July 20, 2011

Please Pass the Humble Pie

Today, an old classmate of mine texted me, asking if I would be attending a gala dinner thrown by the fine folks in my old department in university. Honestly, I'm not too keen on attending. I don't really practice the area of engineering that I studied, and I'm not exactly close to my former classmates. A big gala dinner just seemed awkward. Still, he sent me the URL containing information on the festivities, and out of sheer curiosity, I checked out the site.

It's a neat little site. Alumni can share their class memories, post class pictures, and submit profiles of fellow students. One of my classmates posted a picture from the day we got our iron rings on the site. My face was rounder and smilier, it seemed. I guess 10 years does that to you.

When I got to the profiles page, I frowned. I was confronted face-to-face with an old frenemy. This girl was the epitome of perfection. In high school, she was a model. She was one of the top students in our class. She won this big swanky engineering award at graduation. She went on to med school after engineering, and is now practicing medicine in the US. In a fancy hospital. Of course. It was no surprise that she'd be profiled on this page.

Out of frustration, I IMed a former co-worker of mine who graduated from the same program last year. I complained that I would never get profiled on this thing. After all, what did I accomplish in the 10 years since graduating from university? I complained that my arch-nemesis was profiled. As I typed the words, they began to look ridiculous. Childish, even. I sounded like a jealous brat. Her response to me was, "If you want to be profiled, you should become an MP" (one of the people profiled there was an MP). I don't know if she was being sarcastic or what. Normally I'd be pissed by such a comment. But not today. I realized that I was sounding like a spoiled brat. I was suddenly deeply embarrassed by what I wrote. Especially when she asked me why I considered this girl to be an arch-nemesis. I had nothing concrete to go by.

Then it hit me. I was sounding jealous of this girl. But why? I have no desire to be a doctor. Nor do I have the desire to move to the States. She didn't have the life that I wanted. I have the life that I want. And I am living it now. But instead of living it, I was sitting there, being jealous of someone's life that I didn't even want, because they had been profiled on some Web site. Because by having their profile on this site, they suddenly became important. Which of course is silly. We may not all be world-famous important. We may not all win the Nobel Peace Prize, become Prime Minister, come up with a brilliant scientific breakthrough, or even become CEO of some company. I am important in my own way. I am important to my family. I am important to my friends. Heck, I'm even important to my co-workers (at least as far as the work I do goes). That counts for something. Even if it doesn't end up on a fancy profile page.

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