There I was - around 10 years old and completely amazed by the skill of this 7 or 8 year old drummer. I'd never seen anything like it before. Not only was he so young, but he played the drums with so much talent. He made it look effortless. Sunday after Sunday, I listened and watched in admiration. It wasn't long before I took the next step - I started taking drumming lessons. It was fun in the moment, and I enjoyed it to an extent. But my passion was short-lived, so I stopped taking lessons. I liked the idea of playing the drums, but I wasn't really committed.
Maybe you've been there too. Seen something admirable in someone else, the tried to reproduce it in your own life. It could be anything from a skill like drumming to the career path you chose to pursue. This can happen to any of us: we like what we see so we want it for ourselves.
The 'Comparison Factor'
There's nothing wrong with appreciating the skill and success of others. There's also nothing inherently wrong with being provoked to think about similar pursuits. But despite how much we may admire the attraction of what's new in the life of someone else, we have to stay true to what's right for our own journey.
The times we live in now are like never before. Social Media has exposed us to a worldwide stage of billions of lives to compare ourselves against. "He" just bought the latest car, "she" just married that dream-guy and "they" just quit their jobs because their business is taking off. Meanwhile, in your world, it's paycheck-to-paycheck, your job now seems to suck and your two year engagement just broke off.
When our timelines are saturated with posts like these, it's easy to start feeling like a failure. It seems like everyone else is living the good life, but you can't relate to any of it. In times like this, you might do what I did when I saw that young drummer-boy's success - try to replicate what you've seen in someone else. So you get the same car on finance, start a relationship with that lukewarm guy/girl and chase the latest business opportunity.
Maybe you can afford the monthly payments. Maybe that guy/girl will keep you company. Maybe that business opportunity will pay you a few pounds. But here's what we have to remember about those highlight posts. "He" might've paid cash for the car after years of saving. "She" might've married that guy after multiple, painful failed relationships. "They" might've quit their jobs after building their business on the side for years. There's so many factors that might play into the highlights of our peers. But if we're driven by their highlights rather than what's right for our own journeys, time will pass us by as we keep copycatting everybody else.
Focusing on the Authentic 'Me'
God has made each of us uniquely. We're a part of the same family unit, with many similarities between us (e.g. we're all loved by God, we're all called to be lights in the world, we're all called to love God and love our neighbour etc). But we also have many differences too. Different seasons, different resources, different skill-sets, different abilities etc. Because of this, not all of us are wired to be pastors. Some of us are skilled in business, some are great employees and some are even amazing event organisers. Some are single, some are married, some are more academic, some are better with their hands. The differences are endless, they overlap at times and they're not a bad thing at all! The sooner we start to celebrate our God-given differences, the sooner we can function better as His body (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-31, 1 Peter 4:10-11, Romans 12:3-8).
We don't have to make the mistake of copying others because we admire what's different about them. Instead, why not focus on what's uniquely in our own hands - the things that are right for our own journey? Sometimes, that highlight post will align with what's right for us in that season - maybe even in a season to come. But other times, it won't - maybe not now, maybe not ever. We have to be aware enough to see this in the moment. It'll help us learn to celebrate with others, rather than feeling like our lives are dull and empty.
The things in our own hands might not be exciting to others. Maybe it feels like God's short-changed us (which I assure you, He hasn't). That doesn't take away from the amazing potential hidden in the most overlooked differences. But when we constantly focus on what other people have, it stops us from seeing the treasure we already have in that moment.
1. If you find yourself feeling low, consider taking a break from Social Media. Social Media should serve us, not negatively direct our feelings. It might help to cut back on how much time you spend on it. If necessary, consider cutting it out altogether. This might seem drastic, but ultimately your well-being matters more.
2. Take time out to review your skills and abilities. Write a list of the things that you do effortlessly, the things you're passionate about and find people appreciating you for. So long as these things aren't inherently ungodly, ask God for wisdom on how to use the good things He's already given you.
3. Reflect on the season you're in. Ask God for wisdom on how to make the best use of this time and the opportunities in front of you.
4. Focus less on the things you don't have, and give more time to maximising on the things you do have.
5. Search for scriptures to remind you who you are and Whose you are. Sometimes we focus on our lack, rather than remembering our Father who cares for us and keeps us (see Exodus 4:10-12 for an example of this). If God is for us, we always win the real battle, regardless of how our present situation looks.
Further Scriptures to Consider:
Matthew 25:14-30| 2 Corinthians 10:12 | 1 Timothy 6:6-7