We are a culture driven by our want for more. More money, a higher career status, a prettier wife, a bigger house, bigger boobs, a faster car…
It’s like we are all just constantly comparing ourselves to other people. My generation seems to suffer from the “grass is always greener” complex and this results in us going right from college to grad school, having $10,000 dollars worth of credit card debt, a closet full of designer shoes we will never wear, and commitment phobias.
An old college friend contacted me yesterday and invited me to his book signing in July in NYC. He is 29, gorgeous, and moving to Scotland next fall to earn his PhD in English literature. When he told me about how a small, independent publishing company had published his book of poems, I immediately began seething. This person and I had had a couple of writing courses together and we were both part of the college’s poetry club. I had always thought he was a decent writer, but deep down, I knew I was better. This could have been attributed to the narcissistic tendencies I suffered from between the ages of 19 and 22, but my prose always seemed tighter while his were all over the place and very, very ambiguous. He never did the canon of poetry any justice.
I also remember a class I had with him my freshman year. It was a religion course and the professor was your typical new age-y, spiritual type who wore patchouli and preferred Raki to Advil. Half way through the semester, my friend just stopped showing up for class. He missed two consecutive weeks. When he returned, he told the professor he had been locked up in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Against all logic, the professor believed him and he ended up receiving an entire letter grade higher than me. Unbelievable.
My point is, this individual has achieved things that I can only dream of doing. He lived in China, got his MFA in New York City, has a published book, etc. etc. And every time I think about him, I get this angry ache deep down in the pit of my stomach.
Truth be told, I can probably accomplish all that he has done. He is four years my senior. Yet, there is this wall that I somehow cannot get over. It keeps me from doing everything that I want to do. I find myself making excuses to stay in Philly. There isn’t enough money, I love my friends, I have a good job… But when it gets right down to it, I don’t want to live here any longer than I have to. I need room to stretch my legs. I need an entirely new country before I turn thirty…
Life is not a dress rehearsal. You get one go around. Please, please, please do not let fear get in the way of your dreams. Do every little thing that you want to do and do them when you are still young. And never, ever compare yourself to other people. It’s easier said than done, trust me.