Social media is a blessing and a curse. Facebook is the only way that I know where half of my graduating high school class is, and it’s certainly the only way I will ever know many of their spouses and children (which is weird that I’ll know them at all). At the same time, it highlights how big life can be, and sometimes my life seems to shrink in the light of comparison.
When I see a friend announce the birth of a second (!) child, who they bring home to a happy sibling, a lovely house, and a dog, I flinch a little. It makes me feel so very young. I see friends making four times my salary, easily, and I wonder if I shouldn’t have done more investigation into high-paying degrees when I was in undergrad. Surely the stage of life I’m in—married, renting, no pets or kids—is where you are when you’re in your early twenties?
But then I work around undergraduate students. I hear their worries about grad school and immature relationships and it makes me feel so old. I have a career! I have a spouse! I know what I want (mostly) out of life! Surely I am at least twice their age.
It makes me a little nuts sometimes. Am I young? Am I old? Am I ahead? Am I behind? What if I’m not behind other people, but (and this is the most terrifying) behind who I could have been if I made different choices?
In the book “Prince Caspian,” the second work in the Chronicles of Narnia, the girl-queen-adventurer Lucy asks the lion Aslan that same question: what would have happened if she made a different choice?
“To know what would have happened, child?” said Aslan. “No. Nobody is ever told that.”
“Oh dear,” said Lucy.
“But anyone can find out what will happen,” said Aslan. “If you go back to the others now, and wake them up – what will happen? There is only one way of finding out.”
I am 28. No one can tell me what could have happened, but as to what will happen? There is only one way of finding out.
(With thanks to C.S. Lewis for writing one of the most fantastical and enduring works in the history of the English language.)