I have never felt like I was on the same life path as the rest of my peers. Growing up the daughter of a teacher turned principal, I was certainly never going to be the kid who everyone wanted to hang out with. My family also moved quite a few times during my youth, and those being pre-email and instant message times, the few friendships I did make were usually short-lived. The few attempts I've made at romantic relationships have never been successful and/or healthy and the older I get, the slimmer the pickings seem to be. Always one to be independent, be it due to nature or nurture, I've never been a person who excelled in relationships or socialization.
Already someone whose life-long independence has spawned many feelings of loneliness, I've gone through my nearly 30 years of life watching others around me be successful at exactly the things in life that I have not been. The years post-college started the "bridesmaid" years where my friends all seemed to get married en masse. In recent years even my sister, younger than me by 8 years, got engaged (though it was subsequently called off). Though I am, of course, happy for the love that my friends and family have found with their partners, the happy times also stir up some ugly self-reflection and questioning of "what is so wrong with me that nobody wants to love me?". I hate that I can't be selfless in these moments and not have the happiness of others link to my own inadequacies.
Now it's on to a new phase. The "marrieds" are spawning and my email inbox is flooded with sonogram photos, birth announcements and first birthday party invites. The gap between me and my friends on the path of life is widening and I can't even see them in the distance any more. The people I care about most in the world are creating their own beautiful families and I'm still the girl in the corner at a junior high dance chewing on her hair. My support system has done what you are supposed to do, grow up, find someone who walk the path of life with and, if the two of you choose, have children. I certainly don't fault them for having new lives and a shift in priorities, but I can't help but selfishly feel abandoned and even jealous that they all have managed to do something I have repeatedly failed at.
I don't want to be someone who can't be happy for other people, or who finds that the happiness of others causes pain, but I fell that is slowly who I am turning into. I have a constant internal struggle between relationships I desire to have and my inherent belief that I am just not capable of, or built for, love and cohabitation. I know I need to accept that it's ok if I am alone and develop my own life, outside of the pressures of society (and my mother) to "settle down" in traditional ways, but I don't know how to do that when everyone else around me is traveling down the same path together and I'm far behind waving to them in the distance.