The Ugly Green Monster
We're all familiar with the ugly green monster that slithers it's way into our lives and minds. It sits patiently in the darkness waiting for the next opportunity to tarnish all good things. It creatively twists your own or loved ones exciting and good news into a ball of selfish and frustrated jealous feelings. This ugly green monster has the ability to run our lives, whispering in our ears to constantly be looking over the fence at the greener grass. It undervalues your accomplishments and discredits others. It's that one bad apple that ruins the bunch, brewing in bitterness until one day it takes control over you. For some, we can easily see this monster lurking in the background of our family and friends as it presents itself through snarky comments, unsupportive words and hurtful actions. Sometimes, we can identify it in our own lives, walking ever so cautiously around triggering subjects and people as we keep our monster at bay. And other times we fall victim to the hurtful assumptions or reciprocate those assumptions of others and speak them as truth. Jealousy and envy though often used interchangeably, are in fact two different feelings. Simply put, you feel jealousy when you fear losing something you already have, and you experience envy when you not only long for others advantages/possessions, but you also carry a sense of dislike and ill-will, feeling they are undeserving.
"My friend has been spending a lot of time with her new work friend, she seems to like her more than me." - Jealousy - Fear of replacement.
"Wow! You're going on a vacation again!? Must be nice, I wish I could take a holiday... but I've got bills to pay." - Envy - Idolizing/Envious of a vacation and feeling you just as worthy, if not more of a holiday.
I see this. And I feel this. On both ends.
I'm in my later 20's and my circle of peeps are all over the place. Interning, apprenticing, (pre-COVID) travelling the world, married, single, children, no children, finishing school, starting careers, settled in well-established careers, upgrading, downsizing... the list could go on. Everyone seems to be all over the place. And yet, everyone seems to want to be anywhere than where they are.
When I look back through my 20's, it's hard for me to ignore the active presence of jealousy. And even more so, envy. And being in a different place today, it has provided so much clarity when reflecting on this all-consuming emotion.
Hindsight is always 20/20, isn't it? Now, looking back and recognizing big emotions in others (and myself) that were powered by jealousy... not able to see it in the moment that some were struggling with where I was in my life, and I with them. I have experienced first hand the harm of jealousy. I've unknowingly surrounded myself with people who struggled to see me succeed, were innocently hurtful or manipulative around experiences, or down right consumed with assumptions that lead to a jealous and bitter soul. Comparisons, judgements and assumptions really fuel that feeling... always thinking the grass is greener without really knowing the full story. Sometimes the grass is greener because it's been seeded every spring for 5 years straight and it's finally thickening up. Sometimes it's so green because it's been fertilized and those people went through some literal stanky-ass shit (hardship and adversity) to create a luscious yard. There are times however, when people have opportunities to take immediate possession of luscious sod and are left with the challenge of maintenance, without the experience of growth. And sometimes... just sometimes, that green beautiful grass is in fact, turf. Please tell me you're following my never-ending metaphors and analogies.. it's just how I speak, okay?
I guess what I'm really trying to focus in on is that it's real. And we all fall victim of it. We commit it, we feel it and most often we hide it. I get it, it's not a good look. But it's in our nature.. we're human and are bound to struggle with jealousy at some point in our lives.
Something I've been trying really hard to do for a number of years now, is question my feelings. Question my reservations, judgements and attitudes. I push myself into an uncomfortable space to understand why and where these feelings come from. Am I feeling jealous? Hurt? Angry? Am I feeling left out? Betrayed? Under-appreciated, under-valued? If roles were switched, would I act similarly? Can I empathize, do I want to empathize.... should I empathize? Can I forgive and move forward? What would that look like? The list goes on... I'm a thorough person, thinking through things from all sides, understanding and gathering the facts and deciding my feelings afterwards. Jealousy is a bitch. A bitch to deal with. A bitch the feel. And a bitch to identify.
I'm not sure about you, but I don't want to be that girlfriend sitting in the corner raining on the parade of happy, exciting news; of promotions, growing families, big investments and genuine hardships. I want to be the one that celebrates and cheers on my friends/families, the one who sits under the rainy cloud when shit gets messy and the storm is brewing, the one who can recognize jealousy within myself, who can recognize it within others and give grace when it shows (in not so graceful ways sometimes). From one human to the other, identifying those feelings is powerful. It forces you to take the problem from others and find it within yourself. It gives you endless opportunities to practice gratitude, to create change in your life, to learn how to navigate the heavy feeling in others, and to regain control over your mind. If I want people in my life who authentically uplifts me, who encourages me in difficult times, who graciously calls out my wrongdoings, who sits by my side at the end of a disappointing day, and who dances with joy at the accomplishments in my life...... if I want those kinds of people.. I need to be that kind of person. I want to be that kind of person.
There is nothing more rewarding in my friendships than creating and building the space of honesty and vulnerability. A space that allows you to say... I'm really struggling right now because it feels like your life is falling together and mine is falling apart. A space that allows you to say... I want you to celebrate with me and I don't know how because I know you're hurting. A space that says... When you did this/said this/acted this way, that really hurt me. A space that says... Let's start fresh, I'm having a shitty day.
Community is everything. Connection is everything. And once we all remind ourselves that we're learning, growing and experiencing hardships in all different ways, the sooner we can give grace and walk together. I think the part that's missing is the ownership. And I know that can be hard. Admitting to fault, recognizing the error was (surprise, surprise) on your side of things, apologizing and speaking out loud the crappy things that lead to a hurtful moment.... but those moments once you get through it, are the moments that build, validate and encourage relationships to grow.
I follow a psychologist on Instagram ( Dr.Becky ), and although she mainly focuses on family relations... she talks lots about repair, triggers as parents, anxiety, holding boundaries, tantrums, perfectionism and so much more... and I have found many ways to take these lessons and apply them far past marital and familial environments. Just like children, adults need validation, honesty, apologies and closure. We need relationships to be open, real and nurturing. We don't need perfection but rather accountability. Okay, I've gone on a bit of a tangerine.. (a tangent with pizzazz).. let's circle back.
Jealousy and envy when unpacked isn't as consuming or hurtful as it is when it's avoided and left to boil over. Just know, the grass may be greener... truthfully, it may be greener, thicker and smell amazing, but that doesn't mean your grass can't be greener, thicker or delicious smelling too. It doesn't have to be one or the other. You and your girlfriends/family members/co-workers (whoever) can have the green grass. If you spend more time in your yard, I promise you'll begin to find appreciation for every nook and cranny. Let's water our grass together.
All my love,