Monday, October 12, 2015

To (Not) Compare

I struggled with my self-efficacy during my time in the UK. I questioned myself a lot, and I compared myself with plenty of my vocal, ambitious, native-speaker classmates; and found that I was not even close with them. 

Then I got home, and I saw a lot of people see myself in such a different perspective. That I am, according to them, bright and ambitious. "I am not that bright, trust me," I told them. "I would have performed better if I were. I am just a speck of dust compared to my classmates, and I know I could have done better if I tried harder." 

A few days ago, I need to go somewhere during rush hour, and I chose to take the train (because I'd rather be jammed on a train than got caught in a traffic jam). I know taking a train during peak hours in Jakarta is not a very pleasant thing to do, but it taught me something. I suddenly felt grateful because I realised that I am possibly more privileged, lucky, and educated than 90% people I met on the overcrowded train. I have a choice to take a cab or anything else if I want to, a choice that a lot of people don't have. I don't even need to commute every day - and as I find the commuting experience exhausting and bad for subjective well-being, I am utterly grateful. 

And I knew right away that it's unfair to me to always compare myself with people who are above me. It's unfair if I always compare myself with people I aspire to be. Sure, it's going to make me feel like I need to improve myself - and that's a good thing - but sometimes I really need to look back (and down) in order to remind myself to be grateful and proud of what I have done and become. Even my neck would get hurt if I looked up perpetually.

Said Theodore Rosevelt (source)


Apparently, I need to constantly remind myself to be grateful and to slow down a little bit. I have been running my whole life, and now it's okay if I want to walk a little. I decided to keep running until now (as Allah still supports me to), but I need to know that I really don't have to. I will never be satisfied if I always ask myself "what's next?".

Apparently, I need to remind myself again that every person in their twenties has problems and insecurities, and it is, in fact, the new normal. Adult life won't be easy, and this is just the beginning. 


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