By: Campbell Petschke
Currently Listening to: God Save the Animals by Alex G
We spend a lot of our days comparing. Living our life by measuring how our day will be based on yesterday, what our friends are doing to spend their free time… the list goes on. I feel like we spend a lot of our time expecting things to go one way because we feel they should live up to a certain standard that you or someone else may have.
Say you found a boba tea place a few towns over through a travel guide on TikTok. They’re claiming that this place has THE best taro blend in the whole state. You’re really into boba and naturally are curious if this really is THE best in the state. So you check it out, order it from the man sulking behind the counter because for some reason people who work at boba places are seemingly never happy, then right as the sip slides into your mouth up the fat, neon yellow straw… PLEGH! You spit it out as if you just saw a sumo wrestler bend down to pick up a penny. What the hell did you just put in your mouth? While you stare in disgust you realize there’s ten other people in this place that are enjoying “the best blended taro boba in the state”. Confusion strikes as you take another sip and let it sit with you, hoping that it’ll be better the second time. Like the movie Don’t Worry Darling, you hope that the sour beginning will get better over time. Trying to point out the merit in the situation instead of only seeing the negatives.
Why do we feel the need to try and fit in and convince ourselves that what we are doing is enjoyable? I’ve wondered this for years, not just for boba, but for many other things as well. I’ll get excited to go to this great bar that my friends will say is ‘amazing’ or ‘has the best atmosphere’. Then I’ll go and just miss that vibe completely. Also like the film Don’t Worry Darling, I try to find something that will make me feel fulfilled while engulfing this experience and it just doesn’t happen. Years ago if I would be asked if I enjoyed something like that and I would lie through my teeth and say yes. I would say yes because I enjoyed spending time with my people. To me, comparing whether or not you liked something your friends enjoyed meant that if you didn’t like it then you were outcast. Even though it isn’t the case and that my friends wouldn’t mind at all, I still felt the pressure to have this fun. Comparison isn’t always showing the difference with how you do feel and what you ‘should’ feel.
This entry is meant to demonstrate why many people use other people’s lives and experiences as a measure of what is to be fun or successful. We all have different interests and hobbies that make us unique and are fulfilling in our everyday life. The problem is there’s ideas in the world that have somehow crept into our everyday behavior to make us feel that certain things make us fulfilled and/or successful.
Are You Really Living?
As an adult in the social media age, I feel like comparison of how we should live our lives is higher than ever. We are three days into autumn now. Every year you’ll see families and couples going to pumpkin patches. Same goes for going to haunted houses with the homies. I mean if you don’t see a bum dressed as Pennywise the dancing clown make your friend shit their pants are you really fulfilling your fall potential? There’s a pressure during the month of October that if you are someone who celebrates the Halloween holiday, that you must do these things in order to having an exciting month. I love doing these things as much as anyone. If I don’t go to the pumpkin farm that I’ve been going to every year since I was born, I would be pretty bummed. The thing I don’t get is that we kinda feel obligated to share the same personality during this month or else you feel unfulfilled.
It’s not your fault, it’s not most people who actually DO these festivities fault either. It’s just if everyone is talking about it, more often than not you feel somewhat left out if you haven’t. Not because you want to be like everyone else, but who doesn’t want to have all this fun everyone is raving about? I mean if everyone started being obsessed with playing rock paper scissors and a rock paper scissors league started in your apartment complex, I feel like more than a few people would want in on this action if people are talking.
Not everyone takes these activities as MUSTS though. A lot of people don’t find enjoyment in pumpkin farms or being around that many families trying everything in their power to get that pic of their four kids all in a row by age looking like they’re pantsing the scarecrow that they stand by every year. No hate to any of those families at all, but if you make it everyone’s problem to get this picture with no regard for anyone else’s feeling in attendance that day that’s kind of shitty. I digress.
Couples probably argue about how the other couples they’re friends with have gone to the pumpkin patch and picked a pumpkin together, but they haven’t gone yet. The boyfriend comes to his girl and says it’s embarrassing that they haven’t gone yet and that they’re lazy for not doing this. It doesn’t matter that she took you to work for a week while your car was being fixed or that they took you out to a really nice dinner the week before, if you miss going to the patch and pick out an unnaturally grown pumpkin then they might as well sleep on the couch and think about how not festive you are. The way that people feel the need to mimic the activities of others in order to measure their level of happiness is silly.
Those activities in most cases are really worthwhile, but being resentful for not doing the things others are doing makes life so boring. I think of the neighborhood in Edward Scissorhands. All their houses are laid out the same, all the men leave their neighborhoods in unison to go to work, and the women all talk on the phone to gossip. It all feels so routine until Edward pops in with his steampunk Freddy Krueger cosplay.
This is in no way an attack on anyone who does gain influence or inspiration from other people’s actions. Everyone does that. When you force someone to be the same way as you because you’re afraid of being outcast or boring then you might as well start dressing like them, calling your friend’s parents ‘mom and dad’, and working the same job since you wanna live that life instead of your own.
Go to any Walgreens or endcap of any checkout line and there’s a Cosmo magazine with “wild sex tips that will blow your mind” or “signs that your relationship needs some spice”. For every person that walks past it mentally rolling their eyes there’s someone picking it up and taking those ‘tips’ to heart. These tips or signs that are often shown in these Cosmo type magazines are like taking your pet to a vet that cheated their way through their exams to get the job. Sure, they mean well and might even succeed in doing what they intend to do, but it also may cause more harm than help.
If we want to divide this sample of people who pick up the magazine even further, we can also see how many of these select few will read it and think that this applies to them. Not because their relationship or lifestyle is bad, but I think a handful of people will think to themselves that doing these things suggested will make those things THAT much better. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. I think everyone should take every opportunity possible to better themselves if it means they’re seeking happiness. Sometimes information Sometimes information or opinion pieces that are heavily advertised to the masses fall into the wrong hands. This is where comparison comes in.
There’s this trust that comes from whatever is written in this massively successful magazine. I mean after all if it’s been popular for this long it must be doing something right, right? A lot of people will believe that their lives are boring by comparing it to the experiences of the writer. I’ll pose this example. Say you go out to the movies every Tuesday night because Tuesdays are lackluster without finding a hobby. You and your partner have done this for years and years and always enjoy the conversation on the car ride home whether it sucked or ruled. It’s something that you bond over. You open up this article that says, “Give your Relationship the Second Wind it Deserves.” You’re enjoying the read and get real invested on how you can make this already great relationship even better. Your eyes glide across the pages and get to a paragraph of text that says, “Stop going on the same boring movie dates every week, instead go to a wine tasting downtown or to the new club that opened off main street!” At that point you can’t help but question if your boring movie dates are killing your relationship. That seeing the next Alvin and the Chipmunks film might not be good for your sex life.
Now you might brush this off and think that won’t be you, but then you find yourself driving home from the movies and instead of discussing how you felt watching the film there’s a palpable silence. You’re thinking is this really the life you’re supposed to be living? The next few movie nights turn into Tuesday evenings with crossed arms and dwindling patience as you sit in the theater filling with resentment as you start to believe that this isn’t really worth your time.
This narrative that what you see in publications and what people with platforms are telling us is more reliable advice is interesting. Why do we trust them or feel inclined to follow this lead? Is it because we see the status they have? Is it because we crave change and look to those people to help improve our well-being? We can’t let the actions or words of others invoke resentment for how we live our lives. We need to live our lives and not our life. It’s not our life, it’s the individuality we need to thrive.
This is for the Best, Trust Me
On a drive the other day I was listening to Kanye West’s classic debut album, The College Dropout. There’s a series of skits that follow a father illustrating to his son that getting his degrees will be the vital part of your success, even if you’re broke and can’t find a job. The skit that follows is the son saying that his dad died, but at least he left him his degrees to keep him warm while sleeping on the street. Why? Because he had an obsession with getting degrees and instead of being left with currency as inheritance he has his degrees.
The one thing that I’ve really enjoyed about these past few years post-graduation is that this generation can do really well without college. That may have always been the case, but that hasn’t been the consistent motive
According to a recent NBC article, there are reportedly 4 million less students attending college than there were 10 years ago. Whether that be due to COVID or just more opportunity for money is up to interpretation. I feel as though there’s a lot more shame for both sides as of recently. I’ve seen tweets that say, “imagine paying thousands of dollars for college just to end up working at a Walgreens.” There’s also popular forms of media where they deride those that attend community college versus going to a four year or a university… Why? If anything, those that do the community college route have the right to make the insult to other college kids that DID pay more for those first two years getting that same education. To a select group of people though, you’re less than them because community college is for the lesser being. You might as well be scraping the astroturf off their Doc Martins. Again, why? Education is education, shouldn’t matter how you intake it.
Better Call Saul has a whole plotline where Bob Odenkirk’s brother in the show, Chuck, resents him for being a lawyer and thinks he doesn’t deserve a job at his firm because he didn’t go to a prestigious law school. He took what he considered the easy route, despite Saul Goodman being a fantastic, yet unethical lawyer.
We compare more than we should. We can’t live our lives painting the same picture as different artists. We have to make our own art and let life overtake us in the way it was meant to happen. Just because our lives don’t see the cue cards or hit the same notes of someone that you may see as successful, doesn’t mean your life is going to be a failure. You just have to believe that where you are heading is the right direction. Don’t have a meltdown at the mall Santa because your Christmas card is ruined since it doesn’t look like the fancy one your sister’s family took. We all have a right to have expectations for ourselves, but that shouldn’t be someone else’s problem.