My chest tenses up, my arms start to shake, and I can barely breathe. Am I having a panic attack? No, I’m having a jealousy attack.
I’ve always had a jealously streak. When I sat by myself in the schoolyard during recess and other kids ran off to play together, I was jealous. When one girl sang in the school talent show and sounded amazing, I was jealous. When other kids were better at painting and my colors all somehow turned to mud, I was jealous. When I was placed in the smart kids once-a-week course and struggled with solving logic problems when other kids figured them out quickly, I was jealous. And don’t get me started on math class. Jealousy has seriously limited my potential in life.
The feelings of jealousy that appear on a daily basis are worse than ever now. I’m jealous of colleagues who are more charismatic, polished, and who come off as much more intelligent thanks to the ability to use long, multisyllabic words without sounding pretentious. I’m jealous of friends who, deservingly, have not only made it further in their careers than I have, but who also have seemingly unstoppably bright futures (even though I’m really happy for them too!) I’m jealous of engineers who can jump from one job to the next and never have to worry about being unemployed because they have hard skills that people need. I’m jealous of people who have left my company for bigger and better roles. I’m damn jealous of just near everyone.
But then I have to stop and think – why am I not jealous of myself? Or, would I be if I were not me and someone else was. And, ultimately, jealousy is useless. It propels me to try to prove that I can do somewhere near as well as another person, but it doesn’t help me excel in my own talents. I have to remind myself that I’m not these people. I’m not going to ever be able to have fancy words slip off my tongue in meetings without it sounding forced or mispronounced. I’m not going to be able to jump from job to job until I find the right position because my talent, skillset and pedigree enables such flexibility. And I won’t be the person who is able to get hired over and over again because I’m just so good at relationships, and everyone would kill to have me on their team for my amazing social skills. So why am I jealous when other people are able to do these things? It’s not like I can compete or should.
Instead of spending my life buried in jealousy, I’m trying to learn to ignore the sentiment. I need to be grateful for what I have and all the opportunities life has brought. It will never be a perfect world but wouldn’t it be boring if it was. I sometimes like to remind myself if I were born 5’11 and rail thin I might today be a model with no college degree, but then, I’d miss out on all of the experiences that I’ve been able to have because I’m curvy and stumpy and clearly not a model. So let other people be supermodels, I’ll just need to figure out how to carve my own path, and add the most value with my own natural skillsets and abilities.