“I need to reframe my narrative,” was the takeaway of a friend of mine after attending a school reunion. “I’ve accomplished a lot, why do I always talk about it like I haven’t? I knew I was going to get asked that question, ‘So what have you been up to?’” And I had a good answer. I’ve accomplished a lot. Why does it never feel like enough?”
It didn’t help that the reunion was held at the home of one of the school’s graduates who lived at a premium Manhattan address. “You should have seen this place. It was incredible. There was nothing about it that wasn’t perfect.”
“The little bit you saw was perfect. You don’t know what their life is like when guest aren’t around,” I said, trying to be a good friend.
“Ugh…I’d rather have a little imperfection on Madison Ave. than perfection in a 300 square foot apartment on York. It just seems better.”
“I thought you were going to reframe your narrative?”
Like our perception of wealth, our perception of success is relative. My friend has an undergraduate and master’s degree from excellent institutions and she earns as a consultant in an hour what some people earn in a day. Anywhere other than a Brearley School alumnae event on the Upper East Side of Manhattan her perception of her own success would have likely been different.
Regardless of your audience and the company you’re in, frame your narrative positively so that it’s your own, a snapshot or your life, not a snapshot in comparison to the perceived ideal of a life that is not. Your past is your past, you’ve made the decisions you’ve made. Own them. Even if they’re not the decisions you would make today, pull insights from their outcomes and frame your narrative for your future, free from comparisons and capable of moving on from the past.