I experience jealousy toward others often. Deep down, I fear I experience it more often than the average person. I’m competitive and I want to be the best at the important stuff and I also want to be the best at stuff that doesn’t even matter, like Scattegories.
These days, I am most jealous of two things: girls who have perfectly symmetrical faces and people who are better writers than I am.
I have Instagram selfies to thank for the first.
And my latest ventures into writing to thank for the second.
I read Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist recently and her chapter about jealousy was so spot on for me. It made me feel better that someone else has also felt ridiculously consumed by being jealous like I have.
“This jealousy was like a house fire,” she writes. “something you absolutely cannot ignore and something that might send you to the emergency room. I could feel my eyes becoming small and beady and my soul shrinking down to a tiny wrinkled peach pit.”
That’s exactly what jealousy does that’s so terrible:
It shrinks your soul.
Jealousy is toxic, yet we allow it to bubble inside of us until it’s practically seeping from our pores. That sounds gross, but jealousy is really gross so I don’t know how else to describe it.
Jealousy is also a really brilliant ploy of Satan. What better way to destroy us than to turn us all against each other? What better way to stop someone’s growth and prevent his potential than to paralyze him by comparison to a colleague or a friend?
You’re plugging along, doing great and moving forward and then all of a sudden to your right is someone going just a little bit faster than you, someone who is just slightly prettier than you are or has a little more money than you do and just like that, you’ve lost sight of your goal, and your blinders are down.
You’re seething with jealousy.
Shauna Niequist talks about the power of confession when it comes to ridding yourself of jealous feelings. She describes how she sat on a couch with a couple of friends and told them who she was jealous of and why.
So I tried this the other day with my friend when we were at lunch. I told her about the perfect faces I hate on Instagram and the wonderful writers I hate on the internet and just saying it aloud made me feel slightly foolish and allowed me to see how jealousy is such a big waste of time, and how it was taking me away from my own writing and stealing joy from my work.
It helps me to see jealousy as my enemy.
You can sit around all day and try to not compare yourself. You can try to keep your blinders on and be grateful for what you have. But when you start to identify jealousy as something that’s attacking you personally, that’s when you start to fight against it more. And that’s when it starts to lose its power.