It’s super easy to be jealous. I’m telling you this not as an outside observer, but as an in-the-know, insider, totally-with-it gal. Like, I get it. I really do. I understand the feelings of jealousy and envy, because I feel them almost every single day.
It seems harmless, sometimes, to be jealous of people that are far away. Like that girl you see around campus who has super great hair and a lot of friends? She’s okay to be the object of your envy, because she’s probably perfect and can take it. But being jealous of your friends feels far less benign and much more scary. They’re your friends! You love them! You should be happy when they are happy and sad when they are sad and you should certainly never, ever, declare that you hate them because they dare to live in a state of perpetual marital bliss (guilty).
I would have thought that I’d have put this struggle behind me long ago, but noooo. I grew up fairly poor (food stamps and food banks, welfare and broken-down vehicles kinda poor), and so when I started going to high school it was a real struggle for me not to be constantly wildly envious of my friends and their lives of plenty. I thought that money equaled a higher state of being, and the things I would obsess over were ridiculous (oh my god she has a hair straightener that cost a hundred dollars and I found mine in a dumpster!). I was jealous of my friend’s families, of their cars, of their grades, of their jobs. I was a raging machine of envy and it was sickening.
I thought that by the time I reached college, I’d know what to do. I’d know the answer, the magic serum to take, that would prevent me from sabotaging my friendships with the ugly green-eyed monster that lived inside of me. It grew less difficult, with time, to ignore and dampen down that urging to compare my life with theirs just to see where I’d come up lacking.
But recently, my struggle with jealousy and its bedfellows of envy and comparison has ratcheted up a few more notches. My friends are graduating, going to grad school, getting boyfriends and husbands and real jobs, and it’s taking everything in me not to succumb and turn into a Jekyll-like situation of absolute envy of a horrific magnitude. I mean, one of my best friends moved to Hawaii. Hawaii. She lives there now. Just, you know, in tropical island paradise. How am I supposed to feel good about my life when my friend lives in freaking Hawaii?!
The thing is, my assumptions are totally incorrect. The friends that I’m spending my time obsessing about how jealous I am of their lives are actually just humans. They may have an area of their lives figured out that I sure don’t (like, my best friend who has a husband AND a house) but that doesn’t mean they don’t look at my life and think that I’ve got things they’d want. Not that it’s supposed to be an equal-comparison game, where we all just run around super jealous of each other and somehow still remain friends.
It makes me feel so gross when I’ve spent precious minutes of my thoughts dwelling on what I don’t have and how I’m envious of my friends who’ve got it. I love my friends. I’d rather use my time with them to rejoice when they rejoice and to weep when they weep. I’d rather learn from them, asking questions about what they know about marriage and relationships and how to be a better writer and the grammar concepts they get but I don’t. In my life, I will only have a certain amount of time I get to be in community with these awesome people, and I want to be happy and love them, not dwell over all the reasons I’m envious of them and harbor jealousy in my heart.
How about you, dear readers? Ever struggled with (or better yet, overcome) this? Please do let me know (cause, you know, I need help).
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