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Eniola Olaosebikan: The Comparison Game & Finding Solace

Eniola Olaosebikan

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I am thirty. I finished my bachelor’s degree at twenty-two. I had my National Youth Service at the age of twenty-three and when I finished, I thought life was only beginning, so all I had to do was settle down to enjoy it. Before then, let me tell you some of my plans and dreams for thirty:

• I would have been married with at least two kids (if not three, because I was meant to have my first child latest at age twenty-five). I planned this because I didn’t think finding a husband would be a big deal. A husband shows up automatically when you are ready – so I’d thought.

• I would have a very happy home. A home in which father and children would be best of friends. They would play all around the house and throw pillows at each other. A home where every party (father, mother and children would be truly happy).

• I’d have been well settled into destiny (I plan being an actress, so at thirty, I would have acted in at least five blockbusters, amidst many other movies. I would have met kings and queens who would have been fascinated by my work). By  age thirty, I would have become an international voice and a force to reckon with in my field.

But now at thirty, how many of those dreams have I realised? None! Surprising?
The truth is life takes its toll on us all and life does not always happen as we plan it. Life happens in tides, turns, phases and seasons.

A while ago, I was looking at a social media platform and suddenly, all I felt I’d achieved (if any, at the time) came to shambles. I began seeing myself as nothing, compared to my friends who had visible results for their respective ages. They were married, had kids, seemed to have great jobs etc. Meanwhile, I was still settling into life as though I was twenty-three and had just finished my NYSC (National Youth Service Corps).

At thirty, I seem to have nothing of the things my contemporaries have. I am not married, have no kids of my own, no second or even third degree. I was trapped in a job I loathed, just to meet ends meet: a job which allowed me no flexibility to follow my dreams and at that, paid me so little to enjoy life with.

Prior to my social media fiddling and eventual dissatisfaction at my life, a quite unnatural feeling of suffocation and disinterest had made me resign my job (a job I’d had for six years) with little or no thought. I was just tired and at that, wanted a change. I was tired of going around in circles, hence my determination to follow my dreams – however long it would take. There had to be more to life than just existing and living a monotonous life devoid of passion, I thought. But months after resigning, I found myself almost back to square one. Should I shout for joy?

Maybe no, but I take solace in one thing- hope. I was tempted to compare my life with someone else, especially my friends with which my journey through life rhymed at some points in time. But no, comparing myself with other people would only make me sad and ungrateful.

The truth is, if I look critically at my situation, I might not be where I planned to be, but I am not where I used to be. I have triumphs equal to no one else’s. It might even surprise me to realize I have things others do not have, but because I have trivialized my own success and journey by fixing my eyes on someone else’ own, I find no joy and peace in the life I live.

Are my dreams still valid? Yes, just that the timing obviously would have to be different. The pain of not being where I would have loved to be should serve as a driving force towards the successful realisation of my dreams; not a force that makes me compare and get easily sad. Truth be told, a sad life can amount to nothing, because strength is generated out of a will to succeed. How can I have such strength if all I do is get sad, become envious and jealous of all my friends- especially those who seem to be doing better than me? For all I care, I should always remind myself of something: social media is a place where people give a highlight of their lives, especially the good ones. Nobody (or maybe few) would post demeaning things about themselves, even at the lowest point of their lives. People would choose the very best of the a hundred plus pictures they took, and of course, come up with the best of stories as captions. We all have problems; issues which no one (even you), would put on Facebook or Instagram.

To deal with comparison issues, here are some things I discovered and I’m adapting to chart life’s course:

a. Tough times never last, but tough people do

b. Life, especially a great life, is lived in stages and not all at once (and at that – joyfully); life comprises of stages that are mixed up with joy, pain, sadness, happiness and all.

c. Know yourself (the real you on the inside who no one knows is there) and fight to bring that person you know and see on the inside out to the world.

d. Never give up; keep fighting for your dreams even if it seems not forthcoming at the moment.

e. Above all, never let hope depart from you. Let it be the bedrock of all you do as you steer towards your dreams.

It will also be of great value and advantage to know that:

f. Life is a journey: a journey with a direction which we do not get all at once, but in parts and pieces. Sometimes, a direction is discovered in a mistake made; other times through intuition and some other times through seeming detours and delays. Till we die, our lives will always be lived in pieces. Its fullness is discovered after death and if it is a life well lived, it forms a legacy people coming up can aspire to. So, relax. Keep following your path no matter how sad or unsure it seems at some points. Just do no give up; don’t compare yourself with anybody. Life is a journey where everyone emerges a winner because in the end. It’s never a competition and there is no one else on your lane (neither are you on anybody’s lane).

g. No two journeys in life are the same. As faces, as well as finger prints (even those of identical twins) are different, so are destinies and the means to fulfilling them. That you are thirty, thirty-five or even fifty does not mean life would not happen for you; it eventually will if you do not give up.

Have you heard the story of Grandma Moses? She actively started her painting career at age seventy-eight and became a phenomenon before she died. Not saying yours would be that long, just saying anything is possible and age is never a barrier – as long as you do not give up and you keep working diligently towards your dream.

You might not be where you think you should be, but be grateful for where you are and never give up on hope. Also, never compare yourself or your life’s journey with another. Even though you all started somewhat at the same time, where you all are going is different; and because there is nobody else on our lanes, we would always end up as winners if we do not give up.

Be happy being you – even while you fight the battle of your life to get you to a better place. You are never a failure until you pronounce yourself as one. So, keep fighting, keep dreaming and keep rocking each +1 with passion, hope, determination and courage: preferably with no comparison.

Photo Credit: Stefan Dahl Langstrup | Dreamstime.com

Eniola Olaosebikan is a creative, spontaneous and in-depth writer. She writes poems, fictions, articles, songs, speeches and biographies. She holds a master degree in International Business Management from the Aberystwyth University, Wales, United Kingdom. She also speaks at conferences and seminars. You can connect with her on her social media handles; @Facebook- Eniola Olaosebikan @Instagram - cream_legend @Twitter- TheEniolaOBlog site: https://soulwriteralways.blogspot.com.ng/

28 Comments

  1. anonymous

    July 3, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    I remember telling my younger brother that I’d teach my kids to enjoy each phase of their lives and not be in a hurry to become adults because adulting is tough. His response was ‘no need to tell them, when they see you living and loving your life to the fullest, they’ll naturally follow your lead’.

    My 25th birthday was the worst, I had thought I would have done so much more afterall, I graduated at 20, finished NYSC at 21, started working at 22 and at 25 saved up enough (as per oil and gas). But at 27, na here I dey oh; but I’ve decided to count my blessings.

  2. Kibeydine

    July 3, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Wow.I can identify with this article!

  3. Missy

    July 3, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    Thanks for this. I was here a few months ago. Battled depression even but when God came through for me, His timing was perfect and I know I have supernatural speed to cover seemingly ‘lost ground’.

  4. Senegal

    July 3, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    I can relate so well to this. I am in my lowest right. I feel helpless! just this morning I cried out my heart. I feel all my mates are getting married, building a career and living the good life but at 26 I am still in year 3 pursuing a degree. I hurts and it’s good to be hopeful but sometimes you can’t just help but be sad

    • anonymous

      July 3, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      You are even pursuing a degree and you are complaining.. .am 24 and I Am not in school yet.. .but I took a friends advice and acquired a skill, that part gives me joy.. .my dear, cry if the need arise but wipe your eyes thereafter and continue the race. #Cyberhugs

    • moi

      July 3, 2017 at 9:10 pm

      @Senegal, don’t worry about being in school, at the risk of sounding trite “it’s about the destination and not the journey”. I was in your shoes graduating from Undergrad 11 years after high school and i felt like a failure, but i got into a ranked MBA program one year after undergrad and have multiple job offers with generous pay packages. I said all this long story…….to encourage you to keep your eyes on the prize and block out the noise and societal expectations. live your best life…..whatever that looks like for you and i wish you all the best in your journey!

    • funmilola

      July 3, 2017 at 10:20 pm

      Sweetheart, never give up!
      I graduated early this year and I’ll be thirty next year, make sure your tears are directed to your heavenly Father…..cry all you want but never give up.

  5. Physio Tinu

    July 3, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    Thank you for this oh.
    All these powder puff girls, instagram likes and Twitter retweets, Forbes list, etc …they will just be making me feel somehow. When they started with the 50 under 50 acheivers I was like, “Not bad, I still have time before I hit 50” Now they have 30 under 30 and I’m like chai, my own don finish, what have I acheived with my life? [hands-on-my-head-african-style ??]

    Wo, anytime I’m starting to feel that way, I say comparing myself is like looking at the car on the other lane to determine how fast I should drive. Na accident go finish the matter. I cannot kill myself.

    Singing chorus as in the 90’s….
    I have decided to mind my business 3x,
    No turning back, no turning back.
    One case at a time, I will solve healthcare problems in Nigeria starting with physiotherapy.

    Kisses to all! ??

    • Ade

      July 3, 2017 at 6:46 pm

      Hello Physio Tinu, I seriously pray and hope that you see this please can you contact me via email on at [email protected] as I do have similar ideas regarding healthcare in Nigeria and I would like us to rub minds together. Xo

  6. Rofiat

    July 3, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    Don’t be sad

  7. Wolexis

    July 3, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Bella Naija comment section; well constructed and articulated.

    The reason i come here everyday.

  8. Ej

    July 3, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    I was like this few months ago, me am 28 about to round up nysc, I don’t even know what God has for me yet, but these days I stopped crying and started to live, I embrace life and take each day as it comes and I have determined to help people as i climb up the ladder

  9. Sel

    July 3, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    Wow!

  10. Bukola

    July 3, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    My own story is similar. I cannot begin to describe how my life seems compares to my peers and to worsen the matter, everyone seems to have the same prayer point for me-marriage and children. I’m so tired of feeling pity for myself and I don’t know how to feel anymore because honestly, my life shocked me. I’ll be 28 this month, I have a master’s degree but no job, no money, no man. Sometimes I mock myself and say all these your friend’s children will soon be calling you grandma when they become parents.
    I try to develop a tough skin but that also wears out. Amyways, God is always good.

    • Ola

      July 4, 2017 at 7:10 am

      @bukola you are alive and not six feet below the ground, that my friend is enough to be thankful for… *cyber hugs* & this too shall pass x

  11. Bee

    July 3, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    I take life the way I see it, I believe God has greater and better plans for me. I av stopped complaining…

  12. SisiO

    July 3, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    Story of my life. Graduated at 21, served while I was 21 going on 22. Didn’t start working till I was 24 going on 25.
    Worked with a bank as a sales officer, what we refer to as ‘marketer’. A job i hated with all my guts), walked away at the beginning of the year.
    Do I feel stuck? Oh yes! Am I broke? Hell yes? Relationship? Err… Do I feel disappointed at myself? You have no idea.
    More than anything, I’ll stay thankful and positive afterall I’m all I’ve got- I owe myself that much!

    Pardon the epistle

    • Bukade

      July 7, 2017 at 4:49 am

      The lord is your strength and he’ll settle you

  13. Olakunle O

    July 3, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    Thanks for this great piece. It helped alot

  14. Grace

    July 4, 2017 at 9:47 am

    This article really hit home.One of the reasons I’m not on FB is it inadvertently fosters the comparison mentality.No matter how strong you are emotionally with all the fab pics you’ll start to wonder why your life is so dreary even if it isn’t :)…All that glitters isn’t gold.You’d be surprised the battles others are facing that would make you grateful for your own life.One thing that helps me personally is to count my blessings…the fact that you’re even alive means there’s hope for a turn around.I love what the poster said up there ..cry if you must but keep moving.May God meet our expectations.Amen!

  15. Mahka

    July 5, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    Thought I was alone till I got here. Writer are you me ?,this is my current life situation. I had a pretty good busy life 21- 24, immediately after service everything died down gradually. No work, higher education; no funds, scholarship nko, never lucky.

    Mum thought if I got married everything ‘ll fall in place; wasn’t in the right mentals so how can- when I thought I was just basic. I finally moved away from home to ‘hustle’ almost same shit , got a dead stifling job that I detest.

    Am still here,27 next month, really scared. I don’t want to use my socials anymore cos its too depressing n comparison is the thief of my small joy. God is real, I believe, this too shall pass. Amen.
    I ? BN. for conversations like this.

  16. thankful

    July 6, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Reading comments here is always helpful. On counting blessings ehn, !’m 26, with masters degree and what most people will consider a very good job and i still feel under-achieved. Contentment is key in this life. You see, I would like to be married at this age, at least that is what is expected at this point, we all know “what are you waiting for” questions, your mates have 2 kids already and all but I no longer even believe in love.
    But reading the comments above and all, i will continue to count my blessings, improve on myself, work hard and hope to be in Forbes 30 achivers

  17. SAMMYDEE

    July 6, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Thanks for this encouraging piece.
    Hope does not fail!
    I will always keep Hope Alive!

  18. Melony

    July 6, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    Wow! This is super amazing and super real. Thumbs up writer. This piece x-rays the battles in the life of a typical 30 year old. Thanks for doing this.

  19. Boluwarin Emmanuel

    July 6, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    Quite revealing…. Awesome piece
    Am lifted especially​ with the last two paragraphs…
    God bless you
    #Soulwriter

  20. Vivian

    July 7, 2017 at 10:24 am

    I can clearly relate to this story, I graduated at 20,with a course I could not make out anything from for myself. But even at that, I thought i knew where I was going. With my great career path and big ambition. Served finish at 22/23. Got jobs, fast foward am 27, jobs less, no masters, like i just keep going in circles.i have ventured into alot without much achievements ,with so much pressure from family to get married. With so much great in me to achieve. Dating someone ,not sure if àm going from frying pan to fire after desperately looking for a serious relationship in over two yrs. I just turned 27 and at 27 am still very much confused . should I get married and under go my plañs there. Or just keep waiting and stuggling and for how long. Tired though

  21. Olumuyiwa

    July 7, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    Eniola, am always happy to read you post.
    Nice you, am sure you know its just the starting point for you. A whole lot is affected by your sayings but we would all want to feel amoung than saying the plain truth about our life.
    Keep encouraging the soul, all will surrly end well…
    I salute you!

  22. Laura

    July 8, 2017 at 2:27 am

    Ohboy! Such an encouraging piece….sometimes we can’t help it but to compare and it doesn’t cure the sickness rather it makes it worse …his way is God’s way not yours or mine, don’t loose focus hold tenaciously to your dream and in God’s time you will pursure overtake and recover all always ask God for wisdom to know when his speaking to you..in my case at apoint in time i was blaming myself why i didn’t acept a particular rich suitor…maybe he would v been a way out for me..but NO was an answer I got..depression came but only Grace gave me back my CONFIDENCE. ..so friends do not be discouraged because where I am today none of those my friends I would v killed myself out of comparing myself to there success for can come close…that is God’s time WAIT and keep your head high so you won’t get drowned….even today some that are even older than me are refering to me as MA that is grace at work…don’t kill yourself for anyone your time is coming and is taking time because is a special package just make sure you are on the right track
    It MUST come ageis just a NUMBER don’t let it take over your mind
    Thanks writer you made my day

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