Build Your Own

messy thoughts

By Olivia Chung

Last week I was walking home in the dark after finishing uni late. I was thinking about the way I often compare my life to the lives of creative people I follow on social media/ anyone who isn’t following a conventional study path leading to a 9-5 (or longer) job. I admire and envy their freedom to do whatever they want and can’t help but to feel frustration for the seemingly ‘trapped’ life I live…

Fair to say I was feeling discontent. After a little while I realized that I had been focusing on what I DIDN’T have, and for no good reason, I’d put myself in a low mood. So I started thinking about how I can feel gratitude from what I DO have.

I analyzed my present surroundings. For starters, I have two legs allowing me to actually walk–even if one of my menisci and one of my hips is stuffed. I’m walking home by myself in a peaceful, safe, calm environment, listening to my current favorite song on repeat. I can look up to a clear (non-polluted) sky and see countless stars above me and think about how insanely large the universe is …

Then I started thinking about my current circumstances: I am living back in my hometown, with many of my family and friends surrounding me. At uni I am doing a selective placement in global health, learning about refugee health, climate change, public health–my passions that I might like to make a career of in the future…I still have spare time, even if it’s not much, to do things that I love-whether it’s learning Spanish, playing piano, journalling, or improving my photography. Job interviews are around the corner, but I’m surrounded by so many people who can help and support me to get through it. And no matter how well or badly I do, I’m lucky to be guaranteed a job either way.

So then I thought about the vague prospects my future holds: that I’m studying a degree that will provide me a rewarding, secure, job…That I might not have any money right now (thanks for bailing me out dad), but in the grand scheme of things, there really are very few barriers stopping me from living a life I want to lead…I’m dreaming about destinations around the world I could go to at the end of the year, places I could definitely make a reality if I wanted to. I live in Australia–where I can freely voice my opinion (without serious consequences), where I can access affordable healthcare if I need it, and where there’s an abundance of resources to meet my needs.

And then I stopped thinking. I realized where my thoughts were leading. I realized how happy my current situation made me. I realized how incredibly lucky I am to have all the opportunities that I have.

Even though I don’t have the same life as many other people around the world that I aspire to have, it doesn’t mean I don’t have a good life myself.

It’s just different.

And I’m so glad that I realize that! In a world of social media where I can be constantly comparing myself to others, it’s so easy to be brought down and forget the goodness of my own life, as well as appreciate simple things that can make me happy– whether they be the sun pouring through my curtains and waking me up on a new day, or the rich, warm hues of autumn leaves…Or the microwave in the common room that I can heat my lunch up in. Stopping to notice the little things in everyday life helps me remember how amazing life is. It also helps me to remember the bigger things that are a testament to how truly privileged I am. The fact that I get an education. Or that I was raised by parents who love and support me. Or that anything I want to learn is just a Google search away. There are so many other people out there struggling to survive–for fear of safety, for lack of resources, for lack of their government’s economic stability–let alone actually LIVE…So it’s important for people as lucky as us to make the most of everything we have. To use our opportunities to contribute to something bigger and meaningful. To maybe close that gap and help others live a life that we can.

So I encourage you to take a moment out of your day to pause and reflect. Try not to compare yourself to others and focus on what you don’t have. Instead, focus on what you do have! And use that as positive energy to work towards what you love, maybe helping a few lives along the way. Because I can guarantee you that there are millions, if not BILLIONS, of people out there who would do anything to have just one day in your shoes. Life is crazy, filled with so many ups and downs. Even if we don’t have everything we want in life, we can still find happiness in the smallest places. We should treasure every moment and make every day count–starting from today.

Don’t get so busy watching others build a life that you forget to build your own.

Make sure you create more than you consume.


  1. Ella says

    Thanks for this, I have been feeling discounted with my life recently as well, so thanks for reminding me to look for the good in life instead of the bad. Really loved this

  2. Izzy says

    Thank you for the advice to create more than I consume. This has been a goal of mine for a while, and this has really inspired me to keep working on it.

  3. Wow absolutely love this post!! So inspiring and I can relate to it so much.It’s so easy to forget about what you have and only start to think about what you don’t have and starting to believe you will never be like someone else. We can’t forget everybody’s life is different and fantastic in it’s own way and that’s what makes it so great and special!! Much love, Sofie

  4. This genuinely helped me…lately, I’ve been kind of trapped in this state of mind where I’m constantly comparing myself to others, especially with people on social medias. This made me realize that somehow, I put them on pedestals. Like you, I hope I can learn to concentrate on the good rather than on what’s holding me back.
    Thank you. Love, G –

  5. Shea says

    Thank you for this, Olivia! I, too, find it challenging to watch the “free spirit” lives of the creatives who inspire me and to feel that my own life is too… conventional, I guess, by comparison. Sometimes it’s challenging to separate feeling inspiration from another person’s life versus feeling like your own life is less-than if you do not create a similar life to the one’s that you admire. Thank you for reminding me to be grateful for all of the small (and big) things that I have to be grateful for.

  6. THANK YOU! this is something I’ve been struggling with so much recently … all those creatives I look up to, the people dropping out of school and making it work …. I so desperately want to do the same, and it makes me so upset with my life that I drive myself crazy. thank you for putting this into words, I really needed this.

  7. Amazing work. I’ve struggled with this a lot. Which caused me to have insecurity and anxiety. Glad to see I’m not alone.

  8. had to screenshot some quotes from this, as a reminder! Thankyou for these beautiful words, a lot of people (including me) needed to hear this💛

  9. I’ve just gotten home from a wild Summer in New York and came across this. It’s so crazy how you can feel one way, then find solace in something or even someone who paints out these weird feeling you have so clearly. After a long time of going back and forth I decided to stick to going to school at home and just finishing my degree coming home from such a high energy to a low energy made me feel oddly detached and kind of sad especially concerning the circumstances. But reading this made me feel so okay with my situation <3 thank you for this 🙂

  10. it’s an irony and a relief how there is no ‘one’ real definition of happiness.
    with everyone growing up in a unique environment, it’s nice how
    that other person’s image of happiness does not make me dream of
    the same happiness as them.

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