How to be happy for your engaged friends
Text: Denise Ngo
Photos: Getty Images
Not long ago, you could pull up Facebook on New Year’s Day knowing exactly what awaited you: photos of your classmates getting hammered at the club, status updates proclaiming hilariously idealistic resolutions, and wall posts written by people who were still recovering from the night before. It was gloriously entertaining. There was nothing quite like starting the year feeling smug. But against all odds, your friends got their act together. Wedding announcements began populating your News Feed. And in an embarrassing reversal of fortunes, while your acquaintances continue getting engaged over the holidays, you’re spending New Year’s Day guzzling leftover champagne while scrolling past their engagement photos.
You feel guilty for wallowing. You’re not the type of person who devotes the first day of the year to stalking, but your ex-colleague put up an album full of engagement photos taken on the Brooklyn Bridge, with participants holding up a rainbow of signs spelling “WILL YOU MARRY ME?”, and you are powerless to resist.
No matter how much you insist that singleness is underrated, that you don’t need a man, that it’s not the right time, or that 2013 will be your year, seeing engagement photos makes you feel like you’re missing out on something. It’s like gym class all over again, where the team captain picks you last because you’re the worst at sports, except this time the arena is marriage and the team captain is the cosmic force in charge of our love lives.
It’s not unusual to feel this way, especially if your exes and frenemies beat you to the altar. Even studies done at Cornell and at Stanford have found that Facebook usage contributes to angst because looking at other people’s photos makes you believe that they are happier than you are.
And deep inside, you know that the solution to your problems isn’t a man-friend. It’s the elusive ability to feel happy for other people’s good fortune. Why is it so hard? When did you get so petty? Is it possible to take their announcements as signs of what’s to come in your own life, rather than evidence of what you’re lacking?
From experience, yeah, it is. But first, you have to be forgiving – of yourself, for being vulnerable to self-pity; of your exes, for finding someone before you did; and of time and opportunity for making you wait your turn.