I went out to dinner with a friend from high school the other night. She married a man that had been head over heels her since they were 14. They now have two adorable kids and a brand new house in the town we grew up in. She is a successful oncology PA and he is a CPA. They both do very well and are happy, but, get this- she feels like a failure.
Her words not mine.
She has a man who loves her deeply, two wonderful kids, a great job, a big new house in the suburbs and yet still feels like a failure. This boggles my freaking mind. I asked how it was possible that she could feel so negatively about her life and this is what she said, “I am not sure where I thought I would be by this age, but this isn’t what I thought my life would look like.”
She never thought she would end up back in her home town, a mile from her parents house with kids that would be attending the same elementary school she did. She had a ten year plan and never thought she would slow her career mid-stream to stay home with her kids. She definitely didn’t think she would have resigned to the suburbs so quickly. She had this vision of living in the cool, fancy (read rich doctors close to medical center, great schools and restaurants) area of town, pushing a stroller to a downtown festival on the weekends.
I was shocked. Stunned.
Here I am 33, nearly divorced, 2 kids, job hunting and moving back into my childhood home thinking I am the one that failed. We even said the same sentence:
Do you ever feel like you failed?”
Jinx. You owe me a margarita.
Two completely different paths have brought us both back to the same geographical location and somehow we both see ourselves as failures. This fascinates me.
I have often remarked how we are so much more alike than different. We all have similar fears and hopes. We all have struggles and pain. We all are striving for something that we cannot quite reach. We all have vices. We all have demons that we are trying to quiet. Yet, here I am with a good friend, who seems to have her shit together, and she too feels like a failure.
I think we get so caught up on other people’s Facebook lives and want that. We want the adorable kids in oversized bows and matching outfits. We want the gigantic new build with a Tahoe in the driveway. We want fabulous date nights with a handsome spouse and beach vacations with cabanas and fruity drinks. We want. We want. We want. We want this made-up image in our head. An image that we may never truly be able to define. An image of perfection that we will not be able to obtain- mainly because it’s not real. I know this because I love people. I love to get to know people. I like to know what makes them tick and what makes them happy. I hear from people all the time about their own struggles with marriage or depression or raising children. It’s hard. Life is hard and unexpected in its twists and nothing turns out quite like we want it to. But that’s okay, it’s the journey that brings us to someplace we didn’t know existed. We reach a distant land with opportunities we didn’t know we were missing out on. I feel like we are so busy planning and plotting that we miss the journey while waiting for the next destination.
I followed the path. I graduated college, got married, brought a house, had kids…I followed the fucking path and it got shot to hell. I played by the rules and I have nothing to show for it but anxiety attacks and a shitty failed marriage. But, I also two amazing kids and I am closer to my family and old friends that have known me for 20 years. That’s a different path than expected, for sure, but it’s been comforting. I am so happy to have friends I can meet me for dinner and explain how our perfect lives became such failures. It’s rare to have such honesty in our world today and I am so thankful that I made such amazing connections all those years ago. I may not have known why real, true and deep friendships would be so important, but now, I know why I work so hard to make and keep good people around me. Some day you may find yourself lonely, in the middle of a failed life, and need support from friends that understand you in a way that few people will. I am glad all those years ago I made smart decisions for the future me. Subconsciously we know what is truly important: family, deep friendships, love and grace. That’s all we need. The rest of the stuff is just a bonus.