Thursday, February 27, 2014

On Envy

One of my less flattering traits is jealousy. I have plenty of virtues, like everyone else. I am patient, trustworthy, and generally a kind person who tears up when she hears about dying children or watches commercials that especially highlight human achievement. But, I have a mean jealous streak in me. For as long as I've been able to feel jealousy, I have.

I was so jealous of my mother's best friend taking my sister to get her hair done that my father noticed, called me a Green-Eyed Monster (I was) and I cried from both the embarrassment of being called out on it and from the jealousy itself. I was fiercely competitive in high school and jealous of the people who were more attractive, more popular, and smarter than me. Lately it's been a dull pang of seeing other people's beautiful homes and clothes online, to the point where I had to take a break from Pinterest because all I was feeling was material want, and that felt metallic and dirty to me.

I am constantly working against it, much in the way I am constantly working against my cravings for fast food. Sometimes they get better, and it's easier to exist without an endless hole of gaping want inside me. And sometimes it's quite hard and I find myself diving headfirst into it.

This week has been one of them. I love my incredible, talented, kind friends, and I am happy when they do well because they deserve it. But, this week, instead of feeling immediately happy for them, I felt a twinge of jealousy before that joy filled it in. Friends got engaged, friends had books published or accepted for publication, friends got gorgeous flowers delivered to their offices. I don't know why this week felt worse than normal, but it was, and I got past it because these are people I love, people I've spent hours and weeks and years loving. I'm so happy they're getting all these things and I don't believe in a limited good and I know we're all in this together. So after that little pang that I sometimes don't even get anymore, I just threw myself into loving it and moved on.

Until today, when I found out that someone (maybe the only person on earth, actually) that I hate has had a success that I would very much like to have one day and goodness it gutted me. I wanted to let it glide off me so badly and actually it felt like being physically pushed, as if all I could do was wrap myself around envy and never feel anything else again. I don't think I've felt so pure an emotion in ages, and frankly, I would not have picked this one if I could have picked any to feel so strongly. It felt like some sort of hot metal pulsing behind my eyes.

Now, home and alone and hours later, it feels less awful, less new, and more just a part of myself. I want to not hate this person, because my anger at him might be blinding me to the fact that it isn't really his fault that I hate him so, and more than that, I want to be able to be happy for his success in spite of the fact that I dislike him as a person.

And most importantly, I want to be able to close out my 27th year with positive feelings. It was a good, decent year. It deserves better than this at its end, so I'm going to try for something good instead. It's Thursday, Take Out Day in college and my very favorite day of the week because it matched up to my ring finger and we had art class on Thursdays in fourth grade when I was picking out things like my favorite day of the week and because it was the end of the week in college and the day we always got take out and ate it on our dorm room floors. I'm going to finish East of Eden, one of the finest books I've ever read, tonight and then there will be a warm shower and so many good things always.


  1. I know I haven't come around in a while, but holy crap did this post hit close to home. I too have always struggled with this (in fact my mom was just telling me a childhood story of when my little sister was born, I was so insanely jealous that she got to stay up later than me at night and refused to go to sleep that she had to call my preschool teacher to get some advice on what to do!) Lately I too find myself getting way too caught up in Pinterest and the exciting things that happen to my friends, whether it's awesome trips, cute pets, new cars, gosh the list goes on and on. And it's so sad because I literally have nothing to complain about. My life is pretty damn awesome, yet I always manage to find things to be dissatisfied with. Maybe a break from social media is just what I need....anyway, glad to see I'm not the only one. They are completely normal reactions, and I think the best we can do is shift our attitudes which it seems like you have already started. :) Happy birthday, btw!

    1. Thanks, Brenda. It's good to know I'm not alone. I think it's interesting how I've always been jealous, but the internet can, in a lot of ways, amplify it. A long time ago I realized I can't compare my real life to someone's blog life, because real life is always full of disappointments and hard times and crankiness, and blog life usually doesn't ever capture these things. But, it's something I still work on and struggle with.

      And thank you for the birthday wishes! It was a great day!