The millennial dilemma of comparison | Lizzie

No matter how much it may appear you have things together, you can never find that point of happiness and satisfaction. Why is that?

As soon as life starts going right and you’re making your way to that point of being able to put a genuine smile on your face, something in your brain says NO, putting you back in that deep abyss of sadness and self-dissatisfaction.

You’re only 20 but you feel like you should have a mortgage already, a ‘17 plate car parked up on the driveway, a three year relationship with prospects of soon becoming engaged, a six figure salary, a Master’s degree, a 999 credit score on Experian and maybe a diamond-encrusted Rolex with a pearl dial.

It’s as if we millennials have been driven to think success has to be reached as early as possible – otherwise you’ll be deemed a failure. We’ve been forced to think everything is a competition.

If you passed the exam, but didn’t get the highest grade … you’re a FAILURE. If you graduate with a First but you went to university a few years later than others … you’re a FAILURE. If your body isn’t of a certain physique… you’re a FAILURE.

Here comes the worst of the bunch, something I call the millennial dilemma of comparison:

‘If X does better than you… you’re a FAILURE

As millennials we’ve been brought up in this society to always compare ourselves to our neighbour, trying our hardest to find light in this inescapable toxic social construct.

This can be partially blamed by our parents constantly telling us that so-and-so’s kid does so-and-so and you don’t. The education system separating us from as young as nursery, keeping the “Smart Kids” away from the “Less Able”. Social media. I don’t know about you but I have a love and hate relationship with Instagram. Although I barely post any pictures, the app remains there just in case I need to be nosy. I often find myself on the Discovery page engulfed in jealousy, then clicking the Home button in slight anger – “Why can’t my hips look like hers? Why is her skin so perfect?  I wish was her.”

I admit it. I can’t help but compare myself to others at times, and it eats me up to the point where I’ve suffered from serious panic attacks. The instant feeling of your whole body being turned inside out, feeling as though someone has poured hot water all over you, a striking migraine with the urge of potentially physically harming yourself when five minutes ago you felt perfectly fine.

It’s always nice to find out how your ‘competition’ is doing, as bad as it sounds, you find some sort of comfort in hoping they’re struggling as much you are – or even better, more than you are.

It dawned on me, it’s a matter of finding that balance. You’re not a failure. Do not let others define who you are and who you want to become. It’s okay to not fall in first place, second or third, it’s okay to graduate a little bit later than others, it’s fine to not have the body Instagram defines as a ‘Goddess’ (keep it a secret between you and me, I’m 90% sure Dr. Miami was involved). The only thing that matters in this life is your health and wellbeing, surrounding yourself with friends and family who light up your face as soon as you see them. Take things at your own pace, build your own lane and look forward, not backwards – nor sideways.

Find your happiness within. Today’s mishap does not define your tomorrow. And always remember there are people out there who are willing to listen.


Charity of choice: YoungMinds – YoungMinds exists so that young people have the strongest possible voice in improving their mental health. We need your help to make sure that voice is heard.

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