Some interesting experiences this week.
I attended an event where I met a woman from Portland who has been living in Los Angeles for about three years. I’d guess she is in her thirties. She isn’t crazy about her job, she just broke up with her boyfriend and dreads reentering the L.A. dating scene, she feels like she barely sees her friends because they all live far from her, and she has no family here. She’s considering moving to an area of the country where she has family but fears she’ll miss the stellar music acts she enjoys seeing in L.A. easily and cheaply.
I told her what she is going through is perfectly normal, and I just went through it. She was visibly relieved, as was I to be reminded again that the pluses and minuses of living in a city this size are experienced by all of us transplants.
I met a man at this same event who got his degree just a couple of years before me but is now head of a huge organization. He’s gay and has a partner. It made me wonder that if I hadn’t spent a great deal of my twenties and thirties distracted and depressed by the idea that I should be getting married and having kids, as well as not taking my career seriously because I assumed I eventually would do so, I’d be in his position now. He methodically climbed the ladder while I questioned my career and choices and journeyed down several blind alleys. Yet I don’t regret my forays into living abroad, other career paths, and the private sector. I would probably always wonder if I hadn’t travelled those paths.
Finally, when I first started writing this blog I mentioned my envy of a woman I know, someone who got a pricey arts education, dropped out of working in the field after a year because she didn’t like the politics, married a man from a wealthy family and had several children, and then after decades of not working got written up for some artwork she’d done in a studio in her house. I think it’s pretty common for women who’ve been supporting themselves for decades to feel irked by the dilettantism of wealthy wives. At that point in particular I felt like I’d been toiling in the understaffed, unappreciated trenches for far too long.
Recently this woman’s artwork came up again, and this time I was able to shrug it off. So she’s dabbling and putting some pieces in shows like a million other artists. I could do the same but have little incentive to do so, as I already earn a living and have derived self-esteem from having a career and supporting myself. When I do creative projects, they are just for my enjoyment. I don’t need to sell anything, and I don’t have anything more to prove.
“I met a man at this same event who got his degree just a couple of years before me but is now head of a huge organization. He’s gay and has a partner.”
It’s very difficult to make it to the top “of a huge organization” without the loyal and dedicated support of a wife freeing you from distractions. He has one, you don’t.
“I’d be in his position now”
but you are (in your field) and are actively planning a retirement from it.
Is it that you had options to work in a different field and didn’t take them or that the prestige of being the head appeals but the reality doesn’t?
He’s in my same field but there are small systems and then there are large systems… kinda like small business vs. large business. I never previously wanted to head a large system– or even a small one!– but some of that was related to thinking my bigger priority was marriage and kids. OTOH, I had other priorities as well (hobbies, living abroad, etc.) and am happy I was able to pursue those. So, complicated feelings…
I think you spend too much time looking back and mulling over the what if.
Question – did you make any real life friends out of the GW forum?
Yes, I have met up with some.
It’s not really “what if” as much as “what’s next?” Like, right now I think I want to retire early, but seeing that guy in that top job gives me pause… as in, should I become more ambitious instead? Probably not my path but you never know where life takes you.
ah … this is the sentence that was missing above,
“but seeing that guy in that top job gives me pause… as in, should I become more ambitious instead”.
without it the above reads retrospectively.
i mean, i’ve never met you, so only know fragments of what you’re about and looking for through your blog posts but i don’t think getting the life you want, whatever that is, should be that difficult for a single, solvent woman with brains and already good prospects. that’s not me taking a dig, just venting my frustration at what i read, which is as said, only fragments, so what do i really know.
Well, that’s a hard definition, “the life you want.” I’m happy with the life I have now. Is it my dream life? No, but I live in reality, so know things overall are pretty good now. The only thing that seems like it should be easier to find and not such a “dream” is a good relationship. But I’ve decided that for a variety of reasons, including perhaps some bad luck/ fate, that one is just not for me.
I do think I should be cut a little slack emotionally for the massive geographic, emotional, and career-related upheavals I’ve been through in the past year.
“I’m happy with the life I have now.”
oh right. well, that’s great to hear.
sorry, i didn’t get that impression from your posts on friendship, social life, work etc but am glad to be corrected.
Well, I’m a little confused. I mean, overall I’m pretty happy with the way I was able to rescue the past year, but the whole experience has not been without its challenges, as does being this age and being single/ childless.
I could just post some stellar photos of the beach with the tag “life is sweet,” but there’s already a forum for that kind of whitewashing… it’s called Facebook! I might as well just end the blog then.
I will suggest if you are interested in blogs that concentrate more on the positive aspects of being single, I would try firstpersonsingular.org or sashacagen.com.
Thanks for the link to Quirkyalone. I’ve had a look and I think I’ve found my spiritual home 🙂
It’s good to know it’s not just me but that there are other people just like me out there. Obviously I like reading your blog but have never felt the sadness that some boyfriend – less women feel, and in fact encountered down right hostility from some women for not feeling the same way that they do e.g. I’m unnatural, or pretending, but low and behold a whole website devoted to us!
I like her website as well and recommend her book.
‘Lo’ obviously not ‘low’