If you haven't been watching the news or reading the papers as of late, allow me to be the bearer of bad news. Over the last 12 months, a new rapidly mutating virus has been infecting the lives of 20-somethings across the globe causing a variety of dangerous symptoms, such as nausea, delusions, and paranoia. The United Kingdom has declared a national emergency, and twenty-somethings all over the world have been detained for fear of further transmitting the disease to non-infected civilians**. It's name? Comparisonitis.

According to the internet's most credible source, Urban Dictionary, Comparisonitis can be described as the internal compulsion to constantly compare one's achievements and accomplishments with others in the hope of building our own self-worth. It feeds on the self-esteem of young millennials, instilling feelings of inadequacy in our own achievements. Those we compare ourselves to can vary from being our own peers or siblings, to random celebrities and influencers, and with the rise of social media use, Comparisonitis has only worsened and become more dangerous. 

Sarcasm aside, I am a victim of Comparisonitis, and I can confidently say that although it does drive me to push myself beyond my limits and keep me motivated, it can also be incredibly exhausting because I never feel fulfilled with my current state. For example, I have competed in two world championships, I've spent multiple months travelling around overseas, I am currently completing a degree in Psychology, and I don't do nangs. In other words, I have ticked off the four common prerequisites when it comes to measuring humble success as a twenty-something-year-old. But somehow, it's still not enough. Each time I chase after a goal and reach it, instead of kicking my feet up and giving myself a good pat on the back, I remember that somewhere out there is a six-year-old kid from China that already did it.

Social media allows millennials like myself to take a peek inside the lives of others. The problem with this, however, is that people often project the best version of themselves. The world champion medals, the celebratory drinks after the promotion, the graduation gowns, the new family house - we are constantly flooded with an abundance of images of people ticking off life goals and achieving amazing things because that’s the part that they want us to see. However, what we're looking at is the end product. We don't frequently scroll past pictures and videos of people after a 9-hour shift or mid-emotional breakdown because they're exhausted from training. All we see is the finish line. So what do we do? We compare ourselves to these other millennials and wonder why we're so far behind everyone else. And suddenly, all the cool stuff that we’re doing doesn’t seem to matter much because someone else is doing more. And we drive ourselves crazy. 

And I often can't help but wonder,
what will I need to achieve to feel fulfilled? 

And the answer is simple: nothing.
Ultimately, nothing I specifically accomplish will make me feel fulfilled, because life isn't a big bucket list. Fulfilment doesn't come from ticking off achievements and beating everybody else along the way. Life, especially your twenties, is about the parts in between. It's about having new experiences, forging your own path, making a couple of mistakes and developing into the person you’re meant to be. We can't do and be everything right out of high school because
 it simply isn't possible and it's not how life works. And though I try my hardest to refrain from quoting the Hannah Montana movie, Miley was right. It really IS the climb. Without it, the good parts wouldn’t seem as good. So when chasing after a goal, allow yourself to get your hands dirty. Sweat, cry, grind and hustle. Once you get there, acknowledge the achievement, and then take a photo, post it, and let some other insecure twenty-something-year-old compare themselves to your seemingly instant success. 

So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy compared to the rest of the world, take a break from social media and remind yourself that everyone is following their own path at their own speed. And just remember, as long as you’re not doing nangs, you’re already one step ahead of the game. 

            - Loz 

** This was written before COVID. Seriously, what are the odds?

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