I am beginning to see that your early twenties is that age in life where you suddenly find your focus switch. The post-adolescent, pre-adult, phase where the postgrad worker begins to search for what they really want to do with their life.
Maybe the initial graduate job as an estate agent, which at the time secured money and the option to rent a flat, now seems like a path unimaginable for the long haul. Or the realisation that that competitive grad scheme with the fat pay cheque means sitting in a stressful, dull office for the next forty years, and drinking yourself silly at the weekend is the only way to face the fact that you have to do it all over again next week. The bitter reality of life has been tasted, and the importance to find what you really want and what truly makes you happy has never been more apparent.
Some people go off traveling, or swap jobs to find something they want to do. Others knuckle down in their careers and things begin to take off, getting promoted and having that all too sweet pay rise. Some take the entrepreneurial route and start up their own companies or run with that crazy idea that has always been nagging them. Now I know that this all is no grand observation and you’ll be thinking, yeah that’s pretty obvious. But it is the way I have reacted to this phase that I am interested in.
I listen intently to what my peers are up to, nodding along, complimenting their achievements, saying how amazingly they are doing and that ‘I’m so jealous’. But no, really I AM SO JEALOUS. That little green-eyed monster rises up, he pokes out his head out to have a listen, and a sense of frustration, longing, bitterness, resentment and insecurity begins to stir.
The diverse paths I hear people take leave that monster frantically feeling that they are doing something better, more interesting and valuable than myself. The fickle fiend jumps from thought to thought envying that house, salary, career path, interview, industry, lifestyle, physique, holiday and so on. I find myself wishing for, and feeling envious of different things, which I have never really have thought about before, that then leaves little old me confused about what I really want.
Jealousy is a powerful emotion, it is seen as distasteful, we don’t like to admit it’s there; we hide it so as to not seem unhappy with our own lot, or bitter of friends. However I’m trying to think of ways that I can channel this energy into something positive, and first and foremost I think admitting it’s there is an important step. Nick Jonas, most esteemed moral advisor agrees with me on this one singing “It’s my right to be hellish I still get jealous” – Yes Nick its true we all get jealous. I think accepting it can be a step in the right direction, then next to think of it as a way of encouraging a sense of healthy competitiveness, bringing about a desire to do well, and push yourself to achieve higher.
At university I had one particular friend with whom I lived in constant competition with. Now this relationship was not for one moment a spiteful, envy-filled fight to be the best. It was filled with friendly banter, teasing, mild torment and gloating to one another over who got a higher mark in that assessment, who stayed longer in the library, or who managed to achieve a longer streak of nights out in a row. (I sadly missed out on this title when on the 14th night I eventually had to call it quits after throwing up and not feeling physically able to make night number 15). Much to the bore of our friends hearing us constantly comparing ourselves to one another, we undoubtedly spurred each other on. I think we were better off for it, it meant we worked harder and pushed ourselves to achieve our best while being genuinely supportive of one another’s achievements. Without this competition and frustration of when he did better than me I do not believe I could have managed to get a first in my degree. Ok in the end he did get higher than me…. But it was close, neck and neck all the way, and I helped him to get it. Fine, I’ m still not over it.
So the desire to want something somebody else has got doesn’t have to be bad. For another positive thought, jealousy can actually help by directing you to see what you really want in life. I, as a constantly indecisive person who finds even the simplest decision of choosing between chocolate or cheese for pudding excruciatingly hard, when I see something that makes me really envious, and also inspires ambition in me to get one step closer to getting it, I know it must mean something. For example speaking to people with their own flats in London makes me super jealous. That does not mean I want to kill every homeowner or tenant, quite the opposite in fact, I want to find out how they have done it, ask them questions, see what worked for them, how much they pay and it spurs on my desire and ambition to do the same myself. Or if I read, watch or see anything relating to Lena Dunham and I feel the little green-eyed monster coming out getting creative envy at her success as a writer, actress and all round totally cool gal. I don’t just sit around and whine about it, I write a new blog or or think up my next theatre project. I may be super jealous that Ryan Gosling and I are not madly in love but that doesn’t mean I’m actually going to hunt down Eva Mendes and fight her for him.
Jealousy can give you drive, ambition and a sprinkling of fear. Don’t let these things overcome you though; use them to your advantage. If you want what they’ve got, go and get it. (Don’t actually go stealing please). Use your desire to fuel you on, lets thwart out that pesky green-eyed monster and use him as our own personal detective and cheerleader to get our in our own life plans on track!
I’m am now beginning to see that perhaps my jealousy is not because of jobs, careers or lifestyles, but of people who appear to have begun sorting their lives out. Because in all honesty I don’t want the superficial things that appear so desirable with my green eyes, I am really envious of those who are working towards their own goals and achieving them. And that is the thing making me get up, go out their an achieve my own.