Periodically, I get really hard on myself for being what I consider a pretty significant failure. At the very least, at 44, I am nowhere near where I assumed I'd be when I was 18-22. (I know, I know, who is, right?)
I look at high school friends who became doctors and lawyers and investment bankers. I look at college friends who have won Pulitzers or now work for national media outlets like ESPN (true in both cases). I look at my buddy Gregory (hi Mr. G, I know you read this :-), who decided what he wanted to do in high school and went straight through and did it, "it" involving the also-lengthy process of earning a doctorate -- I assure you, grad school is no picnic -- so that he could share his wonderfully compassionate and loving self with people in desperate need of same. And then I look at myself, and I feel like shit, because WOWZA did my life ever take some serious detours. Some of them have turned out to be wonderful and some have turned out to be disastrous, but in the end, I'm still at least a decade behind my peers, and I feel it acutely. But then I get reminded that you never really know what other people are contending with, no matter how good it looks for them on the outside.
There was this guy in high school who had friggin' EVERYTHING. He was totally gorgeous (and in fact made a fortune modeling while still in his teens), popular, etc, and the best part was that he not only didn't treat the outcasts like me like shit but had a genuine smile and kind word for all. I mean, I not only wasn't in his league, I wasn't even on the same planet. Most guys (and definitely most girls!) who had all that didn't know the people like me existed, or managed to stare right through me, if they saw me at all. But Bryan was always really nice to me.
Today I found out a bit of what became of him. The looks disappeared, I hear, which, you know, they generally do that. It's just a matter of earlier or later. The much, much sadder part was that he wound up doing prison time for aggravated assault, along with other stuff.
Whoda guessed? Not me. So I looked up the online court records. At one point he was found incompetent to stand trial, which means a bunch of shrinks found credible evidence of serious mental illness. He eventually took a deal that involved him pleading guilty to assorted charges.
A couple of years ago, someone else in kind of the same position -- cute, exceptionally kind, seemed to have it all -- also ended up in some seriously hot water. Difference is that this was someone I had been very close to for years. It blew me away to find out what had allegedly happened; to find out that his perfect life of overachievement actually wasn't all that perfect. His case *did* go to trial, and thankfully, he was acquitted on all counts and is rebuilding his life and his reputation. But to be slapped in the face with the reality that, even through all the problems he tried to help me with, he had his own, was difficult.
I skipped all my high school reunions for one reason or another. (The only valid excuse was for the 5th-year one, when I was 9 months pregnant and living in another state :-). At the 10-year, I had a crappy job and no degree as yet and couldn't face showing up and seeing how well everyone else was doing, looking at endless pictures of happy families, etc. At the 15-year, I was so disgusted with the way I look that I couldn't bear to show up and face what I was sure would be pointing and laughing behind my back. At the 20-year, I finally had a respectable job and education and was starting to make something of my life, but decided it was kind of pointless by then, as I hadn't been to any of the others.
By the 25th, we were all on Facebook and there was no reason to have an actual reunion. ;-) And guess what I found out? Most of us have a few (or many multiples of a few) extra pounds. Many of the guys I last saw with thick heads of hair no longer have same. Almost all of us have had some sort of trauma -- bad relationships, ugly divorces, kids with critical health issues, trouble with aging parents, etc etc etc. In other words -- even the people who looked like they were on an arrow-straight trajectory for perfect lives? They missed.
I long ago lost count of all the times I've been told how futile it is to compare myself to others. I wonder when I'll learn.
Now playing: The Beat - The Limits We Set