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.