The Referendum is a phenomenon typical of (but not limited to) midlife, whereby people, increasingly aware of the finiteness of their time in the world, the limitations placed on them by their choices so far, and the narrowing options remaining to them, start judging their peers' differing choices with reactions ranging from envy to contempt. The Referendum can subtly poison formerly close and uncomplicated relationships, creating tensions between the married and the single, the childless and parents, careerists and the stay-at-home. It's exacerbated by the far greater diversity of options available to us now than a few decades ago, when everyone had to follow the same drill. We're all anxiously sizing up how everyone else's decisions have worked out to reassure ourselves that our own are vindicated -- that we are, in some sense, winning.
A curiously thoughtful and introspective must-read that hits awfully close to home as I get ready to say goodbye to my 20s and, well, let's just leave it at that (here on this public site that far too many people read). (Via Jason Kottke.)