Have you ever been jealous or envious of anyone?
Before you start to shake your head in denial, remember this is not a classroom or a church hall and no one is looking at you.
It is ok to admit to yourself.
I have been envious/jealous on more occasions than I care to count. I used to be hard on myself about it but I am much older now and can work my way out of the emotions that grip me.
Jealousy is rarely premeditated, a wave just crashes on you and you suddenly feel bad because someone seems to be getting the opportunities to be the sort of person you desire to be or has the things you long for and can’t seem to catch a break to get.
It is considered a shameful emotion. This is why we do not like admitting how we really feel. These days, it means that you are a hater and don’t want to see anyone progress.
But sometimes that is not really the case. It isn’t even about the person. Sometimes a flash of brilliance from someone only throws light on the areas in our lives that have refused to blossom.
For example, I am a writer who hasn’t had a book published yet despite desiring a book deal. So, when another writer lands a book deal it hits me. Not because I don’t think they deserve the deal. Only because it eats at my own desires. Like, people are doing this thing and you are left behind.
So the predominant emotion is not joy at the success of another person but sadness at my perceived failures.
When it festers, it can take a dark turn. Like wishing ill luck on people we are jealous of.
Or even truly becoming haters when we criticise them endlessly pretending we are trying to be constructive while the truth is that we are deliberately clawing at their accomplishments to make them look less appealing.
So, if your human truth is you have felt jealously before. It would be unnatural not to have felt even a twinge. You may not have entered the deep end but you have felt it lap up to your ankles like tiny waves that meet you on the shores and take away the little sand under your feet.
The grass is always greener at the other side. Not all that glitters is gold.
Clichéd/hackneyed but still carry a truth, these sayings.
First things first. Put things in perspective. You may be looking over your fence and staring hard at the life of another person. What you will not know is that most times, that person is looking over his own fence staring hard at another person’s lawn wishing and wishing.
You could achieve every single thing you desire here plus bonuses of things you never dreamt of coming true. It could happen to you all. The life of a rock star. The money of Bill Gates. Fame. Power. You could be the one with the family you have always envied with the smart kids you wish you had, a doting partner living in a dream house and working dream jobs.
That yawning gap would still exist. Life has a way of quickly adjusting to achievements but refusing to settle, it carries a searchlight looking for that one thing that will surely exist that you do not have.
So no, the people that you think have all it would take to make you happy for life are rarely happy for life. In fact, if you had a no-holds-barred closer look at their lives you would find that it isn’t that simple, we all have problems.
Sometimes the simplest problems to have are the lack of material things.
I am not going there.
I am not going to ask anyone to wrap the misery of others around yourself as a comforter. No way.
All I am saying is that life generally is filled with challenges. Everyone has them. And sometimes assuming that a person’s life is easier because they do not have your challenges is simply not true.
It is mostly a mirage. Nobody’s life is truly as you see it. So the way a person’s life is going should never be basis enough for you to be uncomfortable about how your life is going. Different journeys.
We once had perfect neighbours. A good looking couple. The woman was beautiful, smart and fit. The man was eloquent and put together. They had two kids; a boy and a girl. They had what looked like good jobs and they had family vacations abroad. They both drove nice cars and we had good conversations with them. After years of being neighbours, they announced that they were moving out. They eventually did.
But guess what?
I found out much later that moving out was to separate places because the marriage had been dead for a long time.
In fact, all those times I kept looking at them as though they were perfect, they were cooking in separate pots in the same house. All those times we had collective discussions, they were truly not speaking to each other when they were alone.
That blew me off.
So I told myself that I was done with it.
Looking at the lives of people and assuming perfection.
How many times have you heard of a really rich couple who come out with flashy cars and have long exciting summer holidays wherever they want and it turns out they have not had sex in years.
But here you are. Struggling with your issues but sex is not one of them. Or you are both managing one car but you eat from the same plate when you get home. Or your kids sleep on a mattress on the floor in your one bedroom house but you have pillow fights and so much fun before you all sleep. Or maybe you are struggling to save even just a hundred grand a year but you are not owing anyone in comparison to the guy that has so many debts despite driving a Range and cannot cough out 30k cash even with a gun pointed at his head.
The greatest way to control envy or jealousy is putting your life into perspective and always letting it be the biggest thing in view daily. Work on the things you dream of.
For example, I need to work hard on that book and my writing in general while seeking deals and not let what other people are doing or have been doing be the biggest thing I see daily.
It doesn’t help that social media is now like a display window where we showcase every single thing. So, you get this feeling that everyone is doing so much better than they really are. You see a person put up a selfie with Tony Elumelu and you immediately assume that he is so successful that he is rubbing shoulders with CEOs. When in real life he had been clutching his phone shadowing the man at an event a friend invited him to. He got a split second when Tony allowed people to take pictures with him. He now puts up this picture and you somewhere immediately begin to think about your life and how you are not progressing.
It is mostly a mirage. Your life is what is real to you. Protect it. Work through your issues. Chase the things you desire. Don’t waste time gazing at someone else’s grass, make your grass as green as you desire. But most importantly, at every stage you are in, love your life. It is the only thing that is truly yours.