It was raining in New Zealand the day one of my closest friends got engaged. I was also currently living at a hostel called Rainbow Lodge. Those two details are the only background info you need for the rest of this story.
I had spent the stormy day working a random job with a man named Jeff in his food truck, selling mussel fritters and prawn skewers and the odd can of soda. It was weirdly fun. His father had started this food truck thirty-five years ago, and since then it had become borderline legendary in NZ. Business was booming and people were friendly and I had quickly mastered the NZ EFTPOS payment system.
The rain let up as soon as I left the food truck en route home, leaving sunshine spilling through the clouds and leaving me on a life high, feeling so appreciative of my weirdly wonderful day. And in my blissful state I started feeling really creative and motivated about using the current weather situation as inspiration for some ‘rainbow’ visuals we could utilize for the hostel Instagram account. Excited about creating some badass Insta content, I sprawled out on the floor with my markers and paper and a vision of drawing the perfect rainbow.
And then out of the blue, my phone rang. It was one of my closest friends calling to tell me she just got engaged.
“OH MY GOSH,” I exclaimed, tears immediately popping into my eyeballs as I scrambled up off the floor. “I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU!”
And I was! You could literally feel her over-the-moon excitement oozing through the other side of the phone, and it was so lovely and I felt so happy and warm that my wonderful friend was this happy.
She gave me all the deets – about the setting and the ring and how surprised she was – and I loved them all and it was so nice to listen to. And then she asked what I was doing.
“Oh, you know,” I said. “Colouring a rainbow.”
And just like that, I came hurtling down from my food-truck-life-is-beautiful high. My friend just got engaged to the love of her life in a champagne-covered sunset and I was lying on a wet porch in my sweaty “Mussle Madness” t-shirt drawing a fucking rainbow.
Suddenly, the tears in my eyeballs were for a totally different reason.
We wrapped up our convo shortly after because she obviously had a billion other people who were waiting to share their congrats, so I told her how much I loved her and hung up the phone. And then I sat there, wondering what was more pathetic: the ugly rainbow I had just drawn, or my life in general.
And I am so ashamed that this was the case; that this was how I felt in that moment. That my friend’s wonderful engagement became so horribly clouded by my own insecurities. But it did! In that moment I stopped feeling overwhelmed with joy and instead felt overwhelmed with the fact that I was such a loser.
So I talked it out with someone. I told them my friend was busy getting engaged while I was busy colouring. And after our laughter around this juxtaposition died down, their response was that they would much rather be drawing a rainbow than getting married right now. We are young! We are free! What’s the rush? And the conversation slowly morphed into that: talking about how much better our own situation was; how we would hate to be settled.
But like, what the fuck? Why does one have to be the better option? It’s like we’ve become obsessed with pinning these two options against each other: those who settle down vs. those who don’t. Which is better or worse? Who is doing it “right?” And it’s simply (in my opinion) because we’re all so damn insecure about the choices we’ve made and the places we’re at.
But maybe it’s actually okay to struggle with this. Maybe there’s no way to get over it. Maybe it’s okay to not always be strong and independent and embrace the live-your-own-life mentality. Maybe we need to feel vulnerable and have low points simply because it makes us better people. It helps us to sympathize and understand each other and treat each other better as humans – because we know what it’s like to feel like shit. And it isn’t fun. And instead of putting others down to make ourselves feel better, eventually we will learn to do the opposite. To celebrate everyone at his or her stage regardless of where we are at – because ultimately, there is zero correlation. Your life stage isn’t a reflection of mine. It’s not a bar that’s been set that I’m either sitting below or above. It’s simply a life you’re living while I’m living mine.
And that’s actually pretty fucking cool: we can all have totally different lives yet continue to coexist and share bottles of wine and bond over random TV shows. Sometimes our differences bring us closer together, introduce us to new sides of people that we can learn new things from, and open us up to experiences we’d never have otherwise.
So yeah, my friend got engaged and because of it, I got a little sad about my own life. And I think that will probably keep happening from time to time. But maybe that’s okay. I think we’re allowed to listen to our insecurities sometimes – and that doesn’t make us bad people. It doesn’t diminish how genuinely happy we are for the people we love who are making their big life announcements. It simply means that we are humans whose weaknesses are winning right now. And I think giving into them makes us stronger in the long run.
So be insecure. Feel sad and lost and vulnerable, and then move on. Know that life is good and that we all deserve to be over the fucking the moon about wherever we happen to be.
Sometimes our friends will get engaged while we’re busy drawing rainbows. And that’s fine. It simply means we spent our day just a tad differently. And these differences are what keep life colourful. So celebrate each other! BE the rainbow for everyone else instead of drawing it.
K. I’m actually so proud of that little analogy.