Lately there has been an influx of young women being hired at my employer and then being quickly promoted. While I am a good six years older than these girls, we are equals in the workforce. I look at them and think, “Hmmm, aren’t you lucky? You don’t even know how lucky you are…” Coming straight from the college campus, they got to skip the part that includes horrible bosses, awful schedules, and the general paying of dues. When I think of this, I have to really work to remind myself that everyone has their own path to walk, we each have our own challenges, we each have our own gifts, we are each lucky in our own way, and on and on and on.
We understand that being jealous and playing the comparison game is bad for us. In our personal life or in our career, we cannot look to others to measure our success. But here I am, pleasantly content with my individual achievements, only to accidentally notice that someone else is doing what I’m doing, but without all the baggage that I bring. When it hits me in the face like that, I struggle to maintain my own sense of self-confidence and my trust in “the plan” for my life. Sure, my challenges ultimately led me here, but from the looks of it someone else arrived at this same place much easier! What the heck?!
These are the initial thoughts of jealousy that sour my mood, and I can continue spinning this web of lies until I hone in on the fact of the matter: am I wishing that I was this other person instead?
A good dose of self love and a real observance to the nuances of the person at the source of jealousy is enough to remedy this predicament. When jealousy strikes, there are two very important facts to remember:
- I do not desire to be anyone other than myself, with a past any different than my own.
- The other person is not really as successful as I am letting myself believe.
A few years ago I envied my friend who seemed to have it all figured out: straight out of college she landed an amazing-sounding (note: “sounding”) career that I wished I had. She had something that endlessly eluded me: A job she could be proud of! Using her degree! Matching 401k! PTO! A title, for goodness sake! For a long time, I struggled in my own comparison with her. Fast-forward to the present day and she is telling me that she hates her job, hates that she is stuck in it, and hates that she doesn’t know where to turn now, in light of her newfound hatred.
Herein lies the hardest sting of jealousy: the thing that you most envy in a person is not necessarily a good thing.
The truth is that we don’t know the inner workings of our fellow humans until they invite us in and share their own struggles and hardships with us. Take this blog post, for example. Here I am whining that someone else got a good job before I did, when there are millions of other good things that came into my life and could serve as a source of envy for another. Do not do it! Do not go down that road, because behind the curtain is a vast array of endless contemplation, struggle, and imperfection. We are more than meets the eye, and it’s important to remember that fact when considering ourselves in light of others.
In all, we should aim to be the fastest swimmer in our own lane. In your lane, no one else is there, it’s just you, alone. There may be another to the right and to the left of you, or maybe there’s a wall. Whichever the case, acknowledge your surroundings and be inspired to swim with your best technique as fast as you can, and keep moving forward.