You know the saying "keeping up with the jones" the idea that you may experience rivalry with neighbours and engage in the same sort of conspicious consumption as a result, competiting to project the greatest measure of status?
Well, in a conversation with a friend of mine we observed how much people, at least people we know, tend to have abstract mental or imagined "jones" against which they measure everything, from their social competence and little things like that right up to their job performance.
What I've concluded is that people imagine that "behind closed doors" or "out of sight" everyone else is having a great time and doing a great job meeting with the challenges of life, when in reality I think everyone actually experiences similar problems.
This might sound strange but I started to think about this when I was about 17, lots of my mates were panicing about sex, wanting to experiment, wanting more, wanting better, wanting it all pretty much and a select few either had some but limited experience which they exaggerated or (more often) had made up. Shortly after that, when I was in my twenties I found a similar trend begin with relationships and dating rather than sex and now in my thirties there's something similar happening with marrying, settling down, having kids.
The one psychologist who I think made any sense of this was Jung, when he talked about archetypes in the unconscious becoming activated through maturation and growth and development. However I'm not sure if he dealt with the extent to which archetypes may not be reflected in the actual world but behave like a driving or compelling mental image. Do you know what I mean? Have you ever experienced this suspiscion?