My issue is comparing myself with others. I am 32, female, and single, with a doctoral degree, a good job, and a full life. I have had two long-term relationships.
My singleness somehow means I have less self worth (in my eyes) than my childhood friends/coworkers/fill in the blank who are settled down. Realistically, I know that many people are in unhappy relationships. I also know it is natural to want to be with someone, but comparing myself to others doesn't get me anywhere except feeling bad about myself. I end up inadvertently glaring at women on my commute who are prettier and have a diamond ring on that finger.
Facebook also does not help, since looking at other people's weddings, babies, etc. always reminds me that I don't have those things. I do believe I will find the right person for me, but how can I help myself in the meantime? How do I let go of feeling jealous, resentful, and bad about myself when I compare myself to others?
– Perpetually Envious
Age has a lot to do with this. Many letter writers in their late 20s and early 30s start noticing what makes them different than their peers (lack of job, kid, partner). I don't expect that to make you feel better, but please know that some other 32-year-old is staring at you during her commute, jealous because it's clear you have somewhere to be.
The best way to deal with this kind of jealousy and loneliness is to spend quality time with the people in your life. Not a phone call or text – like, real hours of companionship and conversation. Facebook might show a friend displaying her ring or taking some perfect vacation with her partner, but if you talk to her about that trip, you'll get the entire story.
I'm not suggesting you'll find out she's miserable, by the way. It’s not about knocking other people down to build yourself up. It's just about seeing others' lives – and your own – as more than just a list of benchmarks. Because really, it's so much more complicated than that.
Readers? Should she take a Facebook break? Are there bigger self-esteem issues here?