I would like to take a moment and praise jealousy. That’s right, good old envy. It’s an icky feeling, when we want something someone else has, but if we can shift our perspective a bit, we can use our own covetousness to illuminate what it is we really want out of life.
What Do You Really Want?
The trick to turning jealousy on its head is to get past the initial, gut wrenching sensation of wanting and be truly honest about what, specifically, we want.
A few years ago, I was working a full time job, getting up at 5am to write even a little bit, and coming home so late that I barely saw my kids. After a conversation with a friend of mine who works as an elementary school teacher, I found myself insanely jealous of the fact that she had her summers off to spend with her daughters. I thought I was jealous of her schedule – I mean, who doesn’t miss having summer vacation? But when I thought harder on it, that wasn’t it. I realized that what I really wanted more time with my family.
Put Your Energy Toward That One Thing
Once I realized what it was that I really wanted, I was able to make it a priority. I talked with my husband and we started planning. I still don’t get a summer vacation, but these days I get up at five in the morning without even setting an alarm because I know that by starting my day early, I can close my laptop at 3pm, pick the kids up from school (or summer camp), and spend the rest of my day with them. It’s awesome.
As a writer, and I’m going to assume you’re a writer because your reading my blog, I bet you’ve felt jealous of another writer’s success. I know I have. I’ve been so insanely jealous that I actually felt nauseous. Not all the time, but it has happened. When I see an author at a bookstore reading from their latest work I think: “man, I want that.”
But what is it I’m wanting, exactly? It’s certainly not the act of reading while perched on a too-small stool. I’m not even all that comfortable being up in front of a crowd because I tend to turn bright red, and then I realize I’m blushing, which makes me more nervous and then I slip into a downward spiral of heart-pound nerves. So that’s not it.
When I really stop and think, it’s the book. It’s that beautiful bound collection of pages they hold in their hand with their name on the cover. They crafted a story, brought it all the way to completion, and now they’re just standing there, holding it in their hands. That’s what I want.
And so that’s what I continue to work towards.
What are you jealous of?