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.