Up until college, my friends and I were all on the same page — it was hard not to be. We were all on a similar life plan: finish school, find a place to live, get a job. But shortly after that phase of school-mandated life, we scattered. We all spun out in different directions and started to build lives that didn't look identical.
As a result of that, our lifestyles become different, too. A lot of my friends got jobs right out of school and started working up the corporate world and putting down roots in the city they live in. For me, it wasn't that easy. It took me a much longer time to find a job that was right for me and by the time I found my entry-level job, I had friends who were working their way up to executives. Just as I was able to rent my first apartment, my friends were thinking about buying their first home. It was hard to see my different path and not think: failure.
It was hard not to compare my life to theirs — after growing up in tandem, I couldn't help but feel behind. Everyone was so much farther ahead and settled than I was and it felt lonely on the other end. I spent so much time trying to catch up that I failed to look around and see how much I had accomplished in the same amount of time. Not all steps are linear. Not all plans go in the same directions. In time, we all level out and realize that certain accomplishments are subjective. Which is exactly why you should never be down on yourself for where you are in life. Here are nine reasons why it's OK to be financially and professionally behind your friends:
Your Needs Are Your Own
What makes sense for your friends doesn't necessarily make sense for you. You have your own set of financial needs and your own slew of professional goals. Your path is your own and only you can judge how well you're blazing it.
No One's Comparing But You
You might feel like the comparisons are obvious, but chances are your friends are not comparing your path to theirs. It's because you're insecure about where you stand that you feel the need to line your life up to others. But your real friends aren't looking down on you.
Worrying About It Is A Waste Of Energy
Don't expend energy on negativity. If you have energy to burn, use it to build yourself up. Don't spend time worrying about what other people think and what other people are doing.
Real Friends Embrace You
If your friends are truly as pure as you believe them to be, they're proud of you for where you are. They're not waiting for you to catch up, they're respectful of your path and don't want you to feel behind. They want you to be proud of yourself for exactly what you're doing.
Quality Over Speed
It's better to take your time putting together a solid and long-lasting system for yourself than it is to rush. Take your time saving money, building credit, working up the experience for raises. In the long run, your finances will be sturdy. And professionally, you're better going slow and steady than racing to the top. There's always time to move up.
You'll Catch Up
Sometimes our paths are just staggered and that's natural. Eventually, you and all of your friends will either be on the same page again, or you'll realize that being on the same level is subjective.
The Bigger Picture Is So Much More Than Where You Are Right Now
Look at the bigger picture: everything that you're fretting about now will be such a small detail. The worries over your finances and your professional life will just be a small blip. You're going to accomplish so much in your life.
Focus On The Positive
Instead of thinking about all the things you don't have, give yourself a pat on the back for the things you have accomplished. When you stop comparing yourself to others, you'll start to realize that you're pretty special, too.
Appreciate The Experience
Everything that you've gone through to get where you are has helped to shape you into the wonderful and unique person that you are. Your path is different than your friends' paths, which makes you special and makes your journey special. Don't take away from the worth of your life by treating it as any less than that.