On my cross-country journey I visited a friend who is living a “Northern Exposure” type of life in a tiny, isolated, but culturally interesting town. The smallness and remoteness of the place is getting to him, but he said he doesn’t care that much about a social life because he lives with his girlfriend, and she is his best friend.
I compared his past five years with mine. He moved to a tiny town; I moved to a sprawling metropolis of seventeen million people. He concentrated on his prestigious but quiet job, a few solo hobbies, a small number of acquaintances, and his girlfriend. I dated a ton of people, travelled in and out of state, learned to surf, took endless dance classes, attended numerous cultural activities, learned the history of a sprawling region, tried out a variety of restaurants, joined at least a dozen social groups, explored a social scene centered on performance and fame, opened a large new facility, managed a bunch of people, and helped organize a fair amount of cultural events.
Would I trade my broader canvas of experience for his smaller, but no less interesting, one? Probably not, but at the end of the day, nobody cares that I stretched myself almost to the breaking point, and I am envious that he is in a loving relationship while I am not.
I am proud of what I’ve done but, going forward, I hope to make peace with my all-too-human limitations and to become okay with a smaller life.