Envy is, in my own opinion, my least attractive characteristic. I’m aware of it, I’m working on it, I’m praying about it, but it’s there and it’s not going away any time soon. If I know you, I’m jealous of you in some capacity. Depend on it.
The envy of things is the more hateful side of the jealousy coin. Fortunately, it’s also easier to manage: I might momentarily wish I had a house like yours, or a car, or an iPhone, but I quickly remind myself that I’m glad you have nice things– you’re my friend, and certainly I’m not lacking for anything — even if I were, it’s hardly because you have something cool.
The real internal battle starts when I’m jealous of who you are. You are smart, quick on your feet, outgoing, and self-possessed — things I wish I were. I envy the way you discipline your children so calmly, or so proactively that they don’t need it at all. I’m jealous of your fashion sense, your ability to make time for friends and family without seeming stressed, your certainty in your career or calling.
I think the reason it’s so much harder to fight this kind of envy is that it’s positive, in a sense. Admiring you can be good for me; I can learn from you. If I could leave it there, as I can with the jealousy of your stuff, it’d be fine. I haven’t yet learned to do that. The things I like about you correspond to things I don’t like about myself, and it’s far too easy to make the jump from there to “therefore I am screwing up.”
You don’t need to tell me how unhelpful that is. I know. I know I’d get ahead faster if I could take honest stock of what’s good about myself and build on it. Like I said, I’m working on it.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll take it as a compliment: I want to grow up to be just like you.