A few years ago I went through a terrible phase where everyone around me seemed to be getting and achieving exactly what I wanted to have and to do, while life was just passing me by. I got so sick of having to congratulate people and be pleased for them, when it felt as if my nose were being rubbed in my failure and the pointlessness of my existence and I wished they would all shut up and leave me alone. Instead, they went on and on about how happy they were – or, worse still, they complained about how difficult it was to have whatever it was I longed for and expected me to sympathise! I railed against the unfairness of life, not that my friends and relations were succeeding but that it was my destiny always to be shut out of the party, watching through glass as they all enjoyed themselves but unable ever to join in.
I believed my fate was to be always the bridesmaid, never the bride; always the stage-manager, never the lead actor. Nothing was ever about me, yet so much seemed to be expected of me in terms of support and making things happen for other people. I was thoroughly fed up.
As it gradually dawned on me that I didn’t have to accept this state of affairs, that in fact my fate was not mapped out, that I could take control and shape my own destiny, I also began to realise some other things:
1. I don’t necessarily want what everyone else has got, what society thinks I should want. Why be upset about not having children, your own home (mortgage), a snazzy car, when actually your interests and desires lie elsewhere? You don’t have to conform.
2. I don’t have to support other people. In fact, if I take my arm away, they very often don’t even notice. Making myself indispensable to other people was what gave my life purpose and meaning and I held on to this long, long after I had come to feel resentful about the amount I used to do for other people relative to what I got back. This is bad, both for me and for them, and I’m so much happier now I’ve (almost) eradicated my compulsive, unhealthy need to give.
3. Luck and happiness are not finite. Just because he, she and they have got a lot of them, it doesn’t mean there is any less out there for me – or you.
If we get stuck in negative thought patterns, believing we’re never going to have or be what we want, it becomes self-fulfilling. But we can break down the psychological barriers and change what we once thought was our destiny. It can be done, it can happen to you, and a shining testament to this is the new men’s Wimbledon champion, Andy Murray.
Perhaps the moral here is that life is often fairer than we might think it is; it’s just that we’re so busy looking at what other people are doing that we fail to notice or enjoy the benefits we have.