Many of my friends are doctors. A few of them have been experts on TV and the radio, some are scholars, real estate investors, business owners, professors, parents, therapists. Some are married or in committed relationships that they passionately fight for every day. They are bosses in every sense of the word. One walked on her campus, literally got a new job offered to her, and was in awe when she walked out. I, however, was not surprised. No haterade in my BPA-free water bottle, I was simply not surprised. She got something wonderful, which she deserved, because she is talented and worked hard for it. I am proud of my friends, not only as professionals, but as people. I am so happy that they are moving forward with their lives.
On my end, graduation season has come and gone and several of my colleagues have finished their PhDs, while I have not yet. They have approached these milestones that I think I should have arrived at ages ago. I love my friends and genuinely support them, but if I’m honest, watching everyone live their best lives has been difficult for me. But what humbles me is that my friends allow me to truly see them, their sacrifices, doubts, and secret hopes. We all have our insecurities… even the rock stars.
My high achieving bestie is consistent—unrelentingly steady. She wakes up early and gets more done by 12pm than many people do all day. So, when she was out of the door by 8am on Saturday, I saw why she’s kicking my butt in so many areas. She’s a beast. Yet later that day, she called me crying about being hurt and deeply disappointed by someone she trusted. Another woman dear to me, recently achieved MY life-long dream of doing pull-ups (G.I. Jane did it to me). No one sees the back brace she wears to her 2 full-time jobs before going to the gym and the utter exhaustion that ensues afterward. When we dwell on the pain of our unmaterialized goals, we often focus on our circle’s successes but tend to forget the fertility struggles, heartache, job loss, or delays they too may have experienced. While it is a privilege to witness the growth of such accomplished individuals, it is my distinct honor to hold space for them and allow them room to be human.
Sometimes we use our friends as our measuring sticks, reminding us not only of where we think we should be but also where we could be. Other times, they serve as our mirrors, showing us the truth of where we are and gently drawing us back into ourselves. It is often a matter of perspective. Your vantage point is limited to what you choose to see. A Sara Bareilles song asks how do you “capture the feeling that my earth is somebody’s ceiling.” Comparison is tricky that way. Your unruly hair day maybe your work wife’s hair goals. Your embarrassing unending pursuit of a dream may be the perseverance in you that your network admires. To those of us struggling in relation to our rock star friends, may I offer you this: excellence never quite settles into contentment. Growth thrives in acceptance, but not resignation. So, if your brilliant entourage is rocking with you, trust that they accept where you are in the process and are cheering on your progress. Their greatness gives you the freedom to glow up because after all, you are one of them. They see you in all your glory, just as you see them in theirs. The glare from your combined light does not dim how brightly either of you shines. Give in to your radiant self. Allow your friends to inspire you, put on some polarized shades, and enjoy the view.