I’ve recently learned the difference between jealousy and envy. While neither are desirable traits to have, both are unavoidable unless you’re that altruistic jerk who everyone hates because you’re good at everything. While envy is the more innocent of the two, jealousy implies that there’s a vicious reaction to seeing something good occur to someone when you actually think it should’ve happened to you. Envy is simply, well, the realization that you’re missing something. Seemingly simple and innocent, yes, but a deadly sin nonetheless.
And I feel them on a daily basis. With every fiber of my being. With every molecule in my weathered 29-year-old body, I feed off the jealousy that festers inside of me for others. Healthy or unhealthy, I don’t really care. But what I do know is this – no matter what good happens to someone, I’ll probably never be completely happy for them.
I know. I’m not proud of this trait, nor should I be. But while it has its disgusting moments, I promise that it’s innocent at the very root of it. When you encounter that set of emotions on a daily basis, you become numb to it. Where it began as debilitating, it’s now motivating and actually somewhat empowering.
Oh, I ordered first and got a $14.95 sandwich on the menu only to see our waitress go around the table to take your order for the filet? I’d rather cut off my pinky toe than have her bring said sandwich to me while I sit opposite you eating that steak. “Excuse me, miss,” I’ll say. “I’ll have what they’re having.” Simply knowing that I could have something that makes someone else happy is enough to make me get tunnel-vision and ask myself two questions.
The first, is it physically or emotionally possible to have what they have? The answer is often no. While Facebook has entered the perpetual zone of complaining in statuses, Instagram has created a world where people simply post to brag about what they’re doing. You don’t see GoFundMe pages on Instagram. You don’t see uninformed political rants or acquaintances complaining about their commute. Well, at least, not as much. On Instagram, you see vacations, experiences, trends, everything. And every single one makes me think to myself, “I. want. that.” I’m not liking your photo because I like your photo. I’m liking it because we’re friends and I have to. I understand that you’re happy and want to show everyone just how *happy* you are. But I’m probably not all that happy for you, simply because jealousy is coursing through my veins.
The second question I ask myself is, “Do I have the means to attain what this person has?” Normally, the answer is also no. When your bank account has one comma and four digits, attempting to literally live like everyone lives on social media is fiscally impossible. I can’t take that Grecian cruise. I can’t afford your $1,200 topcoat. I’ll probably never meet that A-List celebrity you’re backstage with. But I’ll be damned if I don’t kind of hate you for experiencing something that I didn’t know I wanted until you got it.
It’s petty. It’s childish. It’s embarrassing. But if you find me someone who claims that they’re not emotionally affected by jealousy of others in some way, shape, or form, I’ll find you a liar with a nose longer than Pinocchio. Be it a scholarship, a job offer, or a pair of sewn socks that are now officially sold out on Etsy, there’s something out there that you want but also can’t have. No one has it all, and there are some dreams that only money can buy.
But everything else? I still want it even though I can’t have it. And I’ll probably never be happy for the guy that everything comes naturally to. In my eyes, he’ll always be the asshole who has it all. .
This topic came to light when Total Sorority Move writer Rachel Varina and I decided that we weren’t happy for the couple who met Tom Hanks at their photoshoot – we were just bitter that it wasn’t one of us.