December 16, 2014 — My best friend is beautiful; she has doe eyes and wild, curly hair. She is poised, thoughtful, and laughs at everything I say, which makes me think I'm funny, and is probably the reason I forced my friendship on her in the first place.
My best friend has a creative job in a fantastic city and a husband who loves her. She has a sun-drenched apartment and a tiny new cat. Soon she will also have a tiny new baby.
The two of us were college roommates in a city on the East Coast, not very far from where either of us grew up. In the final days before graduation, I craved a radical change—a coastal change. We were in our backyard when I looked at her and said, "I will go anywhere in California. You pick."
She paused and thought for a moment before flatly saying, "I'd go to San Francisco." It was like throwing a dart at a map.
A month later I met her in baggage claim at SFO; we had four suitcases and a little money, but no place to live, and no place to work. It was thrilling.
We both soon found jobs that would put a little money in our pockets, but neither of us had yet landed the type of career-track job you aspire to after a six-figure college education. The type of job you need to establish yourself in the hub of all things innovative. The type of job you need to start paying back student loans.
As for love, we both had fleeting romantic encounters, but nothing stuck. It was young-adulthood at its finest: new, and ripe with uncertainty.
Eventually, my best friend landed a freelance gig, which turned into a full-time career, which turned into a promotion (or two).
I twiddled my thumbs.
Eventually, my best friend re-connected with her ex-boyfriend, who moved to San Francisco, and one day proposed to her.
My eyes bulged.
In the midst of stumbling through the darkness to find myself (à la moving to California), I called my dad, my savior and my sage. His words to me were simple: "Stop comparing yourself."
In the age of social media, where only the highlights of people's lives make it onto my Facebook feed (engagements, weddings, and babies, oh my!), it's hard not to compare myself. It's easy to feel lost and inadequate in my post-collegiate years, fighting for a piece of whatever day-old pie is available while trying to escape the cycle of low-paying jobs, too-small apartments, and romantic dead ends.
As things continued to progress with upward momentum for my best friend, I packed my bags and moved back east.
I was acutely aware that the path I was on was not exactly what I had envisioned for myself. So I spent a rent-free year at my parents’, freelancing and teaching yoga—thanks, Mom and Dad!— until one day I packed my bags again and moved to New York City, landing a full-time, career-track job of my own (though the apartments here are admittedly less sun-drenched).
I find I am happiest in my current life not when I compare myself to others, but rather when I take stock of where I've been and plan for where I hope one day to be. I live in the wisdom of my father, knowing that I should keep going at my own pace, and that I am on my own path.
I love my best friend, and I’m happy for what life has brought her. But I like the view from my own path now, too.