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New Years: Comparison is the Thief of Joy

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Comparison is the Thief of Joy 

It’s the beginning of a new year and as is always the case, we are bombarded with a myriad of resolutions. We’re confronted with a review of the previous year and often, whether consciously or not, engage in a score keeping exercise where we try to equate our worth with how much we achieved, or didn’t, in that year. We engage in a comparative exercise eyeing up the year-in-review Instagram and Tik-Tok videos made by our peers or the written statuses and tweets outlining the best of the year for all to see.  

Comparison is the thief of joy. Don’t allow yourself to become so consumed with comparison that you lose perspective. We truly have no idea what life is like behind closed doors for the people in our lives that we don’t live with. For those we’re close to, we may have a pretty good idea, but for most people that we encounter and certainly most people we see on social media, we have no idea what that person’s real day-to-day, off camera, behind closed doors life is like.  

This year, I challenge you to stop the comparisons and truly take stock of your year. Reflect on what made you feel good. Reflect on moments that made you smile, laugh, and truly feel proud of who you are or what you’ve accomplished. See if you can identify what those moments had in common and resolve to do more of that this year. 

This year is a big year for me, because this year I turn thirty. The big 3-0. Milestone birthdays can be an additional source of comparison for a lot of people and milestone birthdays can also bring up a lot of difficult feelings. These are often feelings of not having accomplished as much as you may have wanted to by that particular age or feeling like you should be further along.  

There is no set timeline for anything that we do in life. Sure, there can be ideal ages for particular things, but even that is subjective. For instance, one might argue that the most ideal age to have children is in your early twenties, but some may argue that early thirties are more ideal, while others may argue that mid-thirties are the most ideal. There are both biological and lifestyle arguments to consider.   

I once read that “the time will pass anyway”. This was in relation to the belief that it’s too late or you’re too old to start something new – such as return to school or change jobs. The quote had said something to the effect of if it takes four years to get a degree, the four years will pass anyway and all you have to do is decide whether at the end of the four years you will have a degree or if you’ll have let another four years pass anyway and wish you’d have started.  

I try to apply this to my life as often as possible. I don’t let myself get caught up in timelines or milestones. I do my best to live my life according to what feels best for me and where I want to take it. We can do our very best to do this and still feel pressure to complete milestones by a certain time. For me this next milestone is having children. As a nearly thirty-year-old woman, I feel like all eyes are on me and my husband, just waiting to see when we’ll start a family, and no one wants to talk about the if. 

The older I get, the more I find the notion that you’re not a family until you have children offensive. The idea that my husband, our two cats, and our dog, aren’t a family until we add a tiny human to it is unfair. Sure, it’s not a traditional family, but it feels like family to us. At this moment, we don’t have plans to add any tiny humans to our family and I’m not ashamed to say that I love my childless life exactly the way that it currently is. I love the freedom that being childless allows. I love being career focused. I love sleeping in on my Saturday mornings and enjoying my coffee while it’s hot. I love having the gift of time and retaining absolute control over that time to do with as I please.  

The longer that I remain childless, the more difficult it becomes to consider wanting to change my life to something radically different. If the time comes that I’d like to explore expanding our family, then that time will be the most ideal time in my life because it was the time that I chose – even if that’s years after everyone else chose to add children to their families. And if we don’t choose to add any tiny humans to our family and instead continue to lead a childless life with our fur babies, then I’m extremely excited to continue with that path we chose. I refuse to feel guilty for not wanting children at this time in my life or to allow other people to make me feel like I’m any less valuable to society because I’m currently choosing not to be a mom and may not ever choose to be a mom.  

Right now, I feel like I’m doing exactly what it is I was meant to be doing, leading the life I am meant to be living, with the people I’m meant to be living it with. All of this to say, I am a big believer in doing whatever it is that feels right for you on whatever timeline feels the best for you. Don’t let comparison steal your joy. 

About the Author

Charlene Scheffelmair is a partner with Davidson & Williams LLP in Lethbridge, Alberta. She practices primarily in the areas of corporate and commercial law; residential and commercial real estate; estate administration and planning; and foreclosures.

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