Grieving The Life, You Haven’t Lived
In the age of social media, it’s practically impossible to avoid seeing what other people are up to. Everyone is posting about their wedding, their new relationship, their new job, their new baby. With all that good news comes the downside: comparison. It’s hard to be happy with your steady, 9-5 job that pays your bills but maybe doesn’t fulfill you, when you see your friend living their dream life working the job that they’ve wanted to since they were a kid.
Comparison is hard. And it’s something that a lot of people don’t like to talk about. People on social media are only posting the very best snapshots of their life, but even knowing that isn’t enough to calm your anxiety about why your life doesn’t look like theirs. Seeing others do better than you are or seeing someone you’re close to getting something that you want, can not only trigger jealousy but also a little less talked about side effect… Grief.
Yes, we said grief. Because maybe you aren’t living the life that you want to. Maybe you thought you’d be married by now or would be living in a home that you own or would be expecting a kid. Maybe you thought you’d have two or three kids under your belt and would be making enough money to let your partner retire and stay home with the family. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Not reaching these self-imposed ideals and milestones can create a crippling sense of loss within you, and many individuals try to brush away those feelings as temporary. Psychologists suggest that this could be more damaging than the initial feelings of grief and loss themselves; it’s important to allow yourself to feel these feelings in a way that lets them breathe and then resolve. Stifling these feelings can make them come up in other ways. Sometimes these can be physical symptoms resulting from the repressed emotions, and sometimes the emotions themselves can morph into something more insidious. At the end of the day, it’s better to let the feelings of grief have their day so that you can move past them. Maybe you continue to pursue the thing that was making you feel sad, or maybe you choose another goal.
Now, we’re not suggesting that this process of grieving and moving past these hard feelings is easy. It isn’t. Sometimes it can take a long time. Therapy is always a good suggestion to have a neutral party who can point out the flaws in your internal reasoning. Nobody is perfect, after all, and no matter how objective you think you might be, feelings of grief cloud our judgement and make situations seem more dire than they are.
Grieving the life, you thought you would have is, hard and can be a long process, this is true. At the end of the day, though, allowing yourself to be sad for the milestones that you haven’t reached or the people you had to let go is an important part of growing as a person. None of us are the person that we thought we would be when we were a child, but that doesn’t mean that we are any less important or valid. Realizing that is an important first step, and after that, allow those dreams to fade away so that you can make room for a bigger, better future to work towards.