It's Okay To Feel That You're Behind In Life Compared To Everyone Else

Remember that the only competition is yourself.

woman smiling in foliage Andrey Arkusha / Shutterstock

By Laura Herndon

Your best friend just got married. Your sister just bought a new house. And your significant other is climbing the corporate ladder. But here you are, 30 years old and still in the throes of wanderlust.

No need to fret, my friend: I have been there and still am, sometimes, if I’m honest.

“At my age, I should be farther along in life!”

I’ve heard this before because I’ve also said this before. We were told to finish high school with good grades, go to a four-year college since that would catapult us to success. Except it didn’t. It simply gave us anxiety disorders and student loan debt.


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So, your bestie just tied the knot. That might make your single status feel like you’re behind. Your sister’s new house is gorgeous, while you’re still paying exorbitant rent for a studio apartment you share with roommates. Your boyfriend just made partner in his firm while you’re still folding clothes at The Gap.

Social media makes it worse. We see our friends’ and family’s success and feel, dare we say it... jealous?

Shakespeare once said, “Nothing is so common as the wish to be remarkable.”

How often do we sit in silence, wishing we were something more? How many times have we compared our successes to those around us? And how many times has that dark shadow known as envy hung over our heads like a rain cloud?


The wish to be noticed and acknowledged is human. You, too, are only human. I, too, am only human.

But we have to sit with our thoughts and ask ourselves why we are envious. Jealousy is an uncouth fashion victim crowding the party in your mind.

With ostentatious and garish in her appearance, jealousy demands to be the only emotion sitting at the table. Uninvited to our party, and even if she were, she’d never RSVP.

What should you do with an unwanted visitor? You can ask for them to leave nicely, which I promise hardly ever works. So I choose to kick my jealousy out.

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I don’t like how it makes me feel, and I don’t like to look into its overly made-up eyes that remind me of a party girl who left her makeup on overnight. Nay, nay, we cannot oblige such a rude guest.

Find the root cause of your jealousy. What makes the green eyes of envy appear in the air like the Cheshire Cat but with much less charm? Is something missing in your life? Do you lack control? Is someone doing what you want to do?

Let’s have a conversation, my lovely.

Take it from someone who’s been in your fabulous red-soled shoes: Jealousy and envy are not our friends. They make for terrible companions.

Find what makes your soul alight with passion and do that thing! Celebrate the successes of your co-workers, peers, friends, and family. Delight in their achievements.


Because your time is right around the corner, if only you dare to shed an ordinary skin for an extraordinary one.

In our society, we measure accomplishments by external markers. It’s time we measured our own successes.

Remember that the only competition is yourself. After all, I am an incredibly late bloomer. I didn’t get my license until I was 25 or come out of the closet until 29. I also didn’t get my college degree until I was 34.

Those are my personal successes, and I’m proud of the progress I’ve made. That begs the question, what are you proud of? What sets your passion on fire?


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Anna Laura Herndon is a writer, advocate, and creator of Rants of a Virgo, an essay site. She writes about love, relationships, LGBTQ+ issues, and current events.