It all started with plans to watch the premiere of the new season of Absolutely Fabulous, one of my all-time favorite television shows.
I had been trying to get my best friend hooked on the show for a couple years, and we had made plans to meet at my apartment for dinner and the show. But a few days before our night of bonding over dry British humor, the call came.
Unexpectedly, our plan was changed because one of our close friends from college was coming to town to take depositions in a big case she was working on and wanted to see us. And oh, by the way, she had big news. She had just found out that day that she was being made a partner in her law firm.
Now I know the standard response from a friend in this situation is supposed to sound something like, "Congratulations!" Or, "That is amazing. I am so happy for you."
While that was the outward response I gave, my true feelings were exactly the opposite.
You see, like many people, I have a group of friends that includes a few extremely goal-oriented achievers. As we settle into our collective early 30s, the time for major life milestones — making partner, buying the bigger house or apartment, welcoming the first child — is upon us.
For someone like me, whose life has been more of a series of changes in direction rather than one straight line in the direction of achievement, watching others hit those milestones right on time can feel quite defeating.
I frequently wonder what has kept me from being one of the people who has a clear idea of where his path in life is leading them. As regular readers of this column might remember, a little over three years ago I made a major change in the direction of my life by moving from Cincinnati to New York City to pursue a completely new career.
Of course, there is also the ultimate change of direction in my life — coming out a little over 10 years ago.
Don't get me wrong. Even on my down days, I know that these are some of the most positive changes I have made in my life. I am grateful for having made them.
But the more I pondered my embarrassing reaction to my friend's well-deserved good fortune, I realized I had let myself fall into a terrible trap. I had forgotten the excitement and rush of possibility that comes when we create a new beginning for ourselves.
Forgive me for getting touchy-feely and New Age on you. But hopefully even those of you who haven't had the experience of coming out can identify in some way with what I am talking about here.
This discussion seems very timely now that we have passed Thanksgiving and are on our way through the holiday season, preparing for the start of new year — the ultimate, annual new beginning.
Bitchy humor and back-stabbing are fun to watch on television. But it doesn't play so well in real life. So if, like me, you feel yourself creeping in that direction this season, take a moment to step back and realize that any day is a good day to get back to the basics of treating ourselves and others with love, compassion and respect.