What Am I Doing Wrong? ...by Bill Knell
At various times in our lives we take a snapshot of where we are, where we were and where we would like to be. Most of us aren't totally happy with the results. Sometimes we compare our situation to those of our friends or associates. That makes us ask, "Why can't I be where they are in their life and career? What am I doing wrong?"
If you're going to take some time for self-examination and compare your life to other people's, you should never allow that time to turn into a self-condemnation session. Sure, we would all like to be doing better then we are, but everyone is different. You might be surprised to find out that some of the people you have decided to compare yourself with are not as happy or fulfilled as you think.
During my late teens and early twenties, I spent a lot of time with a guy I'll call Jimmy. He played guitar and I liked fooling around with the drums, so we ended up as close friends. When we first met in a group of people, he seemed somewhat distant and troubled. Having been where he was, I understood that living in New York City and being a teenager was a lot of pressure for anyone to deal with. We spent a lot of time playing music and talking. Being a couple of years older then Jim, he tended to listen to some of my advice. After we had known each other for awhile, Jimmy told me that he had been contemplating suicide and meeting me had probably saved his life.
While we were close friends, our fortunes changed. He started college, moved to Long Island and got engaged. During the same time, I had invested myself and all I had into what I had hoped would become an opportunity for me, only to find myself totally betrayed and all my hopes dashed. This resulted in some bad decision making on my part, which left me without friends or what I believed was much of a future. So I moved to another part of New York City and took a job as a Church Cleaner.
During the time I worked at that Church, I met some new friends. Although the Church I worked for was one that I didn't worship at, I found myself in a position to work with and help teens that were getting into trouble there. Although I can never say that the time I spent cleaning that Church was financially profitable, it was a growth experience that gave me the opportunity to share myself with others and help a lot of people. That's something that no one can place a price tag on.
It was Jimmy's goal to be a professional musician. He never attained that goal to the extent that he would have liked. His parents were intent on him becoming a professional in a more stable field, a doctor or lawyer. He did become a lawyer and as I look at him today, I sometimes get jealous. Not because he's a lawyer, but because I would have liked to have had supportive parents. His parents made everything Jimmy has possible for him. Since we haven't spoken for many years, I do not know how happy or unhappy he is. I know of his situation, but not how he feels about it. What I do know is that he probably wouldn't be here at all if we hadn't met. Rather then fret over all the advantages that Jimmy had over me, I can rejoice over the fact that I was able to help someone to go on and not give up!
Before you decide to have a personal pity party over where you are as compared to friends, relatives or co-workers, stop and take stock of some of the good things that you've done. Things that have nothing to do with money or status. And if you're still not satisfied, then it's time to get out and lend a hand to someone. Volunteer at a hospital or blood bank. Donate your time to a church, synagogue, mosque or whatever religion you choose to follow. Use your experiences to empower and encourage those down on their luck. It's never too late to start doing good. And it's likely that good will come back to you.
During the time I was having a lot of problems, Jimmy was too busy and self-involved to help me. Maybe he was angry because of some of the bad decisions I had made and I fully understand that. But help did come. I had given help and it returned to me when I needed it. Looking at things in the present can distort our view of our own situation and sometimes make us feel badly. Where you are now, might be exactly where you should be, even if it doesn't seem that way.