The reason I chose "What way?", is because I'm not sure what you mean. Are you asking if I was keeping up with social norms of accomplishment? Is "the way" referring to the amount of conspicuous consumption compared with what I expected of myself? That seems to be "the way" you are talking about. Some people had difficulty believing that I didn't buy a mortgage age 32, or have a marriage! I guess it depends on what standards you use.
One of the things I did during that time (age 33) was work in a home for retarded adults at night. There was a lady there with Down's Syndrome. Every night, she played boggle junior. In this game there are blocks with letters on them and pictures of things on cards with words. She had the card for frog, and she was turning the blocks to match up the word "frog" written on the card. She did this game about every night. It dawned on me suddenly that my life was just like hers.
Sure, I play chess. I go to the opera, the art museum. I have friends. I do something complex, but no matter how convoluted I made my life, it was no more important that this game of boggle junior. That is, it is all boggle junior.
I don't know how that may help, except that to say that my life is a different path. You could use this to say, "Wow, I'm much more important that this guy, he was only a gardener!" Or you could also say, "Hum, perhaps I'm too serious about my life, and this rat race is all just some sort of game which is meaningless...I'm just passing time regardless comparison with others, so I think I'll relax more." Neither point of view would offend me. I'm offering multiple possibilities from the same story.
My friend in the Air Force told me a story that a POW came and told them that expectations change. They felt really good if their captors fed them that day. It a philosophical sense, suffering is caused when the expectations do not meet reality.