The comparison trap

I’m a thinker, worrier, overanalyser.

English: School Running Race

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Over a year ago, I reminded myself that life is not a race.

But can I stop comparing myself to others? Hell no.

I pat myself on the back when I look at people around me having unwanted children, taking too long to finish their degree, and generally not having their shit together. (Yeah, I said it. I’m not going to pretend I don’t make judgement calls.)

And then I swallow my envy when others more than double their salary to nearly six figures a year after graduation, spend all their savings on travel, find rich and handsome partners, buy houses by 25.

I trek the path of full personal independence – partly by circumstance, partly by choice.

I chose noncorporate work that I love and am good at, even if it will never make me rich. I make enough, and a job I enjoy is worth infinitely more than a lucrative one that would stress me out.

I found a partner who would do anything for me, even if he doesn’t have a life plan all worked out.

My life is largely what I make of it. Every decision has an opportunity cost. Suck it up, E.

10 thoughts on “The comparison trap

  • Reply tinysarah January 10, 2012 at 13:46

    Wise words! For me this manifests as the struggle between contentment and wanting to continually push myself to new limits…

  • Reply krantcents January 10, 2012 at 13:59

    If you are doing something you love, you will be good at it and ultimately the money comes. At the very least, you achieve happiness and self fulfillment.

  • Reply centsofacountrygirl January 10, 2012 at 15:32

    Very true. It’s hard not to compare yourself to others, but sometimes it helps to put things in perspective.

  • Reply newlyweds on a budget January 10, 2012 at 19:19

    man it’s hard huh? eric and i are still living in a shack and he’s going to be 29 this month. this is not how i pictured my life at this age. but i know we’re building ourselves up, it’s just taking ourselves a little bit longer…

    hang in there.

  • Reply Kara January 10, 2012 at 19:22

    I also believe that life is what you make of it. My husband and I worked and saved ur asses off to be able to buy our houses. It’s something that we wanted to do, so we had to set other things asise. Do I get jealous of people who do nothing but travel and have fun? Sometimes, but if I set my investments up now I’ll have the rest of my life to enjoy it.

    I like getting things done and out of the way asap!

  • Reply Liquid Independence January 10, 2012 at 20:42

    “Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.”

  • Reply FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com January 11, 2012 at 04:40

    I love this post. You made your choices for the reasons you make them for.

    Perhaps traveling all the time is not what it was cracked up to be (see my latest post: Traveling year round may not be as fun

    Perhaps all that money people make, comes with a lot of headaches that you wouldn’t want to deal with.

    Everything has a benefit and a cost.

  • Reply Two Degrees January 11, 2012 at 09:06


    I feel you.

  • Reply My money, my life January 12, 2012 at 03:53

    yepp i know what you mean, and we all do it. I think comparison with others is human. It’s also necessary, so that we can keep an ongoing check on how we are doing. as long as it doesn’t become an unhealthy obsession i think competition is fine.

    I have friends that are doing better than me, who inspire me to try harder after the initial bout of envy fades away, then I have friends who need to validate their success by flaunting it in others’ faces. The former is healthy competition and I welcome it, the latter kind is unhealthy, and something I’m actively working on cutting out of my life.

  • Reply Just One Boomer (Suzanne) April 1, 2013 at 17:53

    You just brought on a major flashback for me. It was 1984. I had just turned 30 and I had a 3 month old baby who was completely day-night reversed. I was a licensed attorney, but it was all I could do to have washed the breakfast dishes by the time my husband got home from work. I remember wailing on the phone to my mother, “What is going to become of me?” Her response which I utterly didn’t appreciate at the time was, “It will all work out.” Damned if she wasn’t right. It hasn’t been a straight trajectory, but I managed to start my own law firm, we bought and sold two houses, we raised two sons and got them through university and launched them out into the world and now I’m a semi-retired lawyer/travel blogger/trailing spouse. I love my husband more than when I married him. I have gray hairs and some aching joints, but I actually feel like I acquired some wisdom along the way. So, now I’m going to say something you will totally not appreciate, “It will all work out.” From what I can tell, you’re basically a very solid person. If everything and everybody else disappeared, you would still have yourself and the world would keep spinning on its axis. (I’m still an anxious insomniacal maniac sometimes, but I’ve learned to cut myself some slack). Peace. Out.

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