The other day I made the mistake of googling my old nemesis. She was the girl in school who was tall and thin and all the boys liked. She wasn’t particularly smart nor did she have a sparkling personality but in junior high? Those things do not matter. And I. . . I was the supporting actress in the side kick/friend role. The chubby, smart, everyone’s friend and therapist girl.
It was one of those friendships where one day she would be BFFs with me and the next day, ignore me. Like overnight as I did my homework and watched Family Ties and ate dinner with my family and talked on the phone with friends, she decided I wasn’t worth being friends with. This would go on for days as she’d buddy up with the other most popular girl and their posse of mean girls. Sometimes they would gang up on me for no reason. I’d sheepishly find someone else to eat lunch with and then they’d accost me. I remember one time she made a point of saying I was fat and that no one liked me because of it. As they were bullying me an older girl in a different class stood up for me. I took that moment to run to the bathroom where I stayed in the stall for the remainder of lunch period, crying.
She made many of my days hell. I hated her and simultaneously wanted to be her. When she would have a change of heart I would cautiously be nice back but like any abusive relationship, the honeymoon period inevitably ended. Even when 8th grade graduation came, I still secretly wanted her to accept me even though I was friends with almost everyone in my class. It was HER approval I wanted most. It’s sad that as young girls we experience firsthand the sometimes catty and cruel nature of female friendships, the way it feels to be rejected, and that our looks are oftentimes lauded as more important that our personalities, smarts or heart.
So anyway, I stupidly googled her. I discovered she has a different last name meaning she’s probably married. Then I read that she’s a fashion designer. In New York. THEN I saw a video of what had to be her- still lanky and a bit awkward wearing all black being interviewed about how she doesn’t like her feet. The interview is dumb and she sounds like she never did get any smarter but. . . I was still jealous. I started comparing myself to her. She’s still thin. I’m still fat. She’s married. I am not. She has a big, fancy career as a fashion designer. I work at a boring non-profit and I’m not even a manager or director (anymore). I shared this discovery with my friend & coworker RayLo and she said, “Her husband is probably cheating on her with one of her runway models. She’s very unhappy.” To which I added, “No! He’s cheating on her with one of her male runway models. Ah, I feel better.”
But of course, I didn’t really feel better. Thinking bad things about another person is not really the way I deal with things. It’s doesn’t actually make me feel any better, ever. So what if she seems to have a great life on paper. Is that how I want to measure success? Do I really want to equate happiness with appearances? Because I know plenty of people who on paper (or on blog, for example) appear to have it all made but that’s not the entire story. Just because she “seems” to have a fancier life than me doesn’t mean she’s better than me or happier than me or more successful than me. And who the hell cares? She’s just some girl who was a bitch to me 20+ years ago.
She is not the point. The point is: we all get to measure our own lives. . . but we shouldn’t be measuring success and happiness against other people or the version of other people they show the world. The best litmus test for personal success is to measure ourselves against our own dreams and desires. The way I see it, life is not a contest. If we live it that way, the only person we’re disappointing is ourselves.