Jealousy must be innate, it must. I work with babies a lot, and babies are jealous of other babies all the time. No one is showing them how to be jealous, they just are. If their Mom is holding another baby, they cry. If another baby has a toy they do not have, they throw a fit. Even if a baby has the exact same toy they have, they still try to yank it out of the other babies hands, convinced that it must be better than the one they already have.
For most of us, this behavior does not really change. We don’t all yank toys out of other peoples’ hands in a jealous fit, but the envious feelings are definitely still there. Why is the grass always greener on the other side?
I typically think I am not a very jealous person. I am happy for my friends when they get the things they want out of life, I am happy with my own life, and I often think there’s not much I would change. I assumed jealousy was just a small issue, one that I could shove to the back of my problems, and focus more on bigger issues like anxiety and caffeine addictions.
Lately, I have become a terrible jealous person. I have been jealous to the point of anger. I don’t really have a reason for it, it just kind of happened. I guess it was amplified over the last week when I had to work while my friends and family were out enjoying each other’s company. Pathetically, I started feeling sorry for myself. These jealous thoughts started with questions a lot like this…
Why do I have to work 6 to 7 days a week? Why don’t I make more money? Why don’t I ever get a break? Why can’t I afford designer duds? Why is my apartment so small? Why do I have an anxiety disorder? Why do I suffer from panic attacks? Why doesn’t anyone ask me to be on DWTS? Why am I 27 and still suffering from acne? WHY CAN’T MY LIFE BE PERFECT LIKE EVERYONE ELSE’S!?!?
Gross. I sound like a big spoiled whiny brat, but even knowing this couldn’t shake the jealousy I was feeling. I felt like a baby, and I just wanted to rip a rattle out of someone’s hand and claim it as my own.
During this time, I went out for drinks with a few friends from work. I had something really awful happen right beforehand, and was really upset by the time I met them at the bar. Immediately, they noticed my tear-stained face (which I thought I hid with makeup), and wanted to know what was wrong.
After sharing my awful experience with them, one friend began to smile.
She looked at me, and said, “Hilarie don’t take this the wrong way, but I am so relieved to know that your life isn’t perfect!”
I looked at her with confused eyes, and my mouth open, not knowing what to say. Perfect? My life? Are you kidding???
She then proceeded to tell me that I am always so happy, always smiling, always telling stories about something fun I did, I am engaged (she’s single), etc, and she has been jealous of me! She just assumed that my positive disposition at work meant that everything in my life was perfect.
I KNOW that I have a great life. I am so grateful for everything I have, my health, my home, my family, my job, my friends, Fiance, Belle…. I am a lucky girl. But, my life is far from perfect.
We talked for a long while about perceptions, about how “the grass is always greener”, and how we never really know what a person’s life is like. Everyone has his or her own problems and struggles, everyone has something to be grateful for, and everyone forgets that NOONE’S life is perfect.
I went home that night with a new perspective. I know I should not be jealous, I know I should be more grateful; I just needed to be reminded.
It’s important to remember that we never know what another person may be dealing with in their personal life. Marriage, money, children, careers, are all great, but none of them can promise us contentment. Having them, or not having them cannot determine our happiness either.
I am definitely going to try harder to be happier for the people I love, and also happier for myself. We all have a lot going for us, and more importantly, we all have each other. There’s just no room for jealousy’s ugly head.
Once, I’ve got this taken care of, maybe I can finally start focusing on cutting my Starbucks bill in half.