Tuesday, October 6, 2015

You're doing better than you think

Upworthy recently published a video and short write-up on a social experiment in which people were asked one question -- "Do you think you're successful?"  Loved ones of these people were then asked how they viewed the success of those individuals.  The difference of opinion was eye-opening.

Why do we see ourselves so much differently than others see us?

I've mentioned a few times in the last week that I recently went through a bout of increased insecurity and self-doubt. It happens on occasion, mostly when I start comparing my life with that of others or even just with where I thought I would be by now.

I'm 35. If you'd asked me 15 years ago what my life would be like at this age, I would likely have said I'd be advancing in my journalism/writing career and married with a few kids in a house in the suburbs.

Pretty standard plan, right?  There are lots of people out there living this.

But my reality is that I'm working a full-time job in the insurance industry and two part-time jobs in a library and a brewery.  I'm living in a 600-square-foot, one bedroom apartment.  I'm not even close to being married. I can't get beyond a date or two with a guy.  And my only dependents have four legs and fur.

If I had to rate my success on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd probably put myself at a 5. Or maybe a 6 on a good day.

There are times I look at my life and feel like a complete failure.  I'm not using my degree, and I wouldn't call my professional life any sort of success.  The romantic/family arena of my life is even worse. I don't even think calling it a failure is a strong enough word.

The other day, a friend posted this on my Facebook wall:

The comment came from out of the blue, and I was speechless.

I'm an inspiration?  How could she say that much less believe it?

Another friend recently told me that I inspire her as well, that she looks up to me for all I've accomplished.

How can that be when I don't feel like I've accomplished anything?

It's so easy to get caught up in the comparison game -- whether it's to others or to the picture in our heads of how it should be.  I think it skews our vision as we look in the mirror and at our own life.  Those who love us have a different perspective, and maybe it's one we should listen to more often. I know I'm going to try.


  1. I love this post, Micah.
    We often have such high standards set for ourselves, and we get so disappointed if we fall short of them.
    Others just see you living, and enjoying life. Having fun. Being YOU. And that's inspirational in itself.
    Goals are great, but they just that, "goals". And if you don't meet all of them, keep at 'em, but never stop being true to yourself. Glad that your friend was able to help you see a different side :)

  2. I don't compare myself to others too much, more comparison to expectations of self. I think we're always harder on ourselves than others are. We could learn to appreciate what we are doing more.

  3. I frequently tell Chris that I wish he could see himself the way I see him. And I think this is true for most people. I wish others could see themselves the way I do, because they would be shocked, I think, at how awesome they really are. The problem is that it is so much easier to recognize our flaws than our good traits because we are trained to see those things and to constantly be working on improving ourselves.

    I think you are awesome.

  4. I had one of these moments this past summer. While I was wallowing that I was a failure in my mind because I was three years out of university and hadn't landed a full time job in my career field, am constantly single, etc. I felt like I had nothing to contribute to conversations when my counterparts where all being so successful and moving forward. I was absolutely dreading a wedding of a close college friend because it would be the first time we were all together since graduation. I almost didn't go. Then I find out everyone is raving about how my life is so neat and I just look like I'm having an awesome time going on adventures and making my dreams come true. These people who I wanted to be in their place for certain reasons, wanted to be in my place for their own reason. I was jaw on the floor shocked. Since then I've really tried to remind myself that we ourselves are often more critical than how others perceive us and we should really cut ourselves some slack from time to time. Look at the positives we have conquered.


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