On not freaking out when all your friends are getting engaged or having babies
I’m a few short years away from turning 30, and it seems I’ve entered the time span where all my Facebook feed seems to be dominated by is posts about engagements, weddings and babies. It has been like this for probably a year or more, but wasn’t so apparent until a few months ago when at least 5 or 6 people got engaged within about a 2 week period.
With this, I’ve come to realize that I’m not that close to contributing to Facebook feeds of my friends in this fashion, and I’m ok with that. I’m better than ok; I’m pretty good! My life is not devoid of happy events and especially not jewelry which I don’t care to wear. I’m in no way less “complete” and don’t feel like I’m “behind” in any way. Life events aren’t necessarily following a particular sequence (except for getting older and other time related phenomena).
Everyone has their own timeline and path to follow and I shouldn’t feel bothered by it (and neither should they!). It does seem to get a little trickier when your closest friends are doing something different at this point in their lives and therefore have a different perspective or set of priorities. Ok, sure, my biological clock is ticking and I’m not getting younger. But that doesn’t mean that the earth quakes beneath my feet every time I see an engagement post or a baby photo. I also don’t have to resent others for their “progress” in life because I have my own small victories to celebrate.
To remain friends though, it does take some adjustment and understanding. People might joke about being the last single person in their circle of friends, or about how a certain couple has disappeared since the birth of their child. I wouldn’t say that making jokes is the best way to deal with it, but I think friendships can either make the adjustment or people just change and get on with life in their own ways. Being aware of the changes, though, and not becoming resentful of each other, would probably be key to keeping the friendship afloat.
This phrase is a cliche, but the grass is always greener on the other side. We will always notice the great things about other people’s lives that we wish we could have, and easily forget all the great things about our own lives that other people would envy us for. I think of this as somewhat related to loss aversion, which is a term that means we feel a negative emotional pull when we think we’ve lost something or lost an opportunity. This emotion is sometimes more powerful than the positive feelings we would get from gaining something or an opportunity. Loss aversion makes us want to avoid a loss (sometimes at high costs), whether it is a real loss or one that we have created in our minds.
I think it is pretty normal to feel this way about lost opportunities. Time is a strange thing, and as we get older we may start feeling like we are losing time. This activates loss aversion and makes us question whether we are making the right choices, and is hard to remedy because we don’t have control over time (yet?). So, it might be a losing battle from now on. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t deal with the affects of time related loss aversion. We can embrace it, and try to handle it in small ways on a daily basis.
Tips to deal with the deluge
A few tips I think that will help someone like myself who is bombarded daily on Facebook:
- Remind yourself that that is their life, not yours. Would you trade your life for theirs? I hope not! You have your own stuff going on, and you should be enjoying life in your way.
- Most people won’t post about the bad stuff in their lives. You are seeing a subset of what is going on in their lives, just like for your own life you have some good stuff and some bad stuff.
- If you really want to get married and/or have a baby, you can. If you really do find that you want those things, you can take steps in that direction. I won’t pretend to give advice on your love life, but there is always online dating and adoption.
- Your engaged and childful friends may be jealous of you in some way. You may be single and childless, but maybe you have a great job or you’re going to graduate school or you are traveling to places you’ve always wanted to go to. Don’t feel bad about filling their Facebook feeds about how wonderful you have it too!
So…of course when I see those baby photos on Facebook, I know my time window for having babies is slowly diminishing. But I also know I’m not ready to have a baby. I remind myself this, and also remind myself that I have plenty more time left to do the stuff I want to do. Chill, it isn’t worth freaking out over.
I can cope
The irrational (or hormonal) part of me is shouting, “Look at what you are missing out on! You should be doing that!” That little voice is hard to keep quiet, and it only gets worse if you actually have family members (or other friends!) who say those things to you out loud. Find your own way to shut out those voices and believe that you have no reason to freak out and you don’t have to explain your own status when all your friends are getting married and whatnot.