Saturday, August 15, 2015


This post has nothing to do with Somaliland but just some things I've learned over the last year and half of instability. A while back a friend of mine posted a quote on comparison and it has only really sunk in now.

I'm super super guilty of comparing my life to others. Most of the time it's comparing my situation to those seemingly less fortunate than me. Which might seem like a good thing since it helps you realize how privileged you are. But the problem is, if you just aren't feeling great comparing yourself to someone who seems really happy with nothing is only going to make you feel worse.

The last year and half has been super frustrating. I like to think of myself as a positive person. I like to charge ahead and am usually undeterred by set backs. This is something I have prided myself in. I like the feeling of being in control even if things don't go perfectly. But this semblance of control slowly started deteriorating this last year. It felt a bit like I had a strong wall of confidence up and small things that went wrong started chipping away at it until I felt like I was left with nothing but to start comparing myself to people around me. Stupid. And unproductive. Numerous failed interviews, rejections from PhD programs, a badly sprained ankle that meant no running (my mental outlet) and an often overwhelming fog of uncertainty about whether I had made the right choices in the past and the direction of my future choices. Instead of the usual Rachel who is always optimistically moving forward towards SOMETHING I felt lost in a cloud of uncertainty and failed plans.

One of the problems with social media is that it allows us only a glimpse into people's lives and makes it extremely easy to fall into the trap of comparison. I found myself envying people with stability-home ownership, regular jobs, life partners, pet ownership. When I felt bad then I would stop and start comparing myself to people who live in villages and don't know where their next meal will come from. Momentarily I would feel grateful but then I would either feel guilty that I wasn't helping enough and even after years of hard work I had nothing to show for it, and simply feeling bad that here I was slightly depressed when I had so much to be thankful for.

Even now as I feel the clouds starting to lift and plans starting to materialize, part of me feels like the last year was a waste (something I hate!) and I have become overly critical of some of the decisions I've made. But here's something I finally realized. I think the last year and a half, even with all it's ups and downs, uncertainty, deep frustrations, and mistakes, was a gift. Why? Because now I know what it feels like to be deeply uncertain, to feel down and not really want to get out of bed in the morning, to live off of very very little money, to experience rejection and acceptance AND the danger of comparison. I think we can be sympathetic to individual stories while fully living and experiencing our own unique story.

So I'm going forward with the end of this year and it's new adventures with the attitude of gratitude. If I could choose I would not repeat a lot of this year and if I could go back would make different choices. But I'm grateful that in the grand scheme of things if this is the worst I have to go through I have so, so much to be thankful for. I can better empathize with people, who like me this past year, don't have their act together. And that's okay.

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