A theory of relativity

Too often, I feel inadequate because I compare myself to others. I look at their expectations, and conclude that I fall far short of them. In my mind’s eye, I am an imposter, constrained by the lack of ambition which characterised my formative years.

My family are all highfliers, my siblings a diplomat, a top lawyer and a PhD doc. If I compare myself to them, I could only be an utter failure. Like them, I was sent to private school from an early age, but had every last drop of self-esteem squeezed out of me, such that I left at sixteen to pursue my destiny studying English, politics and arc welding.

Yes, but this is not a melancholy lament, consuming me as I wallow in self-pity. No, it is an introduction to my new general theory of relativity.

For here I sit in a little house, on the side of a rounded hill, with views across the valley out to the countryside, the autumnal leaves a true delight; it may not be a large townhouse with great character, but it is ours.

For here I sit before two computer screens, engaged in work just challenging enough for my intellect, through which I earn a living wage, sufficient to sustain a family of four.

If I cease comparing myself to others, I am doing well. Relative to my own input and output, I am content: grateful, even.

Gradually we must learn not to measure ourselves by the expectations of others—by their exacting standards—but by the relative gauge of our own abilities, relative to the provision and decree of the One. By this measure, I can only say, Alhamdulilah! Hallelujah!

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