Is The Grass Always Greener?

I love this submission by Claire.  She hits the nail on the head.  I honestly do not know one single female who does not go through the well-documented meltdown that starts with “my life’s a mess.  Hers isn’t.  She’s got a clue.  She’s so sorted.  She’s married.  She’s got a house/a car/great shoes/a proper job.  I don’t.  I don’t think I’ll ever be that sorted.  [Panic/self loathing/insecurity, repeat ad infinitum]“  And living in a world where each others’ highlight reels are all over Twitter and Facebook, it’s like a Recipe for Self Doubt.  And we play into it.  And we must stop.

Over to you, Claire:      

The first time I met my friend S, we were both working at the Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton. I wasn’t even due to start my ‘grown up’ job for a couple more weeks, but had gone along for the day to see what party conferences were all about at the suggestion of my new boss. S was a press officer at the organisation I was about to join and I remember how, at the end of the event we attended, feeling like I didn’t know anything as she talked about what had been discussed and sending out press releases… Plus I had SERIOUS clothes and hair envy. Even though she was only just a couple of years older than me, she just seemed so grown-up, professional and pulled together and I felt like a little kid.

We went on to become good friends, more so once we lived at the opposite end of a very long street in the same part of London. I still envied her though; buying a flat with her (now ex) boyfriend, cooking fabulous food and generally looking gorgeous and stylish at all times. It wasn’t a bad jealousy though…more of an aspiration of ‘when I grow up I want to be just like S’.

Just before I turned 30 a few months ago, I really struggled with where I was in life. My job was about to come to an end and I knew I didn’t want to carry on in the same field but had no idea what I wanted to do. Living with my boyfriend of two and half years, I felt like I was in the middle between my single(ish) friends and those who were married and having babies – I was neither one nor the other. We want to buy a house, somewhere with a front door and stairs of our own, but can’t start thinking about where we might begin to be able to afford together until I know whereabouts I’ll be working again and how much (or more realistically, how little) I’ll be earning. I felt (and still feel) stuck and floundering and like the direction the rest of my life/our future would take was all down to me and if I made the wrong decision, that was it, I was screwed.

Several times over the past year or so, S has joked that when she ‘grows up’, she wants to be just like me as I seem ‘so sorted’. The first time she said this, I gaped at her in shock and told her I’d always wanted to be like her.

I can look at all my friends and always find something that I think they’re better at than me, or an aspect of their life that I’d like in mine. I am so envious of those people who have a burning desire to be a teacher or nurse, or know that they’re great at something/have an amazing and inspirational idea and so start their own business. Reading the posts on AOW, and dipping into the blogs that some of the contributors have, I constantly think that you all seem to be such lovely people and pretty much sorted in life as well as stylish and creative. I know that that isn’t always the case and that there are probably people out there struggling with exactly the same things as me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my boyfriend immensely, I know he feels the same and there are so many other good things in my life but why do I find it so easy to ALWAYS see the best in other people and ONLY the worst in myself?

Do we just present the best version of ourselves to others and leave the bits we’re unsure of behind to torture ourselves with? Did I just grow up conditioned that ‘no-one likes a show-off’ so don’t ever want to seem like I’m bragging about what I have? Or is it because I’m pessimistic and don’t want to admit when things are good just in case they all go wrong?

Maybe there’s a case for a late 2013 resolution of trying to really recognise and be thankful for everything that is good in my life before looking at other people’s and thinking ‘if only I could do that job/live there/be blessed with interior design skills…’ Perhaps the idea of writing down three things that I’m grateful for at the end of each day is something I should start doing – and if anyone has any other suggestions about how to really appreciate what you have then they will be very gratefully received!!

Categories: Family, Friends and Relationships, Life Experience
42 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted March 20, 2013 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    I love this post, it’s like you’ve opened up my brain and spread it all over AOW. I struggled with this horrible self-doubting not-quite-there-yet for the whole of my twenties and as niggling and minor as it might sound it ate away at me until I was in quite a horrible and frightening place. The journey from then til now has been one of trying to find perspective – it’s taken me dropping all the way to the bottom mentally and financially to realise that NONE of it matters. None of it. The person you are and the people around you is the stuff that matters, and it’s now and today that matters – not agonising over where you should have been yesterday or where you ought to or might be tomorrow.

    Strangely, I don’t think I do present a together view of myself to the world – I wonder how much of what we see in other people’s “togetherness” is what we infer and wish for ourselves rather than what is actually there?


    • Posted March 20, 2013 at 7:53 am | Permalink

      Oh yes, Penny, exaclty this. Perspective, defining what success is, what matters (family, friends, the little things). Those are things I have been struggling with / learning in the last year and a half.

    • ClaireH
      Posted March 20, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      I think we definitely see or infer togetherness in other people that’s not always there and you’re right, it’s definitely a case of keeping things in perspective and almost saying to yourself ‘right, today I am a good person and am going to do the best I can’ (although some days that is so hard)


      • Posted March 20, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

        I think there is a combination of factors here- people possibly share less of the difficult aspects of their lives (although I think on AOW and with the AOW community this is less true) but I think that the good, the pretty and the beautiful from their lives sticks in our heads. We exaggerate it and downplay the other elements (if we even know about them) whilst we do the opposite for ourselves.

  2. Posted March 20, 2013 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Oh Claire, first of all, even if I don’t *know* you I hope that you know that you are in fact a great woman, that we are all just trying our best, and that none of us is as perfect as it might seem from the outside.
    It’s always easy to see the qualities of others, and at the same time we are very good at downplaying our own achievemnts (because we are inside our heads, we know our insecurities….). But everyone is struggling. And I don’t think we ever reach a point where *we achieved all the goals and dreams we wanted to*. There is always something more, that’s what keeps us challenged and going and learning and curious and alive.
    If I have learnt something in life is that comparisons are the devil. Someone else always seems to have it figured out, to have all those things you only dream of. But it’s not true….
    Anyhow…. writing down the things you are thankful for, the good things, stopping to think at what you have achieved does help. And maybe setting goals, defining where you want to be, but also breaking them down into small steps (what can I do to get there. First 1. then 2. then 3. ). It can be small things.. .maybe you want the stylish home. Well you could start by getting one of those cheap vases and some flowers from the market as a treat for you, just because.
    I know this is all very easy to say, and sometimes the circumstances are out of your control (this comes from someone who has 2 scientific degrees and has not managed to find a related job after 3 years of constant applying, trying, interning and thinking out of the box).
    But I think as long as you keep dreaming, fighting, doing, striving, reinventing yourself if necessary, you are on the right path.

    • ClaireH
      Posted March 20, 2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      I think you’re right about wanting more being the thing that keeps pushing us – we just have to make sure we want more or to do better in a constructive way, rather than wanting impossible things where we will only become unhappy when we don’t achieve them.

      And yes, I think setting out goals and objectives and working out small steps to achieve these can help. I’m trying to do it at the moment and making sure I focus on things like having a good relationship with family and friends and being healthy and fit as well as what I want in a career/job.


    • Posted March 20, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      Hugs, Amanda.

      I know it’s cliche that it’s “the little things in life” but sometimes when you can’t control or seem to influence the “big things in life” then making small changes is all you have left. And they do make a difference xx

  3. Posted March 20, 2013 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    ” I felt (and still feel) stuck and floundering and like the direction the rest of my life/our future would take was all down to me and if I made the wrong decision, that was it, I was screwed.”

    This entirely sums up how I feel right now, the idea that our future rests on me making a decision, and that by being where I am, I’m holding our lives back.

    In fact this whole post is just the inside of my head lately, I spend weekends with my friends, and have such a great time, I love being around them and remembering how it is to be myself, without the fear and the worry. And then, when they go home I cry for hours because they’re all doing so much better than me, they’re all achieving so much more, they have jobs and careers and they know where they’re going and I’m so lost, and feeling such a failure. I don’t know why we do this to ourselves, I know my friends don’t view me as a failure, and that in many ways I am doing just fine.

    What I really don’t understand is why we need to compare ourselves to anyone else? Why do I need to compare my life to other people’s in order to check how well I’m doing? I am alive, and I’m trying to live well and be happy… isn’t that all we should be doing? And yet I feel so com

  4. Posted March 20, 2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    (Hit post too early… muppet!!)

    …compelled to compare my life with everyone else, just to see whether or not I’m okay. It’s so silly, and destructive. BUT I CANNOT STOP. Agh!

    Thanks for writing this post Claire! Really struck a nerve. And it’s always good to know you’re not alone in feeling this way.

    K x

    • Posted March 20, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      I know someone who does the opposite. She compares a bit of her life she feels good about to a bit I feel bad about and then when I tell her I wish I had what she has she wanders off. I have decided I don’t want to play that game anymore. It’s horrible and I think it comes from the same insecure place.

      But its easy to do the comparing game. Not just with friends but with other people. I spent ages thinking I needed to look like other famous women my height – like I needed to have their figure to be happy. Though that is a whole different post, its part of the same problem.

      I think we make our insecurities bigger because we don’t see other people’s in the way we see our own. For us they are the big bad bogeyman while those of our friends we think they are well equipped to deal with or wrong for thinking they have.

      Its the thing that keeps coming out of being our own best friend and cheerleader. Hard but ultimately worth it when possible (and I mean when possible – a pshychologist once told me that you can only have self confidence if others have been confident in you first)

    • ClaireH
      Posted March 20, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      Awww Katielase – I’m sending you a big hug. Sorry if that’s a bit weird!

      I think that although I’ve always felt like this re comparing myself to others (as everyone else has been saying they do) but it’s been exacerbated by my recent spell of unemployment because this takes away one of the reference points that people use to define who they are – I wasn’t doing the ‘normal’ thing among my friends of going to work. I know what you mean about feeling lost/like a failure (and I’m not quite sure how to say this without seeming trite and schmaltzy) but you’re right, you have friends and a family that love you and none of them see you as a failure and I suppose it’s about trying to hang on to that and also see that as an indicator of doing well – for example, your recent post about being close to your family, I would love to be that close to my sister!

      Hope this wasn’t too rambling and made sense…


      • Posted March 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        xxxx to the lovely and brilliant Katielase. I found unemployment completely took away my anchor and identity and I think anyone would struggle. Claire is quite right – let the people around you catch you. My best friend would just sit me down and tell me over and over why she believed in me, and even though I didn’t always believe it, it’s what got me through. You ARE brilliant, even from the little I know you I can see that you’re destined for incredible things – don’t take the first thing that comes along just because it assuages some guilt that you always need to be seen to be doing or earning or fitting some pre-determined idea of what you think other people think. Have faith in yourself like your family and friends do.


        • Posted March 20, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

          Siobhan, Claire and Penny, you are all quite lovely, and brilliant, thank you so so much. You’ve honestly made me cry. Being unemployed is one of the hardest things I’ve done, weirdly, I did not expect it to hammer my self-esteem quite this severely. But it does help, as you say, to focus on the good bits and the friends and family who are holding me up! I think all of us could do with seeing ourselves through the eyes of those who love us.

          K x

          • Posted March 20, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

            Katie, I am right there with you, feeling the same, going through the unemployment (already 3 years), and having my identity, self worth, self esteem constantly questioned.

            Hugs to you.

            It is NOT you . It is this economy…

          • Posted March 20, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

            Katie, I want to give you the hugest hug. I know that Siobhan, Claire and Penny have already said it (and more articulately than I will) but you are amazing. I am constantly in awe of your wisdom and compassion, the care and understanding that you show in every comment/post you write. Your sense of humour is a delight. Your knowledge of science and your passion for your subject is inspiring. All of this I know and feel for you without even having met you- I am sure that your friends and family could add reams of praise to that list. Listen to them and Gareth. Try to be a friend to yourself as well. And if that all fails, vent on Twitter and eat cake xxxx

  5. Posted March 20, 2013 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Sorry for this as I think it might be an epic comment but here for me are the key things that are happening when *I* do this.

    1. Deferring happiness
    I’ll be happy when x,y,z happens. When we get married I’ll be happy, when we move house I’ll be happy, when we have kids I’ll be happy. Why put it off until then? Why? So what I’ve been trying to do is think about what I think my life will look like then and seeing if some of that can happen now. For us that has meant less TV and more time sleeping, chatting, reading books and listening to music. Weirdly it is all the stuff we did when we had no money and were thinking we’d be happier now…

    2. Not being true
    Basically I realised I don’t want to be anyone else but I do want to be more like the me I am in my head. Late last year I realised I was trying so hard to be London Siobhán (whoever that is) that I wasn’t being me anymore. This is despite the fact that I’d spent my whole life being the only person I knew who dressed like it was the 1970s and listened to all the music I love and loved comics who was female, for some reason I got to London and thought I had to be someone else, someone who followed fashion and was more of a rock chick apparently. And that made me unhappy. Really unhappy. And skint. Really skint. So now I am slowly trying to address that. I’m going ofr climbing lessons again (I love clinbing), I’m doing a clear out of my clothes and I’m listening to the music I love again, not just what I think other people will think is cool. And you know what? It is helping. I’m also thinking now about what I want, and where jealousy of someone else points to something I want in my life, or admire in them rather than letting it eat at me (at least all the time).

    3.Not accepting the things I can’t change
    Yesterday was a horrendous day. And I fell right into a massive pit of despair. I will always do that as I am prone to that. That wont stop happening if I live someone else’s life as that is part of me and who I am. I will never think I am thin enough as I had an eating disorder as a teen. That wont change but I need to accept I will never be thin enough and that some days I will not see the point in being alive. That’s just part of me. I like me, and though I’d rather not have those parts they have taught me loads. They wont go away just because I get a new haircut/job/house/child. They’re part of me.

    4. Not realising how far I have come
    Seriously. 8 years ago I earned half as much money, lived in a flat which had massive damp with a man I should nto have been in a long term relationship with (no fault of his we just should not have been together) and was MISERABLE. But from there I made some friends who are now some of my best friends, I took risks that have given me amazing opportunities and adventures and I met and married my husband. I’ve come a long way. What seems unsurmountable now might seem like a blip when I look back again in another eight years so I need to roll with the punches and take the opportunities where I find them.

    So this is what I do. I hope any of it helps. I think comparing yourself to yourself is better and more useful than comparing yourself to others and putting ANYONE on a pedestal can be really dissapointing eventually.

    I hope you find what works for you x

    • Vivienne
      Posted March 20, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Truly epic, but wonderful comment – thank you x

    • ClaireH
      Posted March 20, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      You can’t beat a good epic comment, especially one that is also full of awesomely sensible advice – thank you! x

    • Posted March 20, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      So much wisdom in this comment and it all rings so true for me….

      In a difficult period recently, I wrote a post-it note for my computer screen reminding me of everything I had survived (things that I didn’t think I would or could at the time). Seeing it there helped me immensely xx

  6. Vivienne
    Posted March 20, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    To be honest, I think you have probably described how every single one of us feel. Its the classic swan analogy – looking all calm and serene above water, but paddling like billy-ho underneath.

    On paper – I am a grown up – married, house, baby, but I couldn’t feel any further from grown up. While I feel wholly fulfilled as a mother, I still worry that I’m not doing it as well as my peers, even though the 18lb laughing little soul in front of me assures me I am. I think we need to learn to cut ourselves a break, and realise that, like Claire’s friend, the people we envy may in fact be envious of us

  7. Posted March 20, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    This is so spot on Claire…I think it is so easy to look at your friends and colleagues and think the grass is greener and wish you had what they have, without realising they probably do the same to you.

    I saw this quote recently and thought it sums things up perfectly – “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” ~Steve Furtick.

    Although I don’t necessarily think people purposefully present the highlight reel….you can’t possibly see all the behind-the-scenes stuff for those you look up to because you aren’t them, but they probably have the same insecurities that you do xx

  8. Fran M
    Posted March 20, 2013 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Yes, yes and yes to this – and all of the comments *airpunch*.

    I definitely compare myself to others too much and need to rein myself in every now and again. For me, it’s not so much the comparing myself to specific individuals but just the sense that I should be always doing ‘more’ to realise my full potential: where I ‘should’ be now. The ‘more’ and the ‘should’ are undefined terms and can change from day to day, depending on my mood / confidence levels etc. It sounds ridiculous now I’m typing it out but it’s stupidly true.

    Can identify with Siobhan’s first point about deferring happiness. Telling myself to screw my plans and to get on with what I want to do is the only way I really get around it. Easier said than done, but I’m getting better and definitely feel happier and less frustrated than I have done in YEARS. It makes me sad that I wasted so long feeling insecure and insignificant, because of my silly mind.

    However… I’ve also come to accept that comparing ourselves to others is quite a normal human thing: and personally, it would be unrealistic for me not to do it at all. It just needs to be kept in check. I hope I’m not alone in giving myself a good talking to every now and again…? :S

    • Posted March 20, 2013 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      The should and more are things I hear from the students a lot. Its really hard to accept this (and I certainly don’t all the time) but all you can do on any given day is your best. All you can work with is what your options are in your life, what is available to you. If you are ill or tired and can’t do as much do the best you can do when ill or tired, don’t try to do the best you can do when energised. If your options are limited right now, make the best of those you have (I keep saying this one to myself – not sunk in yet) and I do give myself a good talking to about once a week at the moment – that’s where the epic comment came from!

      • Posted March 20, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

        Yes yes yes – I think such a huge part of this would be eased if we all just GAVE OURSELVES A BREAK. Would we be so hard on anyone else?


  9. Gemma C-S
    Posted March 20, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I think Theodore Roosevelt said it simplest and best when he said ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ We all do it, and Claire you are totally spot on. But I think it helps to have friends you can talk honestly to and say ‘I envy you this, or I feel I fall short of you here’ knowing they’ll reply ‘yes, but your strengths are here and here and here and here.’ Siobhan honey, I think you need to cut that frenemy off… life is too short. and on that, life is too short to treat others lives like a shop window. All we can do is do our best.

    • Posted March 20, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      I think I do too – hard though after years of quality freindship. Also to be honest I think she is in a bad place. I’m just going to back away for my own sanity but maybe not clear off completely!

  10. anotherSarahB
    Posted March 20, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    This post is exactly how I feel!

    I can empathise with @Siobhan “I know someone who does the opposite. She compares a bit of her life she feels good about to a bit I feel bad about” – I must seem like I have it all sorted because I’ve had a number of ‘friends’ do this to me and wear me down. I’ve recently cut my losses with a very good ‘friend’. I just can’t be around people like that; I don’t have the strength or self esteem.

    True friends accept you for who you are, there might be times where the green-eyed monster rears its ugly head but you accept and celebrate your differences – you’re friends because of them.

  11. Laura
    Posted March 20, 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I’m another one who is a grown up on paper…married at 25, buying a flat, have a stable job and career. But then I’m quite shy, and I’m always comparing myself to the loud, life-and-soul-of-the-party people who have loads of friends. It took me a long long time to realise that actually being me is OK and I don’t have to be one of those people to be fun/interesting/happy, but it’s still so easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others.

    • Alex
      Posted March 20, 2013 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      I had the impression you were looking into my life Laura. This is exactly how I feel every once in a while when I am tired or feeling a bit down.

  12. Kandra
    Posted March 20, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Great post. This -” I felt (and still feel) stuck and floundering and like the direction the rest of my life/our future would take was all down to me and if I made the wrong decision, that was it, I was screwed.”
    Is also how I feel, truly lost, and everyone else seems to know where they are going… its like heading downriver and I feel like everyone else is swimming quite happily in the direction they want to go, taking the streams they want, and I am just being swept a long in the current, unable to decide and everything is just whooshing past, I would like to get out and stop and regroup and take a breath, but there never seems to be the chance!

    But how people see you (and by you I mean every you!) is surprising, I am shy, really shy, I feel socially awkward and am terrified of meeting new people. But I have recently had the pleasure of meeting some lovely new friends and one of them asked me something and then said “I am asking you because you always have this wonderful air of calm confidence” to which the only reply I could come up with was huh?! Then about a week later another new friend said to me “ when we first met, all I could think was I couldn’t believe someone like you would bother talking to someone like me!” Because she thought I was this super together high flying something or other….so not the case. at all!

    So yes I think everyone is fighting their own battles and actually my Nan always says that we should be nice to everyone, even if we are not having a great day/week/month because we dont know what battles they are fighting, and I have found this to be very true, shes a very wise lady.

    • Posted March 20, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      “everyone else seems to know where they are going… its like heading downriver and I feel like everyone else is swimming quite happily in the direction they want to go, taking the streams they want, and I am just being swept a long in the current, unable to decide and everything is just whooshing past, I would like to get out and stop and regroup and take a breath, but there never seems to be the chance! ”

      Perfectly put!!

      K xx

      • Posted March 20, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        The river analogy sums it up perfectly. I had a moment of thinking about the song Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads – “My God! How did I get here?”

  13. Posted March 20, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    What I find strange about when I do this, is its always for really daft and superficial things like how good their hair/ make up/ clothes / nails is/ are. And yet these are the things about myself that I am mostly indifferent about, apart from special occasions. Why do we do this to ourselves?! Somehow I still find myself thinking that when I’m a grown up, I’ll be like them.

    • Posted March 20, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      It’s funny you should say that Lucy because when I watched your 30th birthday video I was amazed and envious at how beautiful you are and how eloquent. It was mostly the eloquence, humour and wisdom of your speech that impressed me but there was definitely an element of “wow, look how stunning she is with those beautiful eyes, lovely hair and gorgeous dress”…. xx

      • Posted March 21, 2013 at 11:33 am | Permalink

        That’s so kind of you to say, what a compliment!

        If only I looked like that every day. AOW sponsor Carolanne Armstrong did my make up, so I can’t take the credit for that, she’s a magician that girl.

  14. Pickle
    Posted March 20, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    This is such a good post, I do the comparing myself thing all the time and also fall into the trap of telling myself ‘I’ll be happy when x happens / when I achieve y…’ I’ve realised doing that means I’m constantly living in the future and unable to really fully truly be happy in the present. I’m working on it but it’s hard.

    I have a question for all you wise ladies: do men do this?

    I’ve had long talks with my husband and he just doesn’t do the comparison thing, the constantly feeling he’s not quite good enough, the doubting his abilities when he does something new and the looking forward to happiness in the future rather than enjoying it now. It might be just him but I have a suspicion that men just do not question and doubt themselves on the many many levels women constantly do.

    I’m aware that on paper some bits of my life look great at the moment (I just moved abroad, got a new job etc) but the reality is hard, exhausting and stressful. To forestall comments from friends about how great my life must be and how they envy me I find myself making a real effort to tell them ‘it’s not all that great – the reality is pretty crappy at times’ which I suspect they don’t properly hear and just serves to make me feel a bit less happy with my life. Maybe you can’t win.

    • ClaireH
      Posted March 20, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Just on the point re whether men do this – I showed Chris my submission after I’d sent it in and asked him exactly the same question that Pickle has posed above. He surprised me by saying something like: ‘I don’t think it’s specifically a female thing, blokes feel like this too’. I must confess that I thought the same as Pickle before he said that, and I still think that it’s probably a much less common feeling/insecurity among men than women.

    • Posted March 20, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know if my husband does this through comparing himself to other people but I know he does it in himself, if that makes sense? ie he won’t necessarily be comparing himself to someone else and feeling that he is lacking but he would still doubt his abilities and downplay or deny his good points…

  15. Posted March 20, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Such an excellent post Claire!

    Everyone has covered so much ground in the (all fantastic) comments so all I have to add is an entreaty: today or tomorrow or even the next day, tell someone something you admire about them or something that impressed you when you first met them. I will bet you that this friend/family member/colleague/fellow AOWer will be pleasantly surprised and possibly even incredulous that *you* thought *that* about *them*.

    In metaphorical terms, I’m suggesting that you invite them over the fence onto your lawn so they can admire how green their grass is from this angle, how flattering the light is and how yummy that complimentary cocktail tastes. (I think my analogy ran away from me but hopefully this rambling at least makes a little sense).

    To all the AOWers- I admire you. I’ve read your posts, your comments, your tweets and you are all wonderful (especially if you’re reading this and thinking that I can’t possibly be talking about you). Now go and invite someone onto your symbolic lawn!

  16. Posted March 20, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been reading this all day and I’m still not quite sure what to add apart from yes, I’m guilty of doing it too. So many people that I look at and think “wow, they’ve got it all sorted, do they even know how lucky they are?” I think the sense of comparison is particularly strong in something like the legal profession – you train together and then compete for qualification jobs against each other, and even though I’m happy with the decisions I’ve made and couldn’t do it any other way I’m also struggling with job searches and can’t help but wonder sometimes whether I should have done it like other people have. Aargh!

    On a personal level I think Siobhan got it with her epic comment. There comes a point where you need to be happy now, and that means being true to yourself and knowing that it’s ok not to like certain bands, wear certain clothes etc and to not be at a specific stage in life. And, erm, I’ll work on the other two…

  17. Kate G
    Posted March 20, 2013 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    This beautiful peice of writing always makes me feel a bit better about myself no mater how blue. Read it aloud. So many lessons from it. Hugs to all in The Black Dog Days – they too shall pass. :)


    Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

    Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

    Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

    Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

    Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

    Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

    And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

    Strive to be happy.


  18. ClaireH
    Posted March 21, 2013 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Oh all you lovely AOW-ers – I am still overwhelmed so please forgive me if this doesn’t make sense/rambles a bit.

    Thank you so much for being so honest about how you feel and for all of your comments, advice and quotes. It’s simultaneously reassuring and slightly heart breaking to know that I’m not alone in feeling like this and I just want to say to all of you that you’re all amazing wonderful women with so many fantastic qualities, friends and family who all love you and so much to give to the world – even if it’s not what you originally thought you’d do or anything like anyone else is doing.

    I think what I definitely need to remember is to always have a healthy dose of perspective and know that I definitely have a tendency to only see the good points in other’s lives rather than what lies behind these. I also need to be true to myself and think about what really matters/makes me happy rather than what I think *should* matter or what I *should* be doing/achieving because ‘everyone else is…’. Finally, if I know that I’ve always done the best I can at any one time or made the best decision from the options available (rather than waiting for an ideal set of circumstances or a time when things are ‘perfect’ which will never happen!) then I will try and be satisfied and move on, rather than thinking ‘if only…’

    Thank you all again and I hope you all have a good end to the week and a lovely weekend, armed with the knowledge that you’re all fabulous and several of your friends are probably wishing right now that they could do something half as well as you do it.

    Claire xxx

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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