Envy seems to be everywhere, these days. More than ever. Or maybe we see it more now because social media posts give us a way to compare ourselves with others. Social media posts can make us envious of others, whose lives we fear are bigger, more interesting, more secure and happier than our own.
Every time I’ve seen envy in my world it’s thrown me for a loop. That’s because I can’t say I’ve ever been envious of anyone, ever. And my life hasn’t been a slam dunk.
There have always been smarter, better off, prettier, more secure, more successful people than I. There are people with nicer homes, nicer clothes, nicer dogs, even (sorry, Riley, but you can be a crab!) even today at my advanced age.
But still, I don’t feel envious. I have never thought the good fortune of others (or the bad) had anything to do with me.
When someone says they’re envious of…whatever.….the words of the Desiderata ring in my ears:
If you compare yourself with others
you may become vain and bitter
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
It was wise advice in the 1960s and it’s still wise. Life is not a competition. It’s school. There are lessons to learn. And we each learn at our own pace, whatever that might be. Sometimes, like me, you have to learn the same lesson a bunch of times. And sometimes you get it right away.
Several blogger friends fell on hard times in recent years and were forced to reinvent themselves at midlife or even later. One of them is a very good friend, indeed, and you know who you are because we talk constantly about your new business. I love that you are active and engaged in succeeding because it means you will.
But here’s the thing: they are reinventing themselves. They didn’t sit around being envious of others. They picked themselves up, shook themselves off and put one foot in front of the other until a path to reinvention appeared. They’re embracing this new life, so different from their old one.
We come into the world with a set of unique talents and traits that make up that spark of who we are. That’s the starting point. What happens to us — the tests, the trials, the tribulations (and yes, the good stuff, too) –are meant to teach us something. Every second we spend being envious is a second we are not learning.
Yes, yes, I know, I read that essay that made the rounds recently that said “everything DOESN’T happen for a reason.” And I beg to differ. It all happens to teach us.
But that’s not today’s topic, which is envy. Glad to hear your thoughts, below.