Life isn’t a game that can be won or lost on the basis of some arbitrary social markers.

More than that, you can’t ‘succeed’ in life by living your life on someone else’s terms. Or indeed, by living someone else’s life.

Simply doing what you think you ought to be doing won’t always bring you satisfaction, in fact it will rarely coincide with things that you yourself actually prioritise. Because of this, you will soon realise that the things around you that are offering the illusion of ‘self care’ and ‘self improvement’ are causing you undue stress.

This is because the pressure that you put on yourself to achieve them isn’t proportional or tempered by your emotional investment.

As such, you are pushing yourself to do things that simply aren’t worth your time, or are worthwhile endeavours in principle, just not necessarily for you, personally. Recognise something here?

It can be hard to step back and recognise the aspects of life that we have acclimatised to aren’t always things that we deserve to experience. We are often faced with the startling discovery that there is more to life than we know in our current experiences. There are pancake houses that we didn’t know existed. Friends that live around the corner who we never realised lived so close. Even going to the park in the afternoon on a dog walking day and seeing so many Chihuahuas that you thought you might die of cuteness. 

But to bring you back to my line of argument at present. Life isn’t a competition. Repeat that to yourself. Say it aloud – it hits different.

Now, say it and actually mean it.

Know that, even though it feels like it, no one else is as hyper aware or vigilant about what you’re doing. We overanalyse ourselves and keep tabs on everything and always make sure that we punish ourselves if we are embarrassed or make a mistake. The truth is that not as many people are listening as we think there are.

A lot of the voices were hear saying negative things about us are coming from our own heads. And we all know the old adage that ‘if you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, you shouldn’t say it to yourself’. The message is of course that we will always know ourselves better, and know what we need and what it really is that we want. We should be our best friend, because only we truly have our own interests at heart. 

Sometimes we live vicariously through our friends’ lives.

Or we gratuitously watch them make mistakes from the side lines and feel bad about it because we know we would never make ourselves vulnerable like that. Then we feel guilty for comparing each other. For holding each other up to the same standards, even though we’re all unique. We all have different things going on and different standards for ourselves, we can’t account for what other people are doing too.

It’s just too much. I know there is a habit or tendency to compare ourselves. That’s what peer pressure is. It’s not a teen druggie offering you weed in the school toilets. It’s the implicit stress and understanding that everyone needs to be doing this one particular activity. And that people who don’t, are on the outside. Not included. 

We all have that one friend that is too successful for her own good.

You know the type, there’s always one in a friendship group. They have the best job, the most ambitious career prospects, the strongest relationship and the most interesting hobbies. They give the illusion of effortlessness, but I have some news for you. 

It’s not. 

The privilege of effortlessness is wrought from pain and suffering and stress and anxiety just as much as on your end. Just because people put up facades and seem to be able to bear life easier, doesn’t mean that you should believe them. Nothing worth having was ever easy, and in fact life isn’t easy. It shouldn’t be, and if it was, the rewards we reap wouldn’t be worth it.

Therefore, when you see a person glide down the street, don’t just sit and stew and hate from a distance.

We get too embittered and it creates a toxic mental atmosphere inside your own head. You corrupt your own attitude by fostering this social attitude of competition, rather than cohabitation. Social and economic functions seem to insist on competition between individuals rather than encouraging everyone to work together. You have to make sure your numbers are up at work to push for the promotion, to make sure you feel comfortable and secure in your place of work.

Furthermore, this competition has fed into everyday life, with things like social media, how cultured you are, how fit and healthy you are. Rather than being self care or ways to look after yourself, they have transpired into things which are now industries which exist to regulate us, to keep us in place. Life can become a numbers game, but you can’t live happily in that environment.

Instagram can be a great and wholesome thing, as long as your feed isn’t cluttered with nameless celebrities and influencers that you don’t really care about but feel obliged to keep around anyway. This just clogs up your headspace and risks you forgetting what you came to Instagram for in the first place – cute pictures of your friends and assorted dogs and memes. 

Life changes at the moment you realise that your life is yours to live.

No one else will do it for you, or do the things that you will want to achieve. So what’s stopping you? Failure?

Lesson time I think! Another thing we have to relearn about the way society functions is the presumption that failure is the opposite of success. How can it be? It’s merely the first step, the initial attempt. A ‘what not to do’ on the journey of how to achieve something. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, being bad at something.

You have to be able to look your mistakes in the eye and see what actions need taking. Ignoring your problems is about as effective a means of dealing with them as waiting for paint to dry by wiping it away. It’s extremely counterintuitive. Don’t let failure stand in the way of doing the things you want to do. 

Everyone is insecure, and no one feels like they are winning at life.

Well, quite simply that’s because no one can actually ‘win’. Not in the epiphany-way that you think it will feel when you achieve your goals. instead, you will just get some steel in your eye and realise that you are climbing your own mountain.

The fact that other people also have mountains to climb is besides the point.

It shouldn’t impact or reroute your journey to the top, wherever that may be.