Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why living in DC gives me an inferiority complex

If you are a person who leads a relatively mediocre life, or who is prone to bouts of envy, might I suggest that attending a happy hour meetup of French speakers in the Washington, DC metro region may not be the best thing for you? Because everyone there is someone, and they are all doing cooler things than you. Case in point: the first conversation I had was with a twenty-something young woman who does international something and is traveling to Mali for work next week. Ok, not the best example; I missed a lot of details there.

But let's move on to conversation #2, which I had with a bubbly young industrial engineer with beginner French skills whose job sends her to France for 2-3 weeks out of every month. So, effectively, she splits her time between Paris, Nancy, and DC. Logistics aside, because I realize there are some serious downsides to that situation, which she was happy to enumerate for me, it still sounds like a pretty darn awesome opportunity for someone young enough to probably never have seen an episode of Seinfeld. "But oh, you can only work 35 hours a week there, at most, and how are you supposed to get any work done in only 35 hours? And oh, dating is so hard with this career; well, I do have a French boyfriend there, but he only speaks English to me," she lamented. I did my best to act sympathetic. I asked her if she had always wanted to do this, if foreign travel had always been part of her career plan. "Oh, no!" she enthused. "My boss just asked me if I wanted to, and...now I get paid to learn French and to travel!" Moving on.

Conversation #3 was with a leggy Rihanna lookalike who recently graduated from college, where she had played on the women's basketball team. Since graduating two months ago, she has been in DC working at the State Department. At the end of the summer she will move to Boston to attend a graduate program at Harvard. Her fellowship at Harvard will be entirely paid for by the Foreign Service, and at the end of the program, she will have a job with the Foreign Service. The very same Foreign Service, I should mention, whose entrance exam I recently failed. Yeah. That. Although, for all her apparent merits, this young prodigy did insist on informing me, multiple times, that Colgate University is located in Ithaca, New York, when in fact, I lived there, and it is not. I tried to gently correct her as to her error, telling her that actually, I lived there, and-- "No, Ithaca, New York," she interjected. "Er, yes, but," I said, "as I mentioned, I lived in Ithaca, and there are actually two colleges there: Ithaca College, and--" "Colgate," she interrupted again. "Cornell," I said, flatly. "Well," she said, waving her hand in the air, "somewhere around there." It was time for a new topic of conversation. 

"Are you married?" she asked. "Oh, no, I'm not," I said. "Oh. All my friends are getting married," she offered. "All your friends who just graduated from college?" I asked. "Yeah," she said. It was time to move on.

Conversation #4: You know things are bad when talking to a judge fails to impress you. Oh, you're a judge? Cool. What else you got?

Then I went home and thought about where exactly my life went wrong. The end.

20 comments:

  1. "Prone to bouts of envy." Ha. I love that line. This would be me in this scenario as well. Especially with pretty young girls who don't even CARE that what they are doing is awesome. It's weird how things just fall into the laps of some, isn't it?

    But then I think, if they're that flippant about it anyway, it doesn't hold any value for them. We, the deep thinkers and feelers and aspirers (hehe) would surely appreciate an opportunity like that; but they will never feel fulfilled in what they do, despite its glamor, and perhaps won't ever feel fulfilled in anything.

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  2. Yeah? Do THEY have vintage dresses and a cat? I didn't think so.

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    1. You are right, Dawn, those things are hard to come by. :P

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  3. Isn't Colgate in Maine? That is not even close to NY - I mean it's closer than say North Dakota.

    I'm definitely prone to bouts of envy. I don't trust people who aren't old enough to know about Seinfeld or have watched it.

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    1. I looked it up. Colgate is in New York state, as they say, "somewhere around there." (But definitely not in Ithaca.)

      And you're lucky, I'm pretty sure you juuuuust made the Seinfeld cut-off. :)

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    2. Ah, well there you go.

      Seinfeld was mandatory tv watching in my house (it was also the ONLY tv I was allowed to watch, that and friends :) ahhh, thursday nights on nbc...used to be soooo goood).

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  4. Ugh, yes. I'm prone to bouts of envy as well, and I usually end up with some serious rage face (behind the anonymity of my computer, normally).

    I want to be happy for other people's happiness and success, but I also want to be happy for my own at some point as well. I want to stop thinking I'll be happy "at some point" and just BE happy now.

    Envy is normal and it's human nature. And we can never really be sure we are getting the full story from people either (especially those we've just met).

    (It's Crystal -- I can't seem to login into my Google account, so I'm posting under anon)

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  5. Oh my....sometimes those sorts of meetups sound fun, but then I think I'm so tired of everyone looking at me like I'm a nitwit because I stay home. Assholes.

    D.C. is not the best place to get a dose of reality. Too many people who got there on money or looks, and both of those can fade fast.

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  6. It sounds like there was a smug problem at that get-together. Ugh. I want to punch that whole gathering in the face.

    I don't know. The older I get, the more I resent the hell out of people who don't have to deal with extra emotion (read: depression) because, well, they are young and/or naive.

    Anyway. I will write extra details to those stories to make us feel better (I think you were getting the highlight reel):

    1. Mali woman has a boss from Hell. She works her ass off, but her performance reviews (boss is super jealous) are always mediocre. She worries that these reviews will keep her from ever being promoted, and in all honesty, they probably will. Her career keeps her so busy that she only has time for dating weirdos, like the guy who is currently "between life plans" and playing PS3 and drinking beer on her couch.

    2. Bubbly engineer doesn't want anyone to know this, but she's not actually that good at her job. She tries hard (putting in extra hours in secret) but somehow she can't produce the amount of work she is expected to get done. She lives in constant fear of her inadequacies being found out. What she really wants to do is stay in one place and breed parakeets.

    3. Foreign service girl is as lacking in common sense as she is full of ability to test well. She has some serious geography problems and frequently gets lost in airports. She spends her 30s getting swept up in various Ponzi schemes. She will eventually settle down in what she *thinks* is a city with great art museums and excellent night life, but is actually a small town a few states away.

    4. The judge, is, well, fairly happy. But is also secretly jealous of these young jet-setters who are too young to actually appreciate their amazing lifestyles.

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  7. Ok, so, Jane just made my life.

    Secondly; "I did my best to act sympathetic."
    You, my internet friend, get it. Thanks for making me feel less alone.

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  8. This is a town full of deeply ambitious strivers and wannabes in various political/policy fields--gun control, gun rights, abortion (for or against), tort reform, environmental justice, or whatever--who essentially suspend all outside life to achieve a position to make or affect policy--or be close to those who do. They are the believers who don't doubt their holy mission. And the power is nice. It's the only reason to be here. If you are in a support role (the guy who services the copiers, which you could do for the same mony in Des Moines), you are invisible and by definition not important. Unless the damn copier needs to crank out 500 sets of testimony by 4 p.m. It's an all-consuming town devoted to power and influence and it takes enormous amounts of youth and energy to make things go. The demographics are skewed and the human values often secondary. Unless you want that life, it's fairly clear "where exactly [your] life went wrong." Think Chicago or Portland or San Francisco or New Orleans, where real people with real lives are.

    M.

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    1. Well, my family is all in the area, so here I am. If there was a compelling reason for me to go elsewhere I would consider it, but otherwise I'm not going to pick up just for the hell of it.

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  9. Envy never looked good on me... I'm prone to things though, drinking and reading to much and colored vinyl, prediliction for drugs, you know the usual things and DC ain't the best place for a girl like you and i mean that as the highest compliment, that M. person had more than a few things right... i used to laugh my ass off at the networking, even in dive bars, i used to tell people i worked for the DNC, i was on acid and mushrooms most of the time but would keep a straight face after spewing enormous amounts of bullshit when the muppet asked for my card or my email, it was a right laugh... did i mention i finally saw Belle and Sebastian on saturday? let me say it was a fine time...

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    1. Jealous. I missed them when they were here. I was at the beach, so it was worth it, but still. Are you going to write a post about the show?

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    2. I'd like to if i get the chance and don't wait to long like i did for the Afghan Whigs, Phosporescent, Morrissey, and a few others, found some good stuff from the show on youtube... tonight it's The Flaming Lips and Spiritualized, i don't know when i'll get another summer off, gotta live it up while i can...

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    3. Flaming Lips are coming this way in October. That's another show I'd like to go to, but it's not so easy to get out to Merriweather on a weeknight.

      Live it up for me, Kono.

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  10. I once described DC to a friend as an amusement park where no one is having any fun.

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  11. This post made my life. (Well, summer anyway.) I am currently going through this EXACT same thing. Thanks for writing about it.

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  12. And here I was, sorrowful over the fact that my plans to move to D.C. a month ago fell through, and regretting each interesting social activity to which I would have been invited in D.C.

    I am not sure if the curse of consistently being such a "worldly" person at social gatherings is worse than being clubbed with an inferiority complex.

    P.S. this article was all the more depressing when I considered I know 3 excellent Francophiles stateside who should be gainfully employed, and aren't.

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  13. Your life is pretty awesome. And if there are parts that aren't. Lie. You can take a page out of my book if you'd like. I once married a guy because we had the same last name. My parents are step brother and sister. I've killed every pet I've owned.

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