During my last long run I was listening to an audio book and the author was talking about how we compare ourselves so harshly to others. Especially females. Yet as we are sitting there wishing we were like someone else, they are sitting there wishing they were like us.
That friend of yours that you wish you had their life because they are happily married with kids, is secretly wishing they had your life because you’re successful in your career. That colleague of yours that you get jealous of because they are skinnier than you, is secretly wishing she didn’t have to go to the gym so much and had more free time on her hands like you. That family friend that you wish you could be more extroverted like her, is secretly wishing she could be more introverted like you.
It made me realise that lately I have been thinking about my age and where I thought I’d be in my life by now. I thought I would have found ‘the one’ by now. I thought I’d be in a career I love and that I’m advancing in. I thought I’d be living in a home that I have purchased. I thought I’d have more money in the bank. I thought I would have travelled more. I thought I would feel successful. I thought I would feel in control of my life. Basically I’ve always held certain expectations of how my life should look, and it’s definitely not meeting those expectations.
I kept focusing on what I feel I haven’t achieved and I stopped and thought, hang on a minute, what have I managed to achieve already? My first thought, lots actually. I joined the Military at 18 and served nearly 6 years. In that time I did overseas deployments and received 2 medals and a Commendation. I’m raising a beautiful little girl who is compassionate and funny and kind. I’ve completed a half marathon after battling depression and severe anxiety that was causing panic attacks and I’m training to complete a second one. I bought my first home by myself at 25 years old. I’ve endured significant traumas including being first responder to a young man that had been hit by a train and killed, had the shit beaten out of me while protecting an elderly man, had 3 miscarriages; and through all that I’ve managed to find a way to keep moving forward. I’ve started this blog and my readers are increasing each week. I’ve travelled to 8 different countries. I raised $2500 and shaved my head for cancer research. I cooked for and met George Bush and how wife. There is obviously so much more and it made me realise I really have done a lot in 35 years.
So many achievements yet I regularly focus on what I don’t have yet and where I thought I’d be by now. I focus on what others have achieved and wish I had done that too. I feel like as humans we always get distracted by what we want instead of being grateful for what we have and being proud of what we have achieved.
I also realised that I’ve had so many comments since starting this journey from people saying they wish they had my strength. They wish they had my motivation to train like I do. They wish they were brave enough to share their stories like I do. They wish they could stand up and ask for help when they are struggling, like I have. So much amazing feedback and so many people reaching out with compliments, yet I feel discouraged that I haven’t achieved what I perceived my life should look like.
I was in a pretty shitty headspace after thinking all of this as I felt disappointed in myself and also because my knees and hip were aching and I was hating on my body for not being like it was 6 years ago when I was training for my last half marathon. I was whining to myself thinking why can’t my joints work better, why can’t this be easier, why me??? To be blunt I was being a sook! Totally feeling sorry for myself….then I looked up and saw a man in a wheelchair.
This was one of those life changing moments where you feel that life actually slows down around you. The synchronicity of this event literally felt like a slap in the face. I felt so incredibly selfish and guilty. And to say I got a dose of reality is an understatement. Here I am complaining about pain in my legs, when this man has no feeling at all in his. He would probably give anything to feel the pain I’m going through so that he had the ability to run again. To even walk again.
It really was a massive reality check and made me realise just how much I take the simple things for granted because I’m chasing this expectation of a certain type of life that I created in my head. I put so much pressure on myself to be this certain type of person when at the end of the day, I have achieved a huge amount in my life already and have been fighting the biggest battle the last 6 months just to get through each day, yet am still managing to take tiny steps forward.
It made me think even deeper to the fact that I really am wishing my life away in hope of being like others. Wishing I was settled down with ‘the one’ like so many of my friends. Wishing I had progressed further in my career. Wishing I was more in control of my life and felt more settled. I’ve even been thinking lately about what I can do after running the half marathon. Because somewhere in my mind it’s apparently not enough to train solidly for a year and achieve something that many others wish they could do….in my mind I still need to achieve more.
It blows my mind that I still expect so much of myself and can’t seem to celebrate what I have achieved.
If someone had of said to me a year ago that I’d be single, fighting to see my daughter, moving to Brisbane, seeing a Therapist, that I wouldn’t have another baby, I’d be writing this blog and inspiring so many people or that I’d be training my ass off every day….I would have literally slapped them and told them to wake up to themselves.
My life wasn’t meant to be like this. I was meant to be with my partner who I loved for 6 years and had fought so hard to get back to the Gold Coast to spend more time with. I was meant to be with my little family and seeing my daughter every day and being like that for the rest of my life. I was meant to have given her a sibling by now and back to diapers and sleepless nights. I was meant to spending the rest of my life in that little bubble that I always wanted.
The thing is even when I was in that bubble where I had my little family I always wanted, I didn’t feel settled. I always felt like I wasn’t enough. Like I was a bad partner and bad mother because my shift work stopped me from attending so many family events, even though it provided us with a beautiful lifestyle. I felt like it wasn’t enough because we didn’t have our own home yet, even though I was busting my ass working 16 hour days to get us ahead. And for the last 18 months I felt like I’d failed my partner and my daughter because I couldn’t carry our babies to full term. I kept ruining the life that we dreamed of. I kept adding extra stress by continuing IVF and fighting for one more go.
Even back then when I had everything I wanted, I was still wishing my life away. Pushing myself for more. Expecting more of myself.
After that slap in the face of seeing someone in a wheelchair,while sooking about having sore legs and realising how much I take for granted and spend so much time wishing my life was different; I’m taking the approach that if my life was really meant to be how I’d expected it to be, it would have happened that way. As harsh as that reality is, it’s true. It obviously wasn’t meant to be the way I had envisioned it. My life as it is right now, is how it’s meant to be. And after the roller coaster of this journey the last 6 months, if you told me that in a years’ time I will have found someone that loves me just as I am, and have 3 dogs and I’m working as a Social Worker….. I’d sit here and go OK, if that’s how my life is meant to be, then that’s what I accept.
I’m no longer going to expect my life to head in any direction. I’m no longer going to waste time wishing it was different or wishing I had achieved more. My only focus is to be proud of what I have achieved and to relish in the joy of my accomplishments. I’m obviously still going to set goals around things I want to achieve, but I’m going to enjoy each step of those goals and celebrate properly when I achieve them, not go racing onto the next one.
Time to stop and smell the roses and enjoy my life rather than battling to make it different because of a preconceived idea I created in my mind!