Dear Miss Emily:    
 I'm a recent college graduate (2000-2004) who went straight into a full-time career and, then, enrolled in grad school at the same time. My "after-college" experience started 3 yrs ago and, during this time, I kept a long-term relationship with my girlfriend who I am still dating. During the 3 years I spent working/going to grad school, my friends, who did or did not go to school after high school, started getting married one at a time. It wasn't until after I finished grad school that all this change hit me like a brick wall. All of a sudden I had excess money, free-time, and an urge to start up that party-like social atmosphere that was put off for 3 years. However, my friends were missing from the scene, or they'd bring out their significant other/spouses and would act like someone else than the person I remembered. My social life went on pause for things that took priority in my life, education and career but, for those around me, they kept changing.  All this change is too much for me, and it feels like I lost all that was important, and that it's time to play catch up. My best friend is getting married, next year,, and we rarely hang out like we used to. He asked me to be the best man at his wedding, but sometimes I feel like his brother should be in that role or maybe someone who relates to him better. He hangs out with a different group of people that he works with, who have a few married couples in the mix and, I do the same, but with almost all single people. I've always put my best friends on a pedestal, like family, did I make a mistake doing this? This is happening while I am still in an almost 4 year relationship with my girlfriend which has been a roller coaster ride. We only see each other one or two days a week because of work and geography, and those days are precious. It's the days we're apart that are difficult with the phone arguments and sometimes it just seems that we aren't as compatible as the couples we see getting married. My fear is that I'm dragging her along and that once we do get the opportunity to spend a week or two at a time together that we just won't work out. (this will happen soon, read on).  If my social turmoil weren't enough, my current job is up in the air, as well. I work for a company that filed for bankruptcy and it looks like I'll have to be getting a new job soon. My education and skills will keep me employed, so the money isn't a worry but, once again, another change to deal with. Oh, did I mention...  I just bought a house and am closing in a week. Yikes!  O K, I'm officially stressed to the max with everything that's going on and it's starting to show in my behavior at work, with friends, with my girlfriend, and just in general..... I don't know what to do, and I feel like crying.  I haven't cried since I was 12 and got hit in the back with a baseball while playing little league!!!

....................Miss Emily’s advice................

Dear Bummed:

You seem to be knee-deep in a case of arrested development, and I can understand why.  But I wouldn’t be surprised if you weren’t the envy of all your friends, it’s just that you’re so caught up in what they have been doing in their lives, you’ve lost sight of the incredible successes in your own. You might feel that you missed out on your friends transitional periods in life, and odd-man out, but  you were getting a great education and that is something that is not only impressive but should be a source of tremendous pride. Who knows, maybe you’ll be able to party with these friends while they are out looking for second wives! You’re smart, and you must realize (when you are not feeling sorry for yourself) what’s important in life is largely subjective, yet somehow you feel there is a script to it and what you have been doing is out of the ordinary. You are used to doing things in a structured way, and your life begs for spontaneity!  You are stressed and depressed.  You’ve got the new house, you’ll be looking for a new job and, eventually, you’re going to have to deal with what, I think, is the bigger issue --  your girlfriend.  Perhaps your relationship with her has continued as a result of your fear of change.  I wonder.  That said, there’s nothing written that you have to make any life-altering decisions at this time. Take a deep breath, get settled in your new home, and stop feeling sorry for yourself.  Your best friend asked you to be his best man because,  let me think, he loves you like a brother?  Don’t presume to know what’s best for him, just because you have adjusted your opinions. You are at a crossroads in your life and confused.  In time, I think you’ll realize that what you are experiencing is a simple fact of life.  Meanwhile, don’t let your frustrations become an obsession. It’s self-indulgent and a waste of time. If you continue to feel rudderless, find a good therapist to help you sort things out.