Thought Journal: It's All Relative

by - 18:23

"It could be worse!" "At least it's not _______" "Just think of _______ !"

I'm sure we could all recall endless times that we've been subject to hearing and sometimes even speaking phrases such as those above. They're intended to put things into perspective and try to cheer up a person: to make them feel that their situation is not so bad and suggest they should be glad that it isn't worse. Sometimes they do have the desired effect but unless the person saying those kind of things is very much in tune with the one they're saying it to, they usually have no effect other than to potentially make you resent the person who is trying (and failing) to uplift you!

However, the point that I wanted to focus on in this post is something more subtle and potentially causing stress in the lives of people who aren't particularly overreacting or needlessly stressed about something tangible but perhaps needs to remold their perspective into one that is kinder on them. It's something I'm currently working on and what it essentially boils down to is the issue of what I've come to call 'Life Shaming'. Things that seem to endorse this type of negative behaviour are posts on social media (largely on Tumblr and Facebook) that suggest that you are only truly accomplished as a person if you've ticked particular boxes on the checklist of modern day successes. Travelling the world, living in a 'Pinterest worthy' apartment, eating 'Instagram-able' food and working a job that is both desirable in its duties as well as being able to fund the aforementioned points are all things that appear on this metaphorical list.
Now, I am not suggesting that any of these things are not worthy of praise, appreciation and a good feeling on behalf of the person that has achieved them. What I have a problem with is the suggestion that these matters (and these, among others, are ones that crop up most on social media) are all that count towards making someone feel accomplished and proud of themselves. Social media is a great way of documenting and sharing your achievements and being to able to express yourself in this way has definitely helped feelings of self worth and self love to grow. Nonetheless, this type of behaviour can quickly become egotistical and snooty when those who are succeeding in the areas that a lot of people try to attain (areas such as physical fitness, financial stability, job satisfaction) can often take on a sense of superiority and empowerment. This inevitably leads to my aforementioned point of life shaming.

I'm sure this inclination to look down on those who haven't quite attained the same successes as yourself and feel insecure as the person looking up at those who have achieved more than you is born from the competitive society that we live in. But it's not a competition. Nobody has earned any extra 'gold stars' for achieving something that you don't want or haven't quite succeeded in just yet. If it's important to you then that's all that matters and nobody should actively or passively try to make you feel like it is anything less than wonderful that you are succeeding in what you have been working at. People are always going through their own personal battles; achievements and breakthroughs should be focused on and celebrated if they are important to that person.

What may be a small step for one person could be a mountain for another. What one person loves may be another's worst nightmare. Overcoming issues with my own mental health and trying hard to just scrape a pass in a uni course that has completely disheartened and uninspired me have been challenges of mine for the past few years. So for somebody to suggest to me - as has happened multiple times - that I should do X, Y and Z because they are 'good' things to do and question me if I say that they are things I'm not interested in is extremely insensitive and ignorant. There's no greater feeling than doing what you love and feeling proud of your own successes and if for me that means getting myself out of a killer bad mood or getting a 2:2 in my essay instead of a fail then that's what I should celebrate.

For some people, living a life that consists of doing/eating/wearing things that are very much aesthetically pleasing is an achievement. For other people, it's seeing as much of the world as they can and trying to experience different cultures and ways of life. Other people aim to have solid fundamentals in their life like living in a nice home, cooking good food and spending time with their family. Other people work to attain a level of emotional or physical consistency, or at least battle to continue living their lives in spite of a mental or physical health problem. Every one of these goals is praise worthy and deserves recognition of the work, time and energy that that person has invested in it. 

It is nobody's place to judge or belittle the achievements of another and this brings me back to the title of this post: it's all relative. It honestly is. It is impossible to measure the 'success' of an achievement because if it's important to one person then that's all that really matters. Feel good in what you're doing, give yourself some self-love and acknowledgement of the successes you've had in your life. It doesn't matter if it's something like you getting out of bed, showering, dressing and feeding yourself today or if it's more along the lines of you working super hard at your job and earning yourself a promotion. Both can be a challenge and both should be supported during their progression. 

This issue is something I've struggled with but I am starting to overcome it and the points I've mentioned in this post are ones that have helped me to do so. This is, of course, my personal opinion and experience of this matter but I would love to hear any thoughts that you may have on the same issues! I'm back to uni tomorrow to start the last semester of my final year (eek!) and I'm dreading it. We've been forewarned about how intense and challenging this final two-part project will be and I know there's gonna be some tough times ahead. The finish line is in sight though so I'm hoping I'll find the energy to push through! 

Stay inspired,

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  1. i love this post. its so honest and such a breath of fresh air to read. id love it if youd comment back xx