When my best friend and her husband tied the knot three years ago, I stood by her side as one of her bridesmaids. I was genuinely happy for her and the new chapter in life she was beginning. But I was also really, really sad I wasn’t anywhere close to getting married myself.
My feelings of discontent seem a little ridiculous now. I was barely out of my teen years, just beginning to figure out who I was. In my defense, I grew up thinking really young marriages were the norm. If I wasn’t hitched by 21, then I thought I was obviously doing something wrong. In my eyes at the time, my best friend was living the dream. And she and her new husband were about to go live happily ever after and leave me to wallow in my singleness.
My best friend and I recently went on a long road trip together. We had twelve uninterrupted hours in the car by ourselves for a much needed catch-up session. I don’t remember how the topic came up, but at one point she looked at me with frantic eyes and asked, half-jokingly “Who let me get married at 21?!”
“Uhh … you?” I said in response with an awkward laugh.
“Seriously,” she went on, “I was a child! I was barely my own person yet, and then I decided to add a whole other person to the mix! Crazy.”
She clarified she didn’t wish she wasn’t married. She loves her husband and is thankful for the path she’s chosen with him. But she revealed she is often jealous of the amount of freedom I have—to be who I want to be without worrying if my husband likes it or gets along with the person I’m becoming. She pointed out that I can pick up and move if I want, choose a career path with only my financial needs in mind, and do pretty much what I want without first consulting someone else’s plans.
I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe that a married person could be jealous of a single person!
I don’t think I had ever viewed my singleness in such a positive light. I figured I was the only one who felt the occasional twinge of jealousy. As it turns out, my married friends also get that feeling of discontent from time to time, wondering what it would be like to still be single like me. We both laugh about it now, but that conversation was a big eye opener for me. Instead of worrying about when it will be my turn to walk down the aisle, I’m starting to appreciate my current state of life.
I guess no matter where you are, the grass is always going to look just a little bit greener on the other side. But each of us needs to be content and present wherever it is that we’re currently planted. If we stopped focusing so much on what we imagine other people’s lives are like, maybe we would be able to open our eyes to the joys waiting to be found in our own stories.