A few years ago, I was feeling really jealous. I felt like every person in my life was achieving and succeeding and I was sitting, stagnant. I had done the marriage thing, I had done two university degrees, I’d done a bit of travelling and a bit of volunteering. I had a steady job and a house. I mean, I had everything that people work toward in their life but I still felt so jealous of those around me who were, in some instances, failing at ‘perfect life’ but totally succeeding at ‘real, messy, fun life’.
In a moment of clarity in that year-long self-pity party, I wrote out a list of every single person that I was jealous of and exactly WHY I was jealous of them. It turned out to be the best thing I have ever done, because it allowed me to see, in black and white (or blue and white, I guess), that I was jealous of people who were chasing and living dreams- not just talking about them.
From that point on, I started creating lists whenever I feel that ugly jealousy emotion creeping in. I sit down and honestly list every person I have felt jealousy for and exactly why. Then I comb through the list and cross out all the dumb jealousy items that I can’t change (i.e.- Elizabeth because she doesn’t have kids).
After cutting, I’m left with items to reflect on. WHY am I jealous of xyz for getting into university when I have no desire to go back to school? WHY does it make me see green when xyz trains four nights a week for a sport I don’t want to play? WHY am I feeling jealousy toward xyz for posting pictures of her kids crafting at the kitchen table? WHY am I feeling the way I feel.
This exercise has proved, again and again, to give me incredible insight into what I really want from my life and where I need to improve, work harder, or get over it. The past few days I have been reflecting on a new jealously list and I’ve realized a few things about myself:
- I NEED to put the work into my writing. I NEED to be ok with not being chosen or succeeding every time I submit my short stories but I NEED to submit them anyway. My DREAM is to be a writer and I NEED to put the real hard and dirty work into this, despite the fact that I know it will likely never sustain me financially.
- I NEED to make time to work out four days a week. It is not only for my health and appearance but for my mental health.
- I NEED to come to terms with the fact that no one will ever understand that I WORK from home and I that if I need to pay for additional child care, it is not a failure on my part. It’s ok that I like my job. It’s ok for my kids to go to preschool/daycare 4 mornings a week instead of three. It does not make me a bad mother.
- I NEED to find a charity to be involved in- I need something bigger than myself to devote a few hours a week to.
- I NEED to book some time just for my husband and myself to hang out. We are always a better couple when we have some time alone.
So, my challenge to you is to make your own jealousy list. Reflect on it. And then, do what is often the hardest part of any self-reflection, ACT on what you discover.
Ruth aka Grandma says
You ARE a first born, so it seems that 'perfectionism' is born in you.
It looks like you realize that and ARE working 'with it' instead of fighting 'against it'.
Wonderful blog! I AM so proud of you!
What a great idea. I often labour over the same issue you've described here. "Why am I where I am and she's so much farther ahead?" That's my big one. The thing is, I always do this in my head, not on paper. (And usually when I'm driving because, hey, I've got kids and after I drop them both off each day, that's the only time I have to myself to get a thought in edgewise.) But on paper, it is all s.p.e.l.l.e.d out and you can't miss the meaning. I'm going to do this. Thanks!