When I was in grad school, I used to feel weak for struggling with all the hats I was wearing. I would compare myself to my cohorts who appeared to be managing a whole lot better than me. I remember being in my head, doubting whether or not I was cut out to be a graduate student. I would say things like, “Something must be wrong with me because “blank” seems to be doing okay (as I was unraveling at a fast rate).” Towards the end of my program, I was crying enough to fill the Nile. I was exhausted and burnt out. My comparison game was strong, and it was breaking me.
If there is one thing I learned through that phase of life, it’s this: Comparison and assumption will make you miserable. The turmoil I put myself through thinking I was the only one who struggled juggling life through grad school is insane! The reality was we were all struggling, but no one was talking about it. Have you heard the duck metaphor? It goes like this, ducks are seemingly calm on the surface, but paddling furiously to stay afloat. We were all paddling our hearts out to stay afloat, the only difference was, I was more open about my struggle than some.
The moral of the story is this, just because someone presents as if they have their life together, doesn’t mean they do. They might be better at staying calm above the surface than you, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Be mindful of your self-talk when you compare yourself to others. Just because a relationship presents as perfect doesn’t mean there isn’t chaos behind closed doors. Because a mom presents as the world’s best Pinterest mom, doesn’t mean she doesn’t cry alone at night with a bottle of wine.
When you compare yourself, you begin to question your abilities, life, and roles. You doubt yourself, and the negative self-talk leads you down a rabbit hole. I am here to tell you we are all paddling like hell to stay afloat.
Let’s create a conversation and work towards normalizing life struggles.