Original Article by BeThatWoman: You can Master Your Current Level by Finding the Beauty in Your Now
I spent my twenties exhausted by Facebook comparisons, watching Facebook status’s change from single to in a relationship to engaged.
To make matters worse I worked as a wedding videographer filming wedding ceremonies and receptions every Friday and Saturday night. I spent the week with Facebook open in one window and my Final Cut Pro timeline in the other. It didn’t help that most of my editing happened in my childhood bedroom. In other words, I hadn’t yet reached enough financial stability to move out of my parents’ house. In short, Facebook was a butting reminder that I was losing at life. Relationship Envy: 5 Ways to Avoid it
I couldn’t understand how I was losing in my twenties. After all I was the 5th grade science fair winner and class president, the regional ACT-SO winner for painting my senior year, and I had just finished college in only three years.
I had always been competitive. All I needed was clear criteria of the competition and I could beast it. But this was different. The rules weren’t clear. No one had specified the steps to success or the markers that measured the journey. It seemed like everyone in my timeline was getting married, landing salaried positions, buying new cars and living in awesome apartments. How was I failing so poorly? Why was I losing? And what were the rules to this game?
Finally, at age 28, seven years after my college graduation my luck started to change and the life I felt I deserved started to emerge. So, what changed? Much if not all of what changed was detailed in BeThatWoman’s article.
1. I stopped using social media to compare my level of success to others.
This is so much easier said than done so don’t feel bad if you are struggling with this! Even once you’ve got it down it takes conscious effort to maintain. Here’s the key thing. Everyone is running a different race with different game standards and rules. Imagine trying to win at Uno with someone when they are actually playing Blackjack. It’s impossible, the card decks aren’t even the same. That’s how comparing and subconsciously competing in life is.
If you are currently an entrepreneur you can’t compare your success to your peer who works for Ernst & Young. You can’t wish that you had their salary, their apartment, their new car without acknowledging that they are on a completely different path than you. You’ve gotta run your own race. It’s the only race you can run.
Likewise, if you are in the beginning stages of a new and potentially awesome relationship you can’t get frustrated that your peer just got engaged to their long-term college boyfriend. Be happy for them, and excited for yourself! After all you haven’t invested years of long term relationship building as they have. You don’t know the trials and tribulations they have overcome. Be grateful and hopeful about your new beginnings.
So what happens if you don’t run your own race? What if you want the fruits of someone else’s successes immediately and you can’t wait? The trouble there is that there are no shortcuts to success. Whatever your course is, stay it. Jumping course is like hopping grocery store lines. From where you are standing the other line might look shorter, but that’s only because everyone has been avoiding the old lady at the front who is counting pennies. Don’t hop lines, work harder and stay your course.
2. Master the level you are on now.
With respect to careers, this seems self-explanatory but what the heck does it mean with regards to relationships? How do we master the level we are on now in order to be ready for a quality healthy relationship? For starters, you should know that marriage is a complex three-legged race. It requires so much communication, intelligence, patience, financial literacy, generosity, tactfulness and the list goes on. If you can build these skills as a single person you will be a better partner when you do get married. Marriage, 4 Things I’ve Loved and Learned from my 1st Year With that said, spend less time in envy of everyone around you getting married and spend more time dating and practicing these skills. When a relationship failed for me, I would feel so frustrated by the failure. I wasn’t able to see that it wasn’t a failure but an opportunity to learn and better myself. Here are a few practical examples of what you can do to work on mastering your level now:
Set some savings goals and stick to them.
In the 1 year after our small inexpensive wedding we paid for: honeymoon, security deposit for a new apartment, cross country moving expenses, small furniture items, new baby items, and now we are saving for a new car and 1st home down-payment. Whew! I am decent at saving but I really wish I had spent my 20’s saving even more. Had I done so, I would be an even stronger financial partner today because I’d have even better saving skills and actual money saved in the bank. Money, How Much Does it Matter in a Relationship?
Stay up on your Personal Care.
One of the lessons I learned in dating was that men really value when women take care of themselves and look pretty. I unfortunately learned this from several tactless men who insulted me with comments like, “Why don’t you ever get manicures?” or “Don’t you get your hair done?” In my twenties, I was broke and couldn’t afford these things nor did I really see the value. As I got older and better at money management I was able to budget in these kinds of things and I realized that having pretty nails and hair made me feel beautiful and more confident. Being more confident attracted better quality men, friends, jobs etc. Now that I’m married, I’m grateful for the tactless men who called my lack of personal care to my attention. They are long gone, thankfully, but my wonderful charming husband loves to see his wife with pretty nails and hair. While he would never tactlessly ask me rude questions like, “Why don’t you ever get your nails done?” he does get excited when I come back from the salon looking nice. 10 Ways to Be More Attractive & Confident
Increase your intelligence, communication and patience.
My husband is 4 ½ years older than me and he has lived in over 5 countries. He has visited places I may not honestly be able to pick out on a world map. There are times when we are deep in conversation or disagreement about a serious issue and I wish that I was wiser. In other words, I wish I had even stronger communication skills and outside knowledge to present whatever my viewpoint is more effectively. I am however grateful, for years of dating and being in various situations where communication was awful. With every awful communication encounter you can look back and analyze why it was awful and how you contributed to the awfulness of it. You can work to revise your communication strategy, increase your patience and bring more intellect into your decisions and opinions.
3. Follow Instruction, seek guidance from God or the Universe.
Last but not least, BeThatWoman advises us to seek guidance from God, or if you don’t believe in God, the Universe. There is an inherent energy that we can receive if we are open to receiving it. So often in my twenties I couldn’t receive this energy or guidance from God because I was too busy trying to make things happen. I took the expression, “God helps those who help themselves” to the most literal extent. There is truth in this expression, but we can’t force stuff to happen. We need to listen, receive and learn while doing.
One of the things I learned through dating was that I never felt 100% at home in any relationship. Everyone I dated thought my religion was weird or too strict. Love is Not a Marriage Even if we connected on issues of race and politics there was a divide in the category of religion. It was obvious from the outside looking in that I needed to date within my religion, but I was afraid to do this. I thought I was too imperfect to date a “good Muslim guy”. This is crazy because, it assumes the idea that anyone is perfect. It took me years to let go of this and finally meet my equally imperfect Muslim husband. Together we are both better at practicing our faith. Don’t fight God. Listen, adjust, humble yourself, forgive yourself for past mistakes and move forward with an open mind and heart ready to learn and receive.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly believe that good things are intended for you. I could’ve gotten married at 26 when my news feed was booming with engagements but it wouldn’t have been to my wonderful husband that I am now married to. At 19 weeks pregnant, my stomach is growing bigger, my body feels grosser, and my exhaustion and crabbiness peeks daily. I am more and more grateful to be with a tactful man who loves me when I’m not glamorous, and can see beauty in me when I feel disgusting. I most appreciate his patience and kindness and I know that many of the suitors that came before him would not have treated me as great. I’m grateful God gave me and him the extra five years to prepare ourselves to be great spouses for one another. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Believe that great things are in store whether it’s relationships, careers or something else. Believe it wholeheartedly and practice patience and appreciation for lessons.
For those of you who are in healthy happy relationships what advice would you add? For those of you longing for healthy happy relationships, what practical steps can you or will you take toward appreciating the moment you are in right now? How will you channel the anxiety and urge to compare that social media can sometimes create within us? How can you master your current level? What small steps will you take each day to make time to listen to God, consider new lessons and appreciate your journey?