I recently finished my Ph.D., which took me 6 years. It felt like a huge accomplishment and I wanted my friends to feel my relief at being done. So I organized an evening with them to celebrate. I sent out e-vites. And when the evening came, I got all decked-out. However, my friends treated it as one of our regular get-togethers. They dressed uber-casual, and my graduation was barely mentioned. I did get two Starbucks gift cards. (Yippee.) I'm not asking for them to have spent the kind of money I spent on their weddings. I just wanted them to recognize the sacrifices I've made. (And they didn't.)
Should I tell them I was hurt? Chalk it up to my failure to have been more explicit about the grandiosity of the occasion? Or is it time to say that, while we'd some good times together, we don't have much in common anymore?
The Giver Needs To Receive Sometimes, Too
I can only imagine how intense it must have been to play on a Division I team. Because, as far as I can tell, there's nothing else sustaining your friendships with these women. You say they've never shown any interest in your life and work, yet they clearly expect you to pull out all the stops when it comes to their weddings and babies. As I've written before in this column, history is a nice thing to have with a friend. But at a certain point you have to stop and wonder if you're getting anything out of the association. There's no excuse for your teammates not making a bigger fuss over what is indeed a huge victory, albeit an off-court one. Did they not even raise a glass to you?
That said, it's possible that your e-vite signaled a different kind of event than the one you imagined—some would argue that e-vites are inherently informal—or that your expectations were somehow outsized. Our society really only has rituals for familial triumphs. So the rest has to be improvised. It's also likely that your nonacademic friends simply can't imagine or understand what went into the writing of your dissertation. My guess is that, during your 30s, you'll gravitate away from the volleyballerinas and toward others who've followed similar personal-professional trajectories.
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