The Green Eyed Monster
Like many people, I’ve spent a fair amount of my life dealing with jealousy. At ten I was absolutely dying for a white and green rugby shirt from Benetton but Granny & Granddad, not down with me being a walking billboard, refused to buy me one so I was forced to stew in my desire until that fad had passed. In the seventh grade it seemed as if all of my friends had Roots’ desert boots so I became desperate for a pair. When Christmas came and I unwrapped the box, there were desert boots alright but, they weren’t Roots. Granddad had done done “all the research” and these were “the best ones on the market”. I may have worn them but it wasn’t the same thing as liking them. In the early days you want to be just like your friends, different wasn’t better it was just different. I’m flashing back to that feeling right now with you and your friends. You’re at a stage where you’re really into Pokemon. I didn’t buy into the Skylander craze. I didn’t get down with the Rainbow Loom shenanigans but, you’re older now, know what you want and can’t participate unless you have it. I’m not sure it’s right for me to leave you out of this world just because I know “this too shall pass”. I think it’s important you not always get what you want but, I can’t discredit the comfort felt by fitting in. You’ve struggled recently with certain kids because you’re an individual and don’t just fall in. I wouldn’t change that personality for the world but I also don’t want you to be a complete outsider and if I can alleviate a tiny bit of that discomfort simply by spending some quality time on Craigslist or eBay I think it’s worth it. The way I see it, this is your version of the rugby shirt, and darn it, I’m going to get those cards for you.
Not that the feeling won’t happen again. High School is ripe with jealousy. You’ll probably covet people’s cars or vacations. Personally, I wanted a boyfriend and was resentful of the girls who seemed to find one so easily. I wanted clear skin and long, tanned legs. I envied the attention the prettiest seemed to receive from everyone and I wished I had a house in the same neighborhood as the majority of my friends. The summer I turned sixteen my friend went on days off from camp and left most of her perfect wardrobe behind. For the next two days I wore all of her stuff. It was terribly bad behavior but she always looked so cool and I was dying to know what that felt like. Years later when I came clean she laughed at my ridiculousness but I still remember how amazing it felt to slip into that “skin” for a couple of days.
In my early twenties I started dating my friend’s ex-boyfriend in a direct violation of the “girl code”. Yes, there was a part of me that thought it was the real deal and allowed myself to believe the relationship was my shot at true love, but there was another part of me that just felt validated by his interest. He’d dated my most perfect friend. The most beautiful and talented and smart and now, now he wanted me. I’d lived in the shadow of my friends for over a decade and his choosing me made me feel worthwhile, as if my existence was somehow justified by hitting the benchmark he’d set with her. I still wasn’t confident enough to realize your self worth shouldn’t be looked for in the eyes of another.
In New York my jealousy was more focused on people’s talent than anything else and, in LA, I found I wasn’t envious of talent so much as opportunity. I felt like I was floundering, apologizing for my age and lack of camera experience, while others were getting their shot at the big leagues. I was even jealous of people’s ability to audition, a skill I’d never quite mastered. Auditioning for theatre? Never a problem. Auditioning for camera? Total suckage. I struggled hard with it and, the more I worried, the worse I was. A casting director once ate through my entire audition and I cried for five hours after.
Even as an adult with full knowledge of my wonderful life – great husband, terrific kid, all the blessings that have kept me around – I still have moments where I feel slightly green. I wish we had more success, more financial security. I can pick up magazines now and my peers are in them. They’re buying second homes and designer clothes. Their work is credited on my TV or they’re lounging in their beautiful kitchens in House & Home. I’m happy for them but there’s also a part of me that feels sick in a “I’m failing to keep up with the Jones” kind of way.
The thing is, you never know what’s really going on with anybody else. From the outside you might think my life was perfect. You wouldn’t know I was sick or that we struggled. You wouldn’t know I can’t have more children or hold down a normal job because of my health. Someone could be completely jealous of me and yet not have a clue what’s really up.
I remember being floored when a friend told me she was going into AA. I had no clue there was any kind of problem. She was one of those people who just appeared to have it all. Her life seemed ideal and easy yet, as it turned out, it was anything but. Every day was a struggle for her and her burdens and pain were only exacerbated by the fact that everything seemed so perfect from the outside, like “What could she possibly have to complain about?”
Yes, I would love an easier life. I wish we had less worry. I want to be able to buy a home I love and furnish it. I’d like to pay bills without strain and freely accept friend’s invitations to parties and trips without any sort of anxiety. That being said however, I realize no matter how many things I still want, no matter what I secretly covet, I already have everything I need. I’ve been blessed with an amazing life and it’s important I attempt, even amidst the craziness of LA, to keep that in perspective. The only thing I should truly be jealous of is people’s health. I was dealt a bad hand in that department and I think a little envy is justifiable. The rest of it…just window dressing.
I’ve learned that jealousy, no matter how understandable, just holds you back. You can’t run your best race if you’re busy looking at others racers. You can’t better your life if you spend too much time as a spectator to someone else’s. What’s that expression? The race is long but, in the end, it’s only with yourself?
Comparison is only good if you’re looking for the best deal on shoes.
That being said, I’m still getting you those darn Pokemon cards. What can I say? I’ve got a soft spot for that Pickachu.