This past week I had lunch with a work friend to whom I confessed my feelings of surprise and envy at seeing the photo of my former college acquaintance in front of her large new house with her husband and three children.
I explained that if I widened my lens, I realized I had a lot to be thankful for, but when I compared myself to the people I considered my peers– my former high school and college friends– I felt I came up short. There’s something painful about thinking back on all of us at twenty and then fast forwarding to today, where many are living in nice homes with large families and I’m still in a one-bedroom apartment.
My lunch companion, who is going through a divorce, said it’s easy for her to feel the same way when she looks at the wealthy wives in her neighborhood or her high school friends who are able to afford huge homes back in her home state. In reality, though, she’s much happier now that she has shed the stress of maintaining a house and cooking and cleaning for a husband. Her workload at home is lighter, and she’s able to treat herself to nights on the town and tennis lessons when her child stays with her ex.
I also came to the realization during our conversation that, on the surface, perhaps my life seems enviable to others; I could certainly spin it that way. The actual reality is complex, but I’m glad I tackled the challenge of living in an exciting city; for the time being, it gives me some feelings of pride.
We did both agree that while, on the whole, are jobs are decent, the stay-at-home wives we know are lucky to be sheltered from the dispiriting B.S. we have to put up with on a regular basis. They have no idea, we think.
I honestly think most of us have to deal with these feelings on a regular basis. Except for those who may have exceptional lives…most of us meet regularly, others who have “more”. That “more” can be anything… a relationship, more money, better job, betting looking, more talent, more friends, fun, etc etc.
I remember a sister of mine said “everyday I meet someone who has more than me”. She said like it was a part of life and OK and she has a great life…at least a beautiful home and lots of money (but maybe feels lacking in other areas).
Just yesterday, in my business dealings, I had to chit chat with a happily married woman who looks very very good at 50. I really liked chatting with her, we laughed and enjoyed ourselves. For a moment I though about her life…setting up a new home with her husband and how happily married she is…something I’d like to be. But then it passed…I let it go. Oh, she also had like zero wrinkles and is going thru menopause but still looks hot! Wow! Would I not love to have that!!!
Just wanted to add…it’s more painful when it’s our “peers” than anyone else. It’s natural to compare. Having said that Bitterbabe, you really do have a lot even though you are desiring a mate and more in life. And that’s OK. You should desire them. We all seek more expression in life. But be very glad you aren’t struggling financially…for many single women are…and getting by with a lot less. In a sense you are in the small percentile…not 1% but probably at least 5% in terms of income. So be glad about that…for most have a lot less.
I saw a financial counselor a while back and expected she would be impressed with the fact that I had no debt and a healthy savings account, but she just kept emphasizing that I needed to get those savings up even more and that, with an autoimmune disease, I would never be able to get long-term health insurance. It was all doom and gloom! But I kept it in perspective because I know far too many people who have no savings and/or debt.
I am not saying you don’t have financial concerns and I know you live in an expensive area. Just saying many have much much less. I have a intelligent gf…older (older than us by far), single, and is barely making her rent for her rent controlled apartment. Forget about health insurance…that’s an after thought. She just lives on the edge. I know many like this.
Interesting way of looking at it. The grass on the other side of the fence may not necessarily be greener.
I agree there is no joy in noticing those who have more. But to be honest, no matter how much any of us had we could always find someone who has ‘more’. That way discontentment lies. Instead turn around and look at those behind us who have less, of which there are many.
Personally I found it easier living in a less affluent area now, as opposed to the more affluent area where I used to live, but on the bottom rung. There I was constantly faced with viewing things I could not afford. Now that people around me don’t have all those consumer items of desire, it is a case of out of sight, out of mind.
The relationship side of things is harder to deal with since it is not confined to one socio-economic group. To my mind having a loving relationship is the ultimate success, for which I would give up all else, not that I have that option.
Everyday I remember that I don’t have some key things that most have…but I am OK and I have serenity often enough.
You said a lot of important things to remember.