When you are in school, it is almost impossible not to live by comparison. It doesn’t matter how much you are supposed to compete with yourself not your classmates, or if an A is dressed up as an “excellent”. An A isn’t an A if someone doesn’t have a B, or even an F. It’s how educators extrinsically motivate students. There is more you can compare, how many friends you have, what activities you participate in, if you are in a relationship.
It’s funny that in this time of hyper comparison, you and your peers are living essentially the same life. From preschool to college, for the most part classmates share both similar lives and labels. Whether you are first or last in your class, everyone in the 10th grade is a sophomore.
And then you graduate, and everyone that you’ve been the same with your whole life is now different. But the training to live by comparison, to measures success by looking at how you measure up to the people around you, for me, that didn’t just go away.
This month marks the 2-year anniversary since I graduated from college. This was a tough one for me, in part because when graduation everyone’s advice seemed to be that graduates should take 2 years to figure out what they want to do. I think this was meant to take the pressure off: to make us feel like we didn’t need to have everything figured out by the Sunday after graduation. So what does it mean years out and still not know?
Probably, nothing. People get to be fifty and still don’t know, but that shouldn’t get in the way of living your life … right Mom?
It is so crazy to look back two years and see the fantastic things my friends have accomplished. Friends that went straight into grad school after graduating now have master’s degrees or have passed their qualifying exams to get PhD’s. They’ve paid off their student loans, found new exciting jobs, started their own businesses, and moved into new apartments. Girls who were single on graduation day are engaged. The list goes on, and I’m doing some of these things to. And even if I’m a little jealous sometimes, that doesn’t mean I’m not hugely proud of all of them.
But what is harder than facing the occasional green-eyed monster, is not knowing how I stack up when compared to friends who are living lives that seem so separate and different from mine. I’m hoping this sounds slightly more thoughtful, than pathetically self-pitying (which is not my intention). Has anyone else had similar experiences? Does anyone secretly wish there were grades at work?