I have been thinking about many things lately because I have been gifted the time to do so. With our gym currently living in the online world, it has given me lots of time to think about being a business owner and the big constant ‘rat race’ of the world.
Everyone is always trying to get ahead, trying to get more, to be more, to be admired more. Everyone is always worrying about what he or she is doing, or how famous they are compared to you. All of this only makes you feel less successful, less worthy, less in every way. For as long as I can remember that is how it has been. The rapid boost of interconnectedness has only exacerbated those feelings we secretly all feel even further.
For the first time ever, the rat race has been put on hold. Well… not entirely. There are plenty of snakes out there trying to capitalise on the current world situation. Which is fine. You be you. But overall the rat racing world has hit the pause button.
No one is trying to get ahead, be the best, be the richest. None is trying to appear the most successful or slutting themselves on the Gram for likes and promo discount codes. No one is showing off. Except extreme narcissists… they’re always showing off, even when it is totally inappropriate.
The pressure is gone, and like a fog that has lifted, we are able to clearly see what is most important once again. What we actually need.
We are re-finding happiness in the social connections we can currently access, in spending quality time together, in doing up our homes, in going on walks together, in baking and cooking and reading and podcasting and playing music. In sharing valuable ideas. In listening, intently to one another. All of those things that serve us and those closest to us. Everything else is literally non-essential. It has taken a pandemic to help us all realise it.
I know that by being a business owner I may see and feel this ‘rat race’; more so than others, or in a different way. But whether any of us are physically in the rat race or not, we all certainly feel the pressure that comes from it to keep up with it.
A month and a half ago people were constantly under the pump. We were working harder than ever, doing longer hours than ever. We were spending more than ever, complaining that we didn’t have enough more than ever. Doing it all for things that we thought we needed in order to be happy or to feel as though we were keeping up, or worse and so very tragically, to numb ourselves from the pressure and exhaustion we had put on ourselves while trying to get all the things we thought we needed in order to be happy.
Comparison is the absolute thief of joy. We do it all the time, sometimes not even realising it. We look at what others have and compare it to what we don’t. We look at what others have achieved and compare it to what we haven’t. We use these comparisons as a yardstick for how we are traveling in the race. The problem is we are always behind. There us always someone who has more or who has achieved more. If you always search for someone to compare to, you will always find someone who has done something you haven’t. If you always compare you will always feel inadequate and unsuccessful. And, even if someone has achieved more than you in one category, it doesn’t matter if they are struggling so badly in another category than you happen to be thriving in, you still want what they have and you still continue to beat yourself up about what you don’t have.
Not only do we do this, we spend such an unequal amount of time on it compared to the time we give to appreciating what it is that we do have, what we are good at, what we are very successful with, what does actually make us happy and give us fulfilment. We spend little time giving praise to ourselves for how good we actually have it already.
You could certainly put a lot of this drastic rise in the western world’s poor self esteem and poor self worth crisis down to the influence and impact of social media. As a kid in the 90’s, it was very hard to find out what was going on in anyone’s life beyond my closest family, friends and maybe the celebrities in tabloid magazines. As for my parents, all you would need to add to that would be my dad’s workplace. That’s it. There were less people to compare to and less people to feel like we had to keep up with. Celebrity fandom was an unachievable pipe dream for most people. I would imagine that another 20 years before me the circle was even smaller.
But today we have access to a near infinite number of lives. Our circle of comparison and influence has grown 100,000x (made up figure) since the year 1999. Almost everyone is accessible, celebrity status is ‘appearably’ more achievable than before, and the number of people and businesses we can pressure ourselves to try to keep up with is just purely insane. We’ve gone from 30 people to compare ourselves to, to 500,000,000, in just 20 years!
This virus has completely grounded us all. None of us are immune. None of us are given special access. None of us are above the quarantine laws. Those you feel you have to keep up with are in the exact same boat now. They’re doing the same things: going on walks, avoiding everyone at the supermarket, over sanitising, figuring out schooling from home, and learning many of these lessons too.
I hope that this pause in the rat race is a lesson to all of us that we don’t actually have to be in the race. We can run our own race. We don’t even have to race! We can in fact do it all our own way. We don’t have to burn ourselves out with work in order to try and afford the things that we don’t need/think that we need in order to keep up/think that we need in order to cope with how busy and stressed we are from trying to be and do and have all the things. We can make our own path, one that is far less complicated to navigate.
All we need are the small, simple, easily accessible things that truly fulfil us, anything on top of that is just a little bonus, not a necessity.