I am on a train again. You know what that means, another thought provoking, deep and meaningful blog. I don’t know what it is about travelling by train, but I find it inspiring to to sit at a table with the world passing me by at super fast speed on the other side of the window . Headphones in and dissolved into my own little word, there is a reflection of the special kind; unprovoked reflection.
The other day I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw a ‘friend suggestion’ pop up. I recognised the name and it didn’t take me more that two clicks on the profile before I realised it was somebody I went to school with. You know how it is, over time you all drift apart and you all start your own lives with a new group of friends…rarely do we make it through our lives with the friendships we formed in our younger years. Maybe it is because in school, we didn’t always have a choice of who we were friends with, instead we just got along with people because we saw them more than our own families. Slowly but surely, as I my finger made more clicks, I found myself searching through the whole class of ’09. It was total stalker behaviour, but I am known by my friends as the ultimate social media stalker, so it will come as no surprise that I managed to find pretty much all of my year.
I am one of those people who sometimes forget to look outside of the box. I seem to think every 23 year old is an ambitious blogger who lives away from home with a cat, a ton of emotional baggage and some rarely addressed anxiety issues. But that is the beauty of life; when you take a step back, you realise that each and every single person in this world is completely different. We all have our own make up, our own DNA, our own personality. We each have certain traits that annoy us in others and we all have a type of person we strive to be.
Slowly but surely, I began to see life events that have shaped my fellow peers. Engagements, marriage, homes, huge careers and babies. At 23, some people I sat in English with have achieved more than I thought possible at this age. Babies? Wow, I can’t even look after Alfie the cat properly (No, seriously, this morning I found him rubbing Window cleaner all over himself – I am not joking). I knew that some of us would go on to have huge careers, but living in America working in a high-end job is just bloody impressive. Then there’s me. As I stand on the cusp of twenty-four years old, I realise that I might not have achieved what I know feel I was supposed to. I have no children, I have one failed engagement and I work in a forty-hour a week retail job. I can’t look after my cat without him getting high off cleaning solutions and it took my two attempts to actually finish university. Sure I have my own flat, and I have dreams, but sometimes that isn’t enough.
And then it hit me. Here I am, sat on the living room floor at two in the morning, stalking my peers and comparing our lives. I realised I had just sat there in the early hours of the morning and done the one thing that nobody should do – I set my bar by the standards of other people. Why do we always do this? Why do we only send a Snapchat after we have made sure we are beautiful enough in another persons eyes? Why do we dictate how successful we are by what jobs other people have and what degrees they studied? Should we really be living our lives through the eyes of another human being? As I began to unravel my mind whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, I began to look at myself through my own eyes. Suddenly the world felt less big, and my little living room above a takeaway in Liverpool felt warm. No, I hadn’t turned the heating on, instead I had turned my mind back onto the right track. My life is only as successful as my own standards.
As I sit on the train, out of the corner of my eye I can see a young girl sat with her mum, she’s obviously been on a great adventure in London today as she is sporting lots of memorabilia and the cutest Beefeater teddy bear. I can’t help but wonder where she will be in twenty years, whether she will be as content as I am right now. Whether she will be a mother, whether she will be a graduate or whether she will be travelling the world. I almost want to go and sit next to her and her mum, and tell them that she can do whatever she wants to do, as long as it’s set by her own standards.
As children, we are raised upon the standards of our parents. In school, we are taught to the standards of the educational system. In adult life and beyond we have this wonderful opportunity to set our own standards. We have been gifted the with adulthood and yet we still sit and compare ourselves to peers on Facebook. To how many Twitter followers Sarah from art class has. To how many likes Paul from Maths got on the latest Instagram of his newborn son.
We are in our twenties. We should be able to set our own achievements and goalposts by now. And it’s okay to have them set lower or higher than anyone around us. Life is beautiful because it is something we are given, yet have free reign over how far we run with it.