I’m learning to put it behind me. Maybe it has something to do with the older generation in my life having health failures- seeing their loss of dignity, independence, and financial security. These are people I look up to, seeing this is heart breaking. The job titles and annual salaries seem less significant to them than doing things that made them happy with the people that made them happy. It has me reflecting on what matters the most to me and what I consider successful, which in turn, helps me compare less. As long as I’m pushing to be better, I’m good where I am (though I tend to be overly critical of myself, so there’s still that- lol).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve thought about this a lot over the last few years. I think in my mind there are three things. 1: Where I think I’m supposed to be; 2. Where I want to be; 3. Where I actually am. And if where I am isn’t also the answer to #1 or #2 then it can be easy to compare my progress with others. I try to block out what other people are doing as much as possible because even if I feel happy for them, I know it’ll just make me think something’s wrong with me.

    Also, I don’t know you in real life but from my outside perspective you look like you know what you’re doing and are sure of yourself, even if its being certain of uncertainty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think we’re on the same page. What ends up making things worse for me is thinking I need to be in a certain place in my life, because someone else is in a different place. I’m still young, and I feel like you have to have your life together by 25 or else. But you don’t know who else is comparing their lives to yours. I think we have to be happy and know that we’re doing good for the world.

      Thanks, that means a lot. I think that getting the job I have now and being back where I went to school has made me feel better about myself and what I’m capable of doing. I feel valued at this job, and I’m already passionate about the university, so that helps, too, because I want the school to succeed.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Trust me, once you turn 25, 26, 27… your mindset will change and you’ll say to yourself, “Alright, I have until I’m 30.” I think people view us differently than we view ourselves. Many years ago when I was clueless at a job, one guy told me he thought I was a real adult and had been working there for years, when really I had only been there two weeks.

        Liked by 1 person

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