Making an Enemy out of Envy
Are you tired of me talking about Jerry Saltz yet? I guess I haven’t had a lot going on besides settling into the house and working on my gift guides. But man – I really enjoyed that lecture! I wanted to talk about something he brought up because over the weekend I listened to this really incredible conversation between him and David Chang. (I loved this podcast episode so much, it’s three years old but so relevant: a great chat about art and food but much more than that – I think anyone who listens will get a lot out of it, no matter their career). One thing that he touched on (that also came up during the lecture) was the idea of “making an enemy out of envy.” I really love this sentiment.
When I was in my twenties and early thirties I felt a lot of envy.
I was in a relationship and all of our friends were getting married. We had weddings and baby showers basically every weekend. I felt really jealous, watching all of my friends settle down, so certain in their next steps. I wanted to be where they were. Meanwhile, my own relationship was falling apart. Perspective comes with age. Ten years later, I feel really grateful that I didn’t get what I wanted. That boyfriend and I broke up but if we had stayed together, I know for certain that my life would be very different than it is today. I wouldn’t have put the energy I did into the blog so I probably never would have been able to do it full time.
I would be much less confident. And I wouldn’t have made the group of friends (who have become best friends) I made post-breakup. I would probably not know how great Charleston is. I definitely wouldn’t live here, and I certainly wouldn’t have saved up enough money to buy my own house. If I had married that guy I would probably have moved out of the city, had some kids because that is what people were doing, quit my job because that’s what his friends’ wives did, been financially dependent on him, and wound up divorced a few years later. I remember my friends telling me that I dodged a bullet, but I didn’t really see it until years later.
Envy comes from looking at someone else’s path and wishing it was your path.
The grass is always greener. What other people have always looks better than what is right here in front of us. I think envy goes away when you get really clear on who you are and what you want. I have struggled a lot but over the past couple years I got the things I wanted most: a relationship and a house. It puts all those bad thoughts my previous self had into perspective (sometimes the thing you want most is not what you actually need; better things are waiting for you).
Of course, my relationship could end and I could go broke and have to sell my house: you never really know what will happen in the future but that is an entirely different conversation. I am trying to be better at appreciating what I have as opposed to worrying that I’m going to lose it.
As I have gotten older I have for the most part gotten less envious.
I do get envious about silly things. I see Emily Ratajkowski’s torso and wonder what it even feels like to have a torso that long and slender. Where do her intestines and organs even fit? I see 27 year olds having so much success on social media or dancing on TikTok (while I remain the least coordinated person alive).
I am envious of the amount of energy that people even five years younger than me have. I’m envious of extroverts… what does it feel like to be energized from being in a big group!? I am envious of people who can tell a really great story. Or of friends who are genuinely just so funny. When I tell a story (speaking, not writing) my thoughts meander and I often wind up lost. I wish I were funnier, and I wish I were a better story teller.
When my sister and her husband bought their house (about six months before I did), I felt envious. I talked about the house hunt on social media a bit this week and it was really rough. She found her house much more quickly than I did. But she was also much more clear on what she wanted where I was really all over the place, wavering between buying and waiting, a house vs. a condo, etc.
I get a little career envy from time to time.
I love what I do so it is more “job title envy” than career envy. Sometimes I wish I could just say I was the vice president of marketing for a brand, or the founder of something. I know my job is legitimate, I know how hard I work. But to most people “blogger” or worse, “influencer” is perceived as a joke job. Even if I am working my tail off and feeling really psyched about what I am doing, there is still a little pang. I love what I do but I do care about what others think. And I want to be perceived as smart and hard-working.
When I make a new acquaintance, I typically tell them I am a writer or in digital marketing. If I feel like they are someone I will see again and again, I say that I run a “small women’s lifestyle website.” All of these things are true but they are just facets of my job. It is both a hard pill to swallow AND a little bit refreshing to realize that my job will always be seen (at least by people who don’t know me) as dumb and shallow. (It’s refreshing because once you acknowledge you will never be able to change something, you make a certain peace with it?).
The way I combat that is to just accept it, but also, something I saw on the Internet one time.
“Focus on the things that feel good, not the things that look good.”
Or something like that! Doing the thing that feels good on the inside should be more important than doing the thing that looks good on the outside.
It all really goes back to knowing yourself (or learning yourself if you feel like you don’t yet know yourself – that is okay too!) and your own path. Focusing on YOU, what makes you happy, what feels good to you (vs. what looks good and/or what everyone else is doing). And trusting in the universe a little bit. Anyway, that’s the talk today. Make an enemy out of envy. And listen to the podcast episode, it’s really wonderful.
I needed this post, Grace! Thank you. We’re all feeling the same way.
Thank you for talking about this!! As someone dealing with this in my mid-20s, this was very insightful to read. 🙂
Been feeling the envy a lot. And I always thought having envy was at least better than being jealous. May need to listen to this episode. The influencer/blogger job title thing is so real too. I hate dating because of it and why I dislike dating apps. The first date always ends up with me explaining how blogs work and how I make enough money to afford the life I live. It’s awful.
an indigo day
Oh my gosh YES it is the worst with explaining it to men!
What a great perspective! This turned my day around. Thanks Grace <3
Thanks so much for writing this real talk type of post. I’ll be sure to bookmark it because I often envy people and realize they too, envy other things/people. People could look at me and envy my life as well. Excited to listen to that conversation and learn ways to make a friend out of envy. Also – I resonate so much with what you said about the career title envy. Most days, I enjoy what I do for a living, but always feel like the title is cringey or not smart enough, etc etc. I used to work for an influencer marketing agency and so my title was Account Influencer Manager or something like that and I felt embarrassed to tell people I worked for an influencer marketing agency, like they would think less of me for working in that space. The eye roll and such. It’s definitely something I’m working on over the years – my likes and interests are my likes and interests and OWNING UP to that vs feeling embarrassed. Anywho – thanks for sharing!
I hope you enjoy the podcast episode and I’m so glad the post resonated. It is funny because I feel like your title is more respectable/less eye roll-y than actually BEING an influencer!
I love this and I definitely needed this today.
This post came at the perfect time for me. It’s hard feeling “lapped” by others, watching them succeed physically, financially and professionally when I feel like I’m working just as hard. I have to keep reminding myself I’m doing fine. I’m working and saving. I’m not in debt. My relationship is good. My ducks are in a row, but I don’t feel like I have a lot of shiny things to brag about. I still have to work on getting in post-pandemic shape and a long list of overdue home projects so I’m not embarrassed to have people over. When the grass is greener on the other side, it’s time water your own. Will listen to the podcast. Thanks!
I relate to this so much!!!
“When the grass is greener on the other side, it’s time water your own.” — mentally bookmarking this note.
Bookmarking this quote. whew! Also, what incredible accomplishments you have. there is nothing more empowering than having all your ducks in a row!
Great perspective. Sometimes I get envious of influencers because of the free stuff they get sent. But then I remind myself that it isn’t free- it’s a job and returns are expected.
Oh yes, it is never actually free!!!!! That free bag or face cream comes with ten emails asking when you are going to post it, and expectations to drive sales for the brand… and sometimes you didn’t even want the free product to begin with!
Yes and amen. Grace, I needed to read this today. I’m approaching mid-30s and see all of my friends doing what I THOUGHT I would be doing right now. I know because we’re friends and they’re honest with me that it’s not always as rosy and perfect as it seems, but I can’t help but feel like I would trade places with them in a heartbeat.
Then I have an incredible day at my job, or I get to fall asleep on the couch reading a book at 7:00PM with no consequence, or I can decide on a whim to take a trip to see a friend, and I know that it’s not all as grim as I can make it out to be in my worst moments. It never occurred to me to make envy the enemy, but you best believe that mantra will be living rent-free in my head. I appreciate you, Grace!
I am so happy it resonated (and nothing is better than accidentally falling asleep reading!) xx
For a moment, I thought I wrote this comment and forgot about it since my name is also Molly! I feel the exact same sentiments, maybe all of us Molly’s are on the same wavelength 🙂
I hate it when I write a comment and it just erases or did it? Thank you Grace for writing this . I always look at you as being perfect and you have those same thoughts just like I do. Yes my 5 year boyfriend through HS ghosted me. He became a Columbia Grad, A Harvard University Graduate and a writer and always a Musician . Tell your Dad he was (Ten Wheel Drive, he will know). I knew Artie Garfunkel at Columbia U in the College band beginnings well .
Anyway, he left me . The handsome prince came along who wasn’t ever faithful and I lost my home and thankfully my parents helped me and my 2 kids. I wondered why wasn’t I pretty enough or smart enough to keep him happy ? But I was. I have been strong enough to deal with the loss of a very funny and handsome son from alcoholism. I have a beautiful bi-polar daughter. My great present husband I ended up with has Alzheimers. I pay all house bills . I care for him and my pets . I do everything . I am enough and really I always was . I’m not as I was but the lines and wrinkles show wisdom now not just the outside beauty . Thank you, Thank you, for writing this post. It meant a lot to me .
Grace, this post exemplifies what I love about your blog. I think many of us feel like this, and just don’t talk about it. I love the Teddy Roosevelt quotation, “Comparison is the thief of joy” and it is a companion to “Make an enemy out of envy”. I’m a bit older than you, and this has gotten easier over the years, but practicing gratitude is an ongoing practice. Thanks for sharing your heart with us.
This really resonates with me. I’m an artist and always feel embarrassed to say that. It’s not a “real job” to most people, so the ego takes a hit constantly. Becoming the observer- recognizing that I’m not my ego / external perception- has been really helpful.
I also didn’t get what I wanted earlier on (house, partner) and am so immensely grateful that I found those things in my late 30s. Would have chosen so very wrong!
I get the Cup of Jo newsletter and she shared a quote from Sonya Renee Taylor recently, from her book “The Body is Not an Apology” that has really stuck with me:
“Radical self-love summons us to be our most expansive selves, knowing that the more unflinchingly powerful we allow ourselves to be, the more unflinchingly powerful others feel capable of being.”
Being fully yourself and loving yourself is a superpower that unlocks that same superpower for other people! I don’t always embody this but I am trying to be more mindful of it.
I loved this post and the comments too, could really relate to it all. I’m almost 30 and feel like I should be in a different place in life than I am because oh what society thinks but I have to tell myself it’s only important what I think and want.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
I love the sentiment and am continuing to work on it! Most of the time I am filled with gratitude, but I do sometimes need to stop and remind myself. Often is is about having direction and purpose but the joy really is in the journey! Thank you for this blog post!
Thank you for sharing. I relate to this so much! I worked so hard to become a nurse so that when people asked what I did I could reply with a simple “I’m a nurse.” Now I’m a SAHM and always feel the need to explain why I stay home or say “just a stay-at-home mom.” Trying to get over that and feel confident in myself/my choices! It’s hard.
Just +1 to everything this wonderful community already said. I am a lobbyist, but embarrassed by the title so I end up saying I work in politics, which inevitably winds up in a conversation I didn’t want to have about what lobbyists do. I try to remind myself I’m proud of my actual work, just not the perception others have of what I do. Anyway, love this and thank you for sharing your authentic self with us!
Loving the personal essays lately. Thanks for sharing!
I was at dinner with a friend tonight and we had a similar conversation about the grass being greener … sometimes it’s because of the angle of the sun at that exact moment. A minute earlier or later and it’s the same color as the grass you’re standing on. We’re both in our mid-late 30s and talked about knowing ourselves better now—even though we still have times of doubt and envy, we have experience and maturity to recognize it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!
I love this perspective!
Such a powerful post, Grace. Regardless of the shallow nature of the ‘influencer’ title, your content, recommendations and worldview have measurably improved my life. You’ve sparked my interest in art, and now I have made a pact to gift myself an original art piece every year for my birthday. I also really value your wide array of book recommendations. As an overachiever coming to terms with the reality that I’m actually a ‘work to live’ person who loves to relax and indulge, your influence has enhanced my life experience in a number of arenas…so please don’t underestimate the value of your work!
Are you me? I’m an overachiever by nature too and also realizing I am a work to live person as well. Love hearing from others who feel the same!
Ps. Great post, Grace! Yes to everything above!
Yes to this! Absolutely agree – inspiring a considered and curated life outside of work!
There’s no fancy title to slap on one of your biggest achievements, Grace. You have created, inspired and connected a generous and intelligent community of women through your work! The overwhelming kindness and uplifting of each from the Facebook community is a delight (I’m not the only one who hangs around Facebook just for that, ha). Thank you!
There’s a term I use that I think definitely applies to you — Key Opinion Leader (KOL). Own it!
I’ve always known that I didn’t want to get married or have children but I imagine it must be hard for people who expect those type of milestones. I’ve never had expectations of doing x by a certain time either but I have found myself at times being envious of people who have grown up with financial security. I come from a very disadvantaged background and although I am secure now, I find myself bothered that others don’t seem to understand their privilege when it comes to money. This is obviously pointless and a total waste of energy so I keep working on it.
I loved and needed this perspective. Thanks for such a great piece to wake up to. You’re a great writer and a bright spot in this social media world.
OUTSTANDING!!! Very brave of you to write about envy. We all feel this way sometime in our lives but we do not dare talk about it
I just wanted to say how much I love this post (and your past couple posts about feelings and life). Thank you for taking the time to sit and write. I connect with this and it’s so nice to hear others do too. I appreciate you and all your thoughts!
I’m so glad you loved the podcast. In case it’s of interest (or in case your dad wants to verify, lol), Dave DID end up writing the 33 Rules for Becoming a Chef and published them at the end of his memoir, Eat A Peach. Also a great read about building something when you have no idea what you’re doing and the wheels feel like they could fall off the bus any day! Here’s an excerpt from his rules: https://peachykeen.momofuku.com/feature/david-changs-rules-for-becoming-a-chef-eat-a-peach/
The big thing I continue to take away from Dave and Jerry’s talk, even revisiting the conversation years later, is to put all efforts into focusing on the work. The work, the work, the work. Everything else is secondary (even though it’s idealistic, it does always force me to reevaluate where I’m placing my creative energy). The thing I took away from listening to it this time around was the tidbit about success — it’s always a good reminder to measure it by how much time I have to do what I want to do. Hmmmmmm… ❤️
Love your essay posts, especially this one. I also want to say that your blog adds a spark of joy to my mornings. I don’t have instagram so what I get from bloggers is what I see on their sites. It’s very obvious how much work you put into each post, recommendation, collage, etc. I appreciate it so much as one of your readers.
Oh Grace, I hear you so much on this! 10y ago I was in an emotionally abusive relationship and I was filled with envy because I didn’t see the other side. Looking back, I did most of the things you think you might have done staying. I did quit blogging because he made it impossible, I did quit on my dream to make money in a job I hated and it took me literally getting sick to get out of the relationship. This year, I turned 40, and I am now in a healthy supportive relationship with a wonderful man. I just relaunched my blog and hope to have another chance at it and to find my people online, who are supportive.
Thank you for this post Grace. It felt nice to feel less alone in envy at times!
Ooohhwee have we felt this at Yacht Rock. We play other people’s music – you know technically we’re a cover band. We’re also increasingly (& shockingly?) successful. Over time the imposter syndrome and envy feelings have faded, but they most def lurk. Easier said than done but we don’t prioritize the feelings when they pop up. At the end of the day, we know we’re legit and while we take the music seriously, we try hard to not take ourselves too seriously. xo
Thank you for this post, Grace! I have been a dedicated reader of yours for years. You have inspired me (as an early 30s career changer) to continue to forge my own path and not succumb to a rigid mindset that my life needs to look a certain way by a certain time. Your writing is vulnerable, insightful, and necessary in an internet world that seems to become more homogenized and artificial.
Congratulations on this exciting new chapter in your life! I wish you many years of happiness in your new home.
peace + love, aj
You are the President of your “company” – The Stripe!
Thank you for this!!!!
you are the best, Grace! best blogger, best down-to-earth and honest influencer. thank you for sharing your stories (i think you are a great storyteller), and your little fashion reels (also, you are coordinated in the back-end operations of creating those little snippets). always love seeing this newsletter pop into my inbox.
This is so necessary for many of us to look at. Sometimes Envy can derail our own dreams by focusing on others. Social media doe not help!
This is such a spectacular post <3.
Omg yes as someone in their late 20’s & single surrounded by friends getting engaged or married this really resonated with me. You’ve inspired me to go on a walk (even thought it’s 6am) & listen to this podcast lol
So glad it resonated!