Checklist Syndrome: Friendly Reminders When you Feel like you aren’t Measuring Up

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We’ve never in the entire history of humanity been more connected than we are today. Social Media has given us the ability to connect with people across the globe and see their way of life. Anything we want to know about the world at large is just a google search away. While this is incredibly beneficial for us to learn and grow, as creatures of vanity we can’t help but use these tools to watch our friends, family, our exes or high school rivals. Only to see their seemingly perfect lives and feel crappy about our own.

In most of our minds by a certain age we would be married, working in a career we love, stable with our finances, traveling the world, having kids, living in a lovely house etc. It can be painful when life doesn’t match the blueprint you set for yourself, but chances are you have something you’ve got that others want. Whenever you find yourself coming down with a nasty case of “Checklist Syndrome”, keep the following bullet points in mind.

  1. We only Post about the Areas in our lives that are going well: Someone that has found success in finances might be struggling in their relationships, but they’ll usually never post about their loneliness. They’ll post the new car they’ve bought, the view from their hotel overlooking a luxurious destination, and often times they’ll post and post and post. But when you’re posting, you’re not striking up a conversation with the cute bartender, or hitting the dance floor. We tend to want to put our best self forward on social media, but rarely do people see the whole picture.
  2. Even the stuff we have checked off requires maintenance: I have the most wonderful fairy tale marriage, full of insta-worthy date nights and Sunday breakfasts followed by cuddling on the couch. But even so we have fights that wake up the neighbors from a cold dead sleep. Checklist syndrome fills our heads with the idea that once an item is checked off we can relax and let the credits role. Your perfect job requires you to show up on time and do the work even when you’re exhausted, a happy marriage means that both of you sacrifice a little of what you want for each other, a big beautiful home will eventually need a new roof, and if you stop paying your mortgage you’ll lose it. I like how Alan Watts refers to life as a symphony. If you rush to the end of it, you miss all the music.
  3. Your checklist might actually be someone else’s: If someone you know seems happy because they have certain things checked off their list, that doesn’t mean you’ll be happy if you check those things off. You might feel bad because you’re at a certain age and still single or not done with college, but you have no way of knowing for sure that if those boxes were checked that you’d be happy. Chances are if you’re really struggling to meet a standard you’ve set for yourself, you don’t really want to meet it in your heart of hearts. Go within and search your soul for your real check list, but don’t give yourself deadlines.

More often than not, unanswered prayers are answered prayers. Be flexible with your definition of joy,  and be open to life’s surprises. You’ll always find something wonderful.

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