After this morning's radio gig, I met up with Jen, one of my classmates. She lives a few towns over, and through the magic of Facebook, we started Inter-stalking each other again within the last year.
Her story reminds me a little of my own, in that we weren't working in radio for very long before we realized how shitty that business is. I think we already knew, technically, but had to find out for ourselves. Sure, we went to school with a lot of people who just weren't well suited to the business, but I'm astounded by the number who rocked out and quickly chose to get the hell out.
We made different choices after that, and she started her family in what I think just might be the ideal age range, in the late 20's. At that point, you're not a stupid kid anymore, but you're also not going to see your kids off at the age you're thinking about retirement. She also managed to eventually settle into part-time work so she can be with her family as well.
Her story is different from most of the others that I've heard in reconnecting with folks the past year or two, but the thing she has in common with everyone else is that she's made life work in a way that's ideal for her. For as much as I second-guess my own life and choices (maybe not second-guess, since I wouldn't change anything, but definitely wonder about an alternate reality), I'm starting to see that infinite possibilities that might have come out of different choices are all OK if you're happy. It's not that our standards of measurement for "good" life get more relaxed or have lower standards over time, it's that the future we could not and would not imagine is actually a pretty good fucking way to go. Kids, new partners and career changes all contribute to this.
There's a lot of comfort in knowing that the journey other people take, even if it is radically different from your own (and the one they expected to take), is actually more similar than you think.