I was talking to a colleague the other day (younger) who said that she just felt left out. Left out of everything, like she wasn’t keeping up. All of her friends were married, buying homes, and some starting to try for families.
Her? Still single, looking but nothing so far and she did not even have enough saved to consider putting a down payment on anything.
She sort of felt.. adrift. Like she was falling behind some magic milestones she didn’t know she was working towards.
I sort of listened but didn’t say anything — not my part and she didn’t ask for my opinion.
When I went home however, I thought about it some more and it sounded to me like The Joneses but at a younger level and these are her friends!
She was trying very hard to keep up with them in the sense that she felt excluded from these conversations — talks about things she didn’t yet have any input on such as planning a wedding, buying a home or how hard it was to try for a baby.
She couldn’t relate, and if she had any stake in any of the above, she would be able to but at this point, she is just listening. Feeling excluded from this club, not because she was inadequate but that she had no stake or interest in it.
I can understand that completely, and I could also imagine that it might make her want to pair up with someone ASAP and rush into a life she may not be financially or emotionally ready for, just so she could join in and be part of the pack again.
I wonder if these kinds of decisions drive people to buy homes they aren’t ready for, or at least to look (and then feel depressed that you can’t afford a million-dollar home without some parental assistance), or to overreach and buy a home really out of their price range because so-and-so bought a 3-bedroom place and a 1-bedroom apartment seems so small and dinky in comparison.
It made me think about who my Joneses were, and as I reviewed my friends.. I guess I never really felt the need to keep up with anyone, although when I started consulting, my one childhood friend remarked enviously that she considered my life traveling for work every week to be so glam.
(Spoiler alert: traveling for work is NOT fun or glam.)
I mean, you aren’t bringing bathing suits to hang on the beach if you know what I mean.
She only saw the “good” part of me being in another city, eating free food, staying in a hotel (I was Little Bun-free at the time) and as much as I tried to tell her it was not all amazing, she was clinging to the fantasy of just being away from her kids for a few days a week, which now as a young parent I can COMPLETELY relate to.
She missed the fact that traveling all the time is half about loneliness being in a hotel room, eating the same half-way decent meal at the same restaurant or with room service over and over again during the weeks or months even years you are there working.
Or the interminably long (and/or early) lines at the airport, the security, the motion sickness when on a plane, the delays and how dang exhausted you are coming in late Thursday night to have to go into the office on Friday and feel like your weekend is shot, just running errands and trying to recuperate.
I think this is the same with anyone you may envy or feel jealous of.
I know for instance a couple who recently bought an expensive house in an expensive city, and posted how they are basically tearing it down and building their dream home from scratch, basically doubling the space as I gathered.
It would take a year or two and I’m sure, cost a lot of pretty pennies.
I felt a twinge or something very briefly when I thought about having a dream home where you can choose how big the kitchen is and design your own closets but then I looked at the reality of their lives — two working full-time management consultant parents, traveling 100% of the time, with two nannies on payroll and basically working to the bone to pay for this lifestyle and the few days they get with their kids weekly.
It is exhausting.
And it is nice the first few weeks to be in a hotel room alone, without little hands pawing at you trying to ask you for things, but then you just feel like you’re missing out on life.
So would I want that dream home, glam travel lifestyle and schedule, and all these vacations they take yearly in exchange for long, LONG hours away from said dream home and kids?
Not by a long shot. Every dream has its price and I’m happy to not keep up with those Joneses because I know what it costs.