Last week I caught up with a college friend I haven’t seen in years and the last time I saw her before that was many more. We had plenty to talk about and at one point she asked if my life had turned out like I had expected. While it’s hard to sum up a life as I reflected on some of the "major milestones”, I thought about other friends wagering in the latter part of college I would be one of the first to be married. No wife, no kids and no corporate track job pretty much makes me 0-3 on things I might’ve guessed at the time.
In a world where more and more of my friends are coupled up and increasingly often parents, it can be a bit lonely at moments being on my own. Finding an interesting someone feels a great step but when I reflect on if I wish that would’ve already happened my gut reaction is no. I like the person I have become, the friendships I have cultivated and the experiences I have taken in. Knowing from my own experiences and the host of friends who are now married and parents, I see the wonderful upsides that comes from it all and yet how much of one self needs to be backburnered to make space for the other person. This isn’t to say I am unprepared to do so only that I can only fathom who I would be if the course I’d been on prior to this had been altered.
Over the weekend something brought to mind the musician Jamie Cullum, who I used to listen to often. His song Photograph came on and one of the lines in it struck a chord, “When I look back at my ordinary life, I see so much magic though I missed it at the time”.
In the past ten days alone I’ve hosted a cocktail class, cooked dinner for friends, attended a pizza party to celebrate four months post my jaw surgery and partook in the Cherokee Street Jazz Crawl. These are all little things and yet when I look back on them it’s interesting to realize this is the life I’ve built for myself.
There are certainly moments when I wish there are facets of life I wish like hell would show up already but it’s hard for me to imagine giving up any one of these for something else.
In his book The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship, David Whyte talks the discovery and balance between these three things in a life. The signals we receive from society can often focus and push us so much towards relationship and work that I think we can often miss the self.
Feeling lonely is a hell of a thing but I can’t help but remember the words of relationship psychologist Ester Perrel, “the most exciting thing people typically discover when having an affair is themselves”. I’m not promoting affairs simply that when I step back I am grateful for all the time I have had to discover myself and what I might want from this life other than the things I feel compelled to do.