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Does Anyone Get Off Easy?

There’s a former colleague of mine in the film industry who seems to sail through life. In the 20 years that I’ve been acquainted with him, he has consistently worked for companies producing top-rated films, even winning a few Oscars. He lives in an enviable part of town in a cool mid-century house with lots of art, while also being committed to volunteer work. From my perspective, his life looks easy. But I’ve been around long enough to know that can’t be true.

Illustration by Marc Johns


12 comments for “Does Anyone Get Off Easy?”

  1. Petra says:

    Some people have the gift of making hard work look easy and their lives to seem charmed. We only see the end result, not the frantic phone calls, the sudden bolts of wakefulness at 2:30 AM, the holding of one’s breath waiting for a contract to be renewed. Your friend has probably experienced much of this.

    In some respects, though, we may appear to have charmed lives to others. I have a stable, reasonably well paying job (especially for the area in which I live), I own (outright as of a couple of months!) a house as a single woman, I had set of fascinating friends and a lovely social life. But on the outside, no one sees the financial sacrifices made, the decision to go to college as an older student, the loneliness I experienced for a number of years, the outreach I’ve made to others as I worked to grow a core of caring, strong relationships. Sure, there is some luck involved–no question about it! But there’s also behind the scenes work. I suspect that the same holds true for your friend.

    Good weekend, Wendy!

  2. Gigi says:

    Here is a quote that I read over and over when I was getting divorced and felt overwhelmed with life.

    “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not our circumstances”. Martha Washington

    It gave me the choice to look at the ending of my marriage as a new and happy beginning or as miserable experience. It seemed like an easy choice to me.

    • wendy says:

      Ah, the wisdom of our foremothers. Here’s a quote which has given me solace in my single life from Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the first women’s rights activists, written in 1848:

      “Whatever the theories may be of woman’s dependence on man, in the supreme moments of her life, he cannot bear her burdens. In the tragedies and triumphs of human experience, each mortal stands alone.”

  3. Gigi says:

    I believe it’s great to have an inspirational quote to go to when times are tough.

    These women were incredibly bright and way ahead of their times.

  4. Mark says:

    Hi Wendy – Are most of the people posting comments to your blog single?

    I ask only because I am sort of searching for a community of single people who understand what it’s like.

    I’m a 56 year old man, no kids, divorced long ago. Strangely enough, it only recently hit me that I will never have a family. Moreover, that I will likely continue to be single for the remainder of my life because, well, I don’t think I have the motivation to keep trying.

    I am really struggling with this realization. The thoughts run from practical matters, like how I will manage old age alone. To soul searching and realizing that, on way or another, I created my life. It isn’t just “bad luck.”

    My sense is that women in general are better at building community, single or not, than men are. So, now that I sort of woke up to a reality I was long denying, I am now pretty worried.

    I found your blog after reading the article that featured you in WaPo. I have to say that I admire how you have found solutions to so many aspects of being single.

    This is the first time I have reached out to search for people in my circumstance. So I wrote a lot I guess because there is some joy in finding that I am not the only one.

    • wendy says:

      It’s great to hear from you Mark, and I’m really glad you reached out. I can’t say for sure about the marital status of FPS readers. But no matter whether they’re married or single, I’m grateful for them. Being single for so long has inspired me to reinterpret the word, “family,” and so I look for that in all kinds of places, even here. One thing about motivation (and I say this, in part as a Career Coach). Just because you don’t feel motivated to keep trying today, doesn’t mean you won’t be motivated tomorrow. In any case, please hang out with us!!

      • Wendy says:

        The topic of motivation is interesting. I have been grappling with the sense that I don’t have a purpose. Like, being single and just taking care of myself leaves me without a higher purpose. For example, my career is at a crossroads, so now I need to find a new job after 21 years in one that was rewarding and fairly lucrative. (Funny that I bring this up and you are a career coach). It’s a big change, not easy. I worry I don’t have the motivation I once did to push through.

        Then I think, well, I need to keep building my retirement funds. I can’t just dive into them at this age. And THEN I wonder, “What the hell am I going to retire to?”

        Thanks for inviting me to hang out. I will!! I’m really very happy I found your blog. I have been feeling very much alone and “strange” about my single status. Now I see I am not alone – there are others.

      • Mark says:

        Hi Wendy, thanks for inviting me to hang out. I am glad you have this blog and that you and your readers are here.

        Reinterpreting the word “family” seems like a good idea.

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