The woman sitting across from me in the basement of memorial has a story. So does the guy upstairs in line for a bagel and coffee. Even my organic chemistry professor from last semester has a story, and they are all completely different from my own. It’s really easy for me to sit here and realize that these strangers have unique experiences and lives that make them who they are and be able to appreciate our differences, but when I get around friends I tend to really struggle with that. When I am around people with similar interests, I start comparing myself and where I am in my story to where they are in theirs. I have friends who are living across the country, getting engaged, married, accepting incredible internships, learning multiple languages, etc. etc. etc. A lot of times it feels like I’m getting left behind.
I was talking with one of my friends over winter break, and she pointed out that all through grade school, we have major life events happen around the same time; we get our ears pierced in elementary school, start driving around 15, have our first real relationships sometime in high school, and go to prom junior or senior year. We get through school in 4 years and graduate with the same group of people as we went in with. Even when big events don’t happen at the same time, they’re usually in the same time frame. After high school, our significant events start spreading way out. We no longer get through school at the same time or pace; certain undergrads will graduate a semester early, whereas I’m going to struggle to get my degree in 4 years, and some will take an extra year. Others aren’t even in school and are doing something completely different with their lives. Some kids my age are married, and others are barely dating at all. We are no longer able to compare ourselves to each other to determine how we’re doing, which can be both beneficial and extremely frustrating.
My story is different from the woman sitting across from me. It’s different from my friends from high school and the girls in my small group. I don’t even know what I’m going to eat for lunch, so how on earth would it be fair to compare my life and my decisions to those around me? I’m trying to love my story for what it is; I’m trying to embrace being open to lots of possibilities for my future, and enjoy this time where I can live without being attached to someone else. However, I also want to celebrate that other people have entirely different, sometimes huge, things going on. It can be hard to not get jealous of the accomplishments and exciting times of other people, but those times will hopefully come for me too one day. Some people have plot twists a lot earlier in the book, but I’ve always been a fan of them at the end.