By: Kristen Flowers
At age thirty-three I thought my years of self discovery were over. I arrogantly believed I knew everything there was to know about myself and why wouldn’t I? I had made it through adolescence, puberty, and now adulthood. I paid my own bills, have a husband, my cat’s litter box was cleaned out (somewhat) regularly and I have a nice little apartment in the quiet part in town. I thought I was set. Never did I expect that Facebook would teach me an important lesson about my life.
On light work day at the office I decided to pass the time by looking up old elementary school friends on the social media site to see how their lives turned out. What started as innocent curiosity quickly sent me down the cyber rabbit hole and the more I delved into their lives my spirit sank lower and lower. The short boys with choppy haircuts and braces were now successful lawyers and therapists and the girls who use to paint their nails neon green and tease their hair were interior decorators and doctors. I should have been happy that they were doing so well but I wasn’t. It was then that I discovered the horrifying truth about myself.
I am a jealous person.
Although not malicious in anyway, I was living the epitome of “the grass is always greener”. Through this new found knowledge I started to think back to all the people I had cut out of my life. Were these people really “jerks”? Did they really not “get me”? No, sadly I realized that these were the people who moved up in their careers faster than me, women that looked more put together, industry professionals who were making the kind of money I wanted to and those making their dreams come true. I didn’t realize it at the time but now I understood that their success and good fortune was something I couldn’t handle and through no fault of their own, I dismissed them as friends in my life.
The truth of the matter is that I knew these men and women and they deserved success. These people had worked with me at various companies and I had been there as they worked hard. The thing that I couldn’t get past was that despite my hard work I always felt left behind.
Being jealous of others may seem like a personality trait that would be obvious but it wasn’t and I was frightened at the implications. What will this mean for me in the long run? Could I ever live a happy, care-free life if I continued to live this way?
I wanted to look into where this flaw came from and decided to think back to the earliest memory of my jealousy. A hazy picture emerged of a childhood friend who I idolized. She was my best friend at the time so if anyone was suppose to look past her perfection it was suppose to be me but I couldn’t. I noticed the middle school boys thrown into puberty when she walked past. They never noticed the frizzy haired and mouthful of metal best friend. I saw how proud the teachers were as they handed her another A paper while I struggled just to get a C. She lived in a huge house in an elite neighborhood and was the center of her parent’s world. My parents loved me but they had their hands full with my brother most of the time in a house that sometimes felt claustrophobic.
I let this new information sink in. For the past twenty years I have been secretly wishing that I had other people’s lives. Then an even more frightening thought took hold. Deep down inside, I must think that I pale in comparison to others, that somehow I am less than them. It’s the only reason why I would be envious of what they have.
How did I become this way? Mom and Dad certainly didn’t shower me with compliments but I don’t think they ever attacked my self-esteem in such a dramatic way to led me to this. Did Hollywood and magazines show me I wasn’t worthy unless I looked and acted a certain way? It’s possible, since those have been proven to have changed a girl’s self worth by adolescence. Regardless of how I got this way, what I want to know is how to change it.
I made it my personal mission to make a list of everything I have accomplished. I have a successful career just like these old friends. Yes, one of them was a doctor making oodles of money but did I want to be a doctor? No, it was never something that interested me so why covet it. I moved on to my personal life. I also had a wonderful marriage so why do I envy theirs? I had to remind myself that the pictures of the tanned couple I saw on Facebook was of a vacation photo. Have my husband and I ever been on a vacation? Of course we had, so why be jealous?
The little green monster inside slowly but surely started to melt away until I was left feeling pretty darn good about myself again. It’s so much easier to see what we don’t have instead of what we do when it comes to our life. If I was friends with myself I would be laughing over a glass of wine and saying how crazy I was for feeling this way. “Look at all you have accomplished!” I would say. I would point at all the promotions and job offers and I would compliment myself at that new necklace that I am totally pulling off.
We would say it to our friends but never to ourselves so I made the decision to start saying it, every day, until I feel differently.
What was initially gut wrenching to find out about myself turned into a life lesson I will never forget. Everyone needs to take the pressure off once in awhile and be kinder and gentler to ourselves. It’s okay to want what someone else has but don’t forget all you have in the process. It make take a little time but eventually I will realize that just because someone has more does not mean I have less.