March 30, 2014

Book Review: The Idea of Him

Sometimes I think that I should have stayed in New York for a while after business school. Or maybe I should have at least moved to San Francisco instead of returning to the peninsula—closer to work but definitely not the city. I have an image of what that could have been like.

Sometimes I wonder what things would be like if I hadn't met Jeff. Or if we had decided not to have kids. Or if we had bought a different house. Or if Moe was a typical kid and we could travel and go out as a family. Or if I were a different kind of parent. I have an image in my head of what that could have been like.

The thing is, I made all of those decisions—moving back to California, living in Silicon Valley, having kids—for good reasons. I wanted to be closer to my family. I didn't want the long commute. I always wanted kids. And as for Moe? He is who he is. I'd make the same decisions today.

Still, my life definitely does not look like what I thought it would look like by now. And sometimes I think that means I've made a mistake.

It seems we all spend a lot of time thinking about what we should be doing. Facebook and Pinterest are full of so many wonderful organizing-decorating-crafting-sewing-cooking-exercising-mindfulness-cleaning ideas that show me what my life is supposed to look like. But is that what I want my life to look like?

I look around at all the Silicon Valley wealth and I see people doing things they think they should be doing, and driving the cars they should be driving (it's a Tesla), and sending their kids to the schools they should be going to. They eat at the right restaurants and live in the right zip codes and throw the right parties. But is that what they really want to be doing? Is that what I want to be doing?

People who run companies do things they think they are supposed to because they are Silicon Vally companies and that is what those companies do. As if personal chefs and free meals and laundry service somehow legitimize your place in the Valley.

It can be tough when your life doesn't look like what you expected. But it is even tougher when you are trying to live up to some idea of what you think your life should be.

This post was inspired by the novel The Idea of Him by Holly Peterson. Allie thought she had the perfect husband, until she finds him and another woman in a compromising position in their own apartment. Join From Left to Write on April we discuss The Idea of Him. Join us for a live chat with Holly on April 3.  As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


  1. I used to spend hours thinking about the "what if's" as a teenager. We moved 18 times growing up, and I always wondered what would have happened if we'd stayed at any of those places. Now I finally feel like I'm where I should be - that all possible paths would have led me here. It's hard a lot (I'm so poor!) but that helps me to be happy and deal with it all!

  2. I think all of us have asked ourselves those what if questions and most of us are probably living a life that we didn't expect. But usually where we are now is pretty darn good, just like you said! Great post!

  3. Most days, I focus on being thankful for what I do have. But every now and then, I find myself in a bout of "What if" and it's almost always a recipe for unhappiness. Then I remind myself I wouldn't be who I am, where I am, surrounded by those I love, knowing what I know if I had taken any other paths, and it allows me to go back to being thankful for the life I'm living.

  4. I can relate definitely! I always wonder "what if..." I know I'm not living the life I thought I would be, and at times it makes me sad. Sometimes books like this one makes us wonder and question our choices, that's what is so great about books.

  5. I constantly struggle with enjoying my life for what it is and not the idea in my head of what it should be. I just decided to make a career move that includes taking a paycut and will complete change what my life looks like but I have to go with what feels right and not the idea that I've had in my head for years of what "success" is. Stopping by from FL2W!

  6. I totally get this, my husband is in the tech industry and I am so thankful he is not the type to need every new gaming system or tech item as soon as it comes out, like most of his friends, he is a family man first and I love that.

    Moving to the suburbs, I still wonder could we have made it work in Boston, would it have been a better or worse quality of life?

  7. I do that sometimes too, what if I had gone to a different law school, or taken a different job?

  8. Ah yes, all those choices we didn't take; the roads we failed to travel, the islands we didn't live on versus the ones we did, the educations we lack and the experiences we are filled with...


I love comments! Respectful disagreement always encouraged.


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