Talking to my mom during a moment she chose to check in, “are you okay?”, my answer firm, “yeah, you know”, then a pause of silence and a statement I was not expecting, so much so that I required multiple clarifications, which eventually led me to a realization.
It started off like this:
Her: “You should be proud of yourself you know”
Her: “For all you’ve done”
Me: “With what?”
Her: “With your career”
Me: “In regards to what”
Her: “Everything you’ve done. Two full years of interning at big media companies you got by yourself, without the help of anyone else. Forecasting for major campaigns with top companies. Working for an ivy league and soon getting your masters, or multiple, all by yourself. Affording everything on your own.”
Me: “But that’s life, I don’t see why I should be proud”
Her: “You got there on your own, you’re self sufficient at a young age paving a strong future”
That’s when it hit me, the perspective I have of myself is different than that of the outside world.
Me: “But…that’s the thing, this isn’t success to me. My goals revolve around writing, traveling, photography, something creative, what I do now is temporary, I don’t necessarily see where I am as something to be proud of. I am not ashamed but I don’t feel the need to boast…I don’t know, even if I continued down my current path, I could learn different coding languages to increase my value, I have opportunities which are not yet in my reach because I see so many things I need to do, to learn, which I haven’t, to get there. I’m on track for some things, like being a professor, and others I need to go out of my way to learn. Unfortunately, in order to learn some of those skills I have to enroll myself in classes which I know will put me in a position where I feel like the dumbest person in the room. I don’t think I’m being humble, I just don’t see where I am the same way you do”
I then took a moment to reflect, realizing if I were to compare myself to some people in my life, I would be seen as better off, more on track per se. If I were to compare myself to others, I’d be far behind, completely off course from my goals. Sure comparison may be the thief of joy, but we all do it.
During this conversation I realized, based on your perspective, your benchmarks, your assumptions, you may see someone as successful, having their life together. Meanwhile, to them they may be completely off. They may see no reason to boast, or be just as confused with their direction as the person you see to be lesser. To them, they may be on the same level as you, or even lower due to the distance from their dreams.
While I am thankful for where I am, I am nowhere near the goal I wish to be. My reality is far from my dreams, and while I strive to better my current position, as well as achieve my dreams, my perspective of myself, and of you, will always be different than yours, and so goes the ripple effect.