As freelancers, we’re always looking for new ways to benchmark success. Whether it’s landing that dream client, learning a new skill, or earning a certain income, having goals to work towards is healthy and necessary for a successful business.
But, because we’re out here forging our own path, it can be easy to fall into the trap of using false measurements. In today’s social media age, this usually comes in the form of comparing ourselves to our peers.
So, you’re scrolling through Facebook and there’s your rival, with her adventurous profile picture and her exciting humble-brag status updates. Not only is she living the best life ever, but she’s also always adding to an ever-increasing list of achievements.
All of a sudden, you’re a gawky teenager again. That gnawing, unhappy feeling of being not-good-enough is back in full force.
It’s easy to feel insecurity in the light of others’ successes, and in an age of constant online socialization, it’s even easier to feel like everybody else BUT you is thriving. Everybody seems to be landing freelance gigs, smiling with loved ones, engaging in impressive-but-fun workouts, earning plaudits. You, on the other hand, just accidentally dropped your toothbrush in the toilet… for the second time this month.
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This uncomfortable feeling of comparison and insufficiency happens to the best of us. When you’re caught up in comparisons, take a deep breath. Step away from your social media platforms. Remind yourself that you’re not in high school anymore. Somebody else’s success does not take away from your accomplishments and achievements. There are no homecoming courts – and as long as you’re working towards growth, you ARE SUCCEEDING… even if you feel like you’re in an awkward phase.
Everybody feels insecure and insufficient sometimes. Social media often captures only the best and brightest aspects of our lives, while obscuring the darkness, missteps, and self-doubt (I bet you haven’t posted a picture of that toothbrush floating in the toilet, right?).
Even those achievers have terrible days, too, and are just as riddled with insecurity and self-doubt as any of us other mortals. They probably look at your carefully-curated social media presence and think despairingly of your successes and adventures.
When you’re tempted to get over-focused on others’ achievements (and get down on your own work), focus on your path. What can you do to progress, to work towards happiness? What work is to be done? Resist making comparisons.
If you can channel all of that uncomfortable, uneasy energy into your own projects and passions, you may find that in a few years you’ll forget all about your current rivals. They’ll fade into pleasant memories, just like all of their predecessors.
Kate Shea lives and works in New York City, where she consumes an inordinate amount of Sriracha daily. You can catch up with her on Twitter at @katerone.