Sunday, October 9, 2011

Those green eyes mean something...

I'm not, by nature, a jealous person. I can't really recall being ravaged by the green eyed monster when someone I knew got a new car, bigger house, lost 20 pounds, or a smoking new pair of kicks. No, usually I'm genuinely happy for my friends and family when wonderful things that they really wanted come into their lives--I'll be the first one to say, "That's so great!" and really, really mean it.

Except for when I don't.

There are two times that I clearly remember being mad with jealously. And I don't mean that, "oh, wouldn't that be nice...it's so unfair...blah, blah." I mean the bleeding canker of desire that sits somewhere near your esophagus. That obsessive fire of want that keeps you up at night. The slow moving rickety Ferris wheel that...okay, you get the idea. 

Obsession. I'm talking about blind obsession.

The first time it happened I was 26 and it felt like everyone, EVERYONE IN THE WORLD was pregnant. And I just happened to be married to the one man who didn't seem particularly interested in having a kid any time within the next decade. Aagghhh.

The second time, well the second time is much more recent--within the last few years, really. I had become inexplicably jealous of another writer, who doesn't know me from Eve I might mention, but who's success is something I covet.


Now before you start worrying that I've gone all stalker crazy, realize that I have too many real world cares and responsibilities to put in the time, energy and effort to truly go off the rails. Furthermore, in both of the above mentioned character flaws, I've learned something exceedingly valuable about myself.

My jealously taught me what I wanted in this world.

I wanted to be a mom.
I wanted to be a writer.

Now that might sound like a simple epiphany, but these statements have become brightly lit signposts in my life. There are many things I could be, there are many things I already am--But these were the things I really, really Wanted. I wanted them so much for myself that it felt nearly impossible to be happy for others when they strode forward and achieved them while I still idled in neutral.

Over the years, I have found that there is only one cure for jealously of this kind--it's getting up off your ass and going after what you want. Because that un pursued WANT will claw at your brain like a monkey on crack. The jealous crazy that spins you inside out comes only from not trying.

Believe me.

So I say, jealously is not always a bad thing. Pay attention to your jealously, it can teach you loads about what you want in this life. I became a mother. I became a writer. I don't (yet) have the exterior trappings of success that the object of my writer jealously has, but because I'm too busy stretching for that brass ring myself, I almost never even notice the burn anymore.

Well, almost never. 


  1. So what kind of trick did you pull to get those kids? Was that just persistent devotion to a single goal? Hehe. Sorry, I just couldn't resist. But a great post! We missed you at the book festival. I hope to see you there next year!

  2. Great post, Becky. Jealousy is so human, and like any emotion, it can be useful or destructive. I totally agree that the best thing to do is reframe it as an understanding of what you want, and then go for it. I also tell myself that everyone has their own journey, and mine is my own--it's a waste of my energy to want someone else's.

  3. I love this post and can definitely relate to the things you want to be~ a mom and writer. Thanks for saying what many of us are thinking and for giving the best advice there is--go after it and work your butt off!

  4. Ryan! Believe me, I wish I had been there. Moreover, I wish the circumstances where different (if you catch my meaning.) Next year, please God, next year.

    As for those two beautiful children...oddly enough, I stopped acting crazy and nagging my husband about it. Within two months, he brought it up--I was pregnant within the week (you know, just in case he was going to change his mind :-)

  5. Sarah, too true about the individual journeys. It's so easy to look at another person's ride and stew, stew, stew about not being behind their wheel.

  6. Jess, thanks for stopping by. Life is sooo much easier when we are 1. clear and 2. honest about what we want. Be bold and say it out loud.

  7. I find the green eye thing can consume a person, so you need to stay focused on yourself and that's it. It's hard, but with practice you can focus that jealousy and transform it to encouragement. I believe in karma, too, so I feel that kind of encouragement pays off internally and externally for us.

  8. Jealousy is a tough one. It's not something I suffer from often (I have other vices), but when it does I abhor the feeling. Thankfully, it doesn't usually last long. The words of my mother echo through my head, "Life isn't fair." Because that's what jealousy is, isn't it? It's thinking we deserve the same as someone else. But you're right; if we don't work for what we want, how can we achieve it?

  9. Oh, jealousy. It's so hard to keep that emotion out, right? :P I do have moments when I'm jealous. Whether it's a book deal or whatever. I hate the feeling, but it's normal. And mine usually goes away pretty quick. I've learned to cheer people on more than let that green monster take over. :)