How to gracelessly watch someone else live your dream

I don't like to admit this but I've been a "comparer" for like five years. Comparing myself to other writers, to others who have their life more put together, to those seemingly doing more...

I wasn't raised this way. Although my mom was hardly present during our childhood because she was working, she brought my sister and I up by instilling in us the good-hearted values and knowledge parents are supposed to inspire in their kids by encouraging them to not compare themselves to others and try to be the best version of themselves. Clearly, I need to hear it more because I'm headed in the wrong direction. Or I could just change my way of thinking without needing to be prompted like a child, there's that too.

Earlier today I learned that someone I knew was living my dream. Namely, writing for a living and thus being able to move to L.A. I was bright as fuck shamefully green with jealousy. It was gross to see this side of myself. Comparing my lack of accomplishments to the brilliance of Zadie Smith and John Green is one thing because they are fucking geniuses and I'm not and I know that but comparing myself to someone I know, who has managed to carve out a life while literally starting off where I did but being successful, well, that's much harder to swallow.

My brain can rationalize this. For instance, I can think at this very moment that this person succeeded because they worked their ass off on their craft, something I have not done in a while. Yeah, I hustle but I could be doing more. So, I get why there's a difference. I get that our goals are different. I understand that our motives are different. I can even understand that our upbringing, was different. What's harder to do is watch someone else live your dream even though you know they deserve to.

Like most of my posts, I don't know where I was trying to go with this apart from just needing to spill my disappointment somewhere. Disappointment, by the way, that's huge. I think the initial flash of jealousy I had was overtaken by true disappointment in myself for not being more. Even if you're Bill Gates, I'd say disappointment is a universal experience. Can you relate?

I'm trying to glean something positive from this because more than once in my life, beating myself up over something and great disappointment have led to motivation that in turn, led to good things. It's unfortunate, however, that seeing someone else's success shows you what you lack. The logical person in me knows that realistically, no matter how similar the lives of two people are at first glance, the outcomes of their lives depend on so many factors and even if you tried your hardest you wouldn't be able to create a metric that was 100 percent accurate. I know this.

L.A. will always be there. And hopefully, one day I can share a piece of that dream, too and be more graceful about it.

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    I hear you. Being older I know I will never work for National Geographic and be sent to a location to photograph something. I have learned to enjoy seeing someone do what I hoped to do. In a way this is funny, you are living one of my dreams, writing a column. You rock! I still have the one of running a resort or a B&B, but I need to play the lottery now to get there. Ha ha ha.

  • In reply to Wally Slowik:

    You should totally start a blog on ChicagoNow dedicated to photography! You're never too old to fulfill this dream. Pitch them!

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