I’ll tell it to you straight—last Monday was a pretty shitty day. I’ve been feeling pretty “meh” lately about life and went into the week with a bad attitude. Tears were shed at work, and to top it all off, the clip on my spin shoe came off in class. Luckily, I wasn’t hurt, but it seriously felt like one bad thing after another was happening. (And yes—I know a lot of my problems aren’t life threatening or altering problems, and I’m so, so grateful for that.)
On Tuesday, after a good night of sleep, everything felt a little better.
I spent the majority of the rest of the week in a very contemplative mood.
Why did I let my emotions get so out of check in a routine meeting?
Why do I have no motivation to do seemingly anything productive?
Why do I feel so stuck?
As I mentioned in my most recent life lately post, my five year work anniversary is at the end of the month. As part of that anniversary, I am putting together my annual review document where I share with my boss my big wins from the last year. I kind of dread doing it because it is a lot of work on top of my regular work, and since it is a direct reflection of me, I want to make sure I do a great job.
Last week, before I started putting pen to paper on it, I began to think about all the skills I have at work now that I didn’t have this time last year. When I thought about how long and deep that list is, I realized I really have made great strides this year.
Then, I started to think about all the goals I’ve achieved this year that I was still working toward last year. And all the goals I’ve achieved over the last five years since I started working—many of which I wouldn’t have even been able to dream up back then.
And that’s when I began to ask myself the question, do you ever stop to think about how far you’ve come?
In this chapter of my life, it seems like everyone is looking to the next big thing. In the last week alone, I’ve had friends buy houses, move-in with significant others, adopt puppies, announce engagements, switch jobs. I love my friends and I am so happy for them, but sometimes it is so hard to not get swept up into the comparison game.
Last week, as I was thinking about my work and non-work accomplishments over the last five years, I realized that I tend to work so hard for something, race right on past the finish line, and move onto yearning for the next thing or focusing too much on what others have achieved—instead of celebrating where I’m at for a while. And truthfully, where I’m at is pretty good. Really good, even.
As my favorite graduation speech so profoundly says, “Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.”
So, as cheesy and self-indulgent as this may be, in an effort to focus on how far I’ve come instead of how far I want to go, I thought I’d share a few visuals of the strides I’ve made over the last five years—and I encourage you to take your own a stroll down memory lane. At minimum, we can collectively realize the improvement of iPhone photography over the last half decade.
Let’s start with my sense of decor.
Then—cluttered, colorful, DIY.
Now—colorful, simple, more mature.
One thing I’m especially proud of honing over the last five years are my photography skills.
Then—no DSLR, unsure of my favorite editing style, still learning angles.
Now—well-shot photos that are edited to match my personal style.
While I still find outfit photoshoots a bit awkward, I feel like I’m a more confident person on and off camera.
Then—questionable faux tan, super long hair (how did it even grow that long?!), slight Chandler Bing smile.
Now—a robust lipstick collection and better understanding of angles ;].
Another notable accomplishment from the last half decade is that I earned my Masters Degree.
Then—proud graduate of the University of Virginia.
Now—proud graduate of the University of Virginia and Georgetown University.
One area of my life that has grown dramatically over the last five years is my love of travel.
Then—limited vacation days and funds to sneak away. (This photo is from one of three weekend trips I took in 2014—it was a half way to the New Year party at Harrah’s Pool After Dark in Atlantic City, LOL!)
Now—more flexibility at work to take time off and better knowledge about how to score a good travel deal. (What a difference a few years can make—I was out of town 18 weekends last year!)
I wanted to end this post with two photos of the plant I keep on my desk at work. On my team, it’s a tradition that for your first birthday with us, we buy you a plant from the Harris Teeter down the street. As a result, we have quite a collection of plants in our bullpen, and I love how the liven up—heh!—the space.
I was gifted my plant in November 2013—my first birthday there. It was small back then, and even had some beautiful yellow flowers. In the nearly five years since, it’s grown dramatically and I’ve had to re-pot it twice.
Don’t forget to stop and think every now and then about how far you’ve come.
Love this post, Katie! I think most of us rarely stop to think about how far we’ve come, we just think about where we have yet to go, so it’s wonderful to take a step back and reflect.
Also, the faux tan, haha. How did we think that was a good idea?!
Thank you so much for the kind words, Heather! Reflecting is so, so important — especially if it means we will avoid fake tans in the future ;]
I love this post! It can be so hard not to compare your life with others, or to feel like you aren’t accomplishing anything (whether it be professional or personal) but the best solution is what you said – to take a step back and look at your accomplishments over time, not just the last week. Congrats on all of yours!
SO well said, Maddy! Thank you for reading and for your kind words! x
Katie, I just adore this post. I agree that a lot of times I look around and I feel stagnant as everyone else soars ahead. We can be so hard on ourselves. It’s so important to remember how you’ve grown, not just in the very traditional senses (work, relationships, etc.) You have so much to be proud of. Again, such a great job on this post 🙂
x Diana // Pearl Girl
Diana – thank you for your kind words and for reading! So glad we were able to meet and become friends this last year. x
I needed this post today Kurbs!! Thank you! You are incredibly talented and should be proud of all you are now!
Aw proud of you too, AEV! Glad we could catch up this week! x
Such a great post, Katie! I loved seeing how much you’ve grown over the years. I totally think your feelings are normal and will only help you grow even more! It’s hard to not play the comparison game sometimes. Kudos to you for taking a step back to see everything YOU’VE accomplished! xx
The Champagne Edit
Thank you so much Dana – you’re so right! xo
I 100% resonated with all your thoughts & feelings in this post! As we get older it is SO hard not to play the comparison game of life stages & milestones. However, I think your idea of seeing how far you have come is definitely the way to fight those feelings and be proud of the journey you are on! XO
Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words, Gentry! I am so glad my thoughts resonated — nice to not feel alone for sure! x
This was an excellent post and a great suggestion for a mental exercise! Loved the flash back photos! You have indeed come a long way!
Aw thank you for reading and the nice words, Kristen! x