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  • Laxmi Nayak

Jealousy, envy, and friends

There's nothing coherent about whatever will follow. You've been warned.



Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels


The earliest memory I have of feeling jealous is when my older brother got a new school bag. I was probably 12 at the time. Or maybe 8 years old. I'm not sure it matters. What mattered was that he got a new bag, with the army camouflage print. And I wanted that new bag for myself. So I did what I knew best, at the time. I cried.


I'm unaware of the discussion that followed but I got that new army print bag.

And my brother got to choose a new bag for himself, and this one was so much better! It was a beautiful muted red bag, and a lot more artistic compared to what was now my day-old, faded army print school bag.


I did not cry this time. I knew it would make me look stupid. It was enough that I felt cheated. I couldn't explain it, and yet I'm sure it's an understandable emotion.


20 odd years later, I haven't yet mastered this emotion called jealousy.


I looked up the difference between jealousy and envy; thinking I could trick my mind to feel whatever felt more positive. I assumed jealousy was a negative emotion whereas envy meant you are jealous but admire the other person for what she/he has. Sadly, I found neither is a particularly positive feeling. You could look it up for yourself, cos Google confused me no end. The only clarity is that there's nothing positive associated with these words.


20 years on, I envy someone else's good fortune. I do not wish their good fortune be taken away, of course. But please God; bless me with some. My accomplishments (that I was rejoicing in seconds ago) feel normal and lackluster, compared to someone else's. A rare piece of praise thrown at me feels akin to sawdust when I witness someone else being praised.


Side note: why does someone else's achievement, appreciation, and good fortune make me feel less.. less happy, less positive.. my blessings not as wholesome? And I get that not everyone feels this way. I get that I don't feel this way all the time. There are times when I am truly happy for these others. A lot depends on the frame of mind, the atmosphere you're in, the amount of sugar in your coffee.. so on and so forth.


My conversations with God are sometimes about the unfairness of my circumstances, the life choices that I made, the interview that went badly, and how the Universe did not align with my wants. Yes, I'm aware I come across as a spoilt child.


But then, I also think of all the gifts that I have. The ability to write, my love of books (fiction), and the privilege of being able to read books that inspire me, tantalize my imagination, and fill me with awe. I am smart and witty, and I have been blessed with the ability to entertain myself. I am thankful to God for the life I lead and for bringing all those people in my life that I need, that I can't imagine living without.


So maybe, the method to rid me of jealousy and envy is perhaps to begin by being self-aware. Sometimes, envy presents itself as a burning tingle on the skin, feeling hot and very unlike what one usually is like. And then, count my blessings. One always has those. Feeling gratitude helps immensely.


And here's a final thought: how about using that envy and jealousy to learn, grow and create a plan to reach wherever it is that made you feel jealous and envious? How about recognizing that these emotions are about you, and you alone; and that you have the power to make the situation positive, or whatever else you want it to be.


Another perspective to consider is self-acceptance. Yes, I'm a person who gets jealous. But what of it? I see it. I recognize it. And I've made my peace with it. Jealousy is a natural human emotion - and if I can acknowledge that I have more blessings than I could imagine, I can breathe easy.


How about that?




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