How to Turn Jealousy into Life Change

I have a confession to make.

Recently, I got bit by the Jealousy Bug when I heard from a friend that she got to work with a company that I have long wanted to work with. When she told me about the partnership, I immediately wondered why this company hadn’t offered me this same deal.

I mean, I send this company thousands of hits every year! What made HER so special?

Now, had this been in my twenties, I likely would have stewed over this for days – perhaps even months and years. I would have conjured up all the ways I was better than my friend, more deserving, more awesome, more whatever. And of course, that company was stupid and foolish and BLIND and TOTALLY MISTAKEN for not working with me.

But mercifully, I am no longer in my twenties.

And as such, I promptly snapped myself out of my self-pity spiral by telling myself that my friend got that partnership because she asked.

I had been too afraid to ask.

In fact, I have been too afraid to ask MANY companies I want to work with. I have been sitting on these pitches to companies for 2-3 YEARS.

So, who is to say that if I had asked, this said company wouldn’t have be happy to work with me, too?

So really, I had no one to blame for it but myself.

But instead of blame, I chose to frame the news as encouragement.

After all, if this company is willing to work with my friend, then why wouldn’t they want to work with me? This means they are open to working with bloggers! And now I can even point to her as a precedent!

She has, in reality, made my life easier.

I genuinely congratulated her and wished her great success. Then, I fell back asleep, brain churning with ways I could be bold and ask companies when I woke up.

And you know what? I did. 

I woke up, decided that I would finally suck it up and put on my big girl panties and EMAILED THESE COMPANIES.

Then, I texted my friend and told her all about how I had been feeling jealous and proceeded to thank her for her boldness and her courage and how her actions made me feel as if I could be bold and courageous.

And what happened with these companies? I got a phone call scheduled for a Saturday morning. It didn’t turn out exactly as I had hoped, but it was good practice. Then I moved on and asked another company and then another and another.

Each time, it has been less painful and scary.

I know I have written about jealousy in the past and how Cosmopolitan magazine (yes, the fashion mag) gave me advice that changed my life. You can read the previous article for more examples of my jealousies (they were LEGION).

For today, I will be using the scenario I just detailed.

So, how can you use your jealousy to make lasting life change?

1) Identify the source of your jealousy.

I know. Duh. But like all journeys, you need a destination before you can start.

Is what you’re jealous about a quality or skill the person has? A physical object they own? A situation they are in? A job they have? Style? Fashion? Abilities? Opportunities?

Example: In this situation, I was jealous of my friend’s partnership with a company I had wanted to work with.

Once I named and reframed what I coveted, it was easier to deal with as a possible goal rather than the uncomfortable and painful feelings of jealousy (and guilt).

2) Is the source of your jealousy attainable? If yes, find out how to get it.

I mean, if you’re jealous of someone because they are an NBA star and you’re a middle aged woman of short stature and zero basketball skills, then, perhaps that is not going to happen.

But I want you to think about it even deeper.

Are you jealous of the fact that they’re playing in the NBA? Or is it their basketball skills? Or their sport endorsements? Or their twitter game? Or their lifestyle?

Short of actually playing in the NBA, (and even that, you could be missing the camaraderie of playing on a team), a lot of these things are attainable.

You could improve your basketball skills. You could partner with companies. You could be a better tweeter. You could make enough money to support the lifestyle.

Example: Here, I was obviously jealous of her partnership with the company. And mercifully, it was absolutely attainable for myself (or something similar) if I just reached out to the company.

3) If it is possible to get whatever you’re jealous of, are you willing to do the work to get it?

I’m going to be real here.

Nothing you’re jealous of will happen without making changes in your life. After all, if you didn’t have to do anything to have something, you probably would already have it.

So, yes. You will have to do work. Sometimes, the work is minimal. Sometimes, the effort is enjoyable. But sometimes, it is not. Or sometimes, it is really hard.

Once you find out what it takes, you have to decide whether or not it is worth it to you to go after what you want. If yes, then do it. If not, then accept that and let the jealousy go.

Example: I was willing to reach out to the company (and other companies) to pursue possible partnerships. It was uncomfortable and nerve wracking but I did it. (Incidentally, if you want to learn how to pitch, I highly recommend Brandi Riley’s pitch bundle.)

4) Pursue what you want. Or let it go.

I know. I just talked about it as part of the previous point. But it bears repeating.

Look. Whatever you choose, you win.

If you decide to pursue what you want and then actually pursue and then obtain it, you got what you wanted! Or if you start to pursue it and decide you don’t want it after all (or realized from the get go that it wasn’t for you), that’s also great! Now you’re free to chase the things you actually want.

And what if you try but fail? Well, you can either keep trying or adjust. There is no shame in that. Either way, you either can look back and know that you have no regrets and what ifs, or you gave it a shot and with experience, you made a more informed decision.

Look. I know it’s super woowoo and cheesy, but it’s a much better way to live. Use your jealous feelings as signposts and hints for what you want in life – and then as spurs to get what you want.

Oh, and if you’re curious about who I was jealous of, I’ll tell you. I mean, if you go to Chalk Academy’s site, it’s obvious why. Betty has a totally Pinterestable site!! All her photos are gorgeous and clickable. Her posts are clear, helpful, and useful. Her crafts are fun, easy, and creative. Her kids are adorable and clever.

On top of that, her site helps your kids learn to read and speak Chinese in low key, easy ways – even if you’re not a native speaker.

I WANT TO BE HER. I WANT MY BLOG TO LOOK LIKE HER BLOG.

She’s fantastic.

How sad if I let my jealousy erode our friendship and cause division? How small and fearful my life would be. How much fuller and richer my life is with Betty in it! And how much better would my blog be if I took the elements I love about Chalk Academy and applied it to my site?

Come. Be brave with me. We have only our petty fears and jealousies to lose and a whole world to gain.

Coveting Thy Neighbor’s Life

A few weeks ago, I posted on how I almost spent an additional thirty years of our lives while on a routine walk to my kids’ preschool and our eventual decision to be content with our current home. (Yes, yes. No need to remind me of our first world problems. And not only that, our 1% problems.)

While I ultimately agree with our decision, there is nothing like catching a glimpse of what your life could be like (and only the good parts, of course) to make your current life seem utterly unsatisfying. More than unsatisfying. Horrible. Constraining. Bereft.

Ah… nothing like class privilege early in the morning.

I am an ungrateful ass. I know this. And yet, when I go over to people’s houses and see their awesome four car tandem garages (I didn’t even know this was possible!!!), their large square footage, or whatever else I see and want inside my greedy little heart, I cannot help but sigh and regret not getting the house.

Whenever my house is a disaster of strewn toys, pillows, crafts, junk mail, and life detritus, my heart gets all squelchy and all I can think of is that in the new house, I would have plenty of space for all our junk. In our new house, I would have the perfect life and be the perfect wife and perfect mother.

Is this how affairs start?

I feel like I’m having an affair with another house.

I mean, sure, double the square footage with all that lovely, empty space. All young, and sexy with nary a child in sight. I mean, it’s being shown to potential buyers for Pete’s sake. Of course all its best features are on display!

But once I leave my old house and actually live in a new house, it’s not like all my old problems won’t follow me there. I am sure to acquire more stuff and run out of space to put things. I will have double the square footage to vacuum and bathrooms to clean and rooms to pick up after and get lividly angry about. I will have to spend more money buying more furniture and customizing the house to my liking.

And not only that, my REAL problem isn’t with my current house. It’s with myself. And sadly, moving into a fancy new house will not fix me. It will mask the real problem for awhile (maybe years, if I’m lucky), and after the shine has worn off, the increased mortgage becoming a realer and heavier burden, I will pine after my old house, so perfect and lovely with the haze of sentimental memory.

I think there’s a good reason why Thou Shall Not Covet is one of the Ten Commandments.

I used to think it was such a stupid, bullshit commandment. The only use for it being a shout out in The Silence of the Lambs. But now, now I realize that coveting is a rotting seed of discontent, whispering lies and fantasies into our treacherous hearts.

If only I had so-and-so’s life/job/car/house/children/husband/wife. My life would be so much better.

It’s no secret that I’ve been having a rough go of it lately. My house, my kids, my very existence seem to conspire against me. I am floundering, wrapped up in a bundle of seething frustration, anger, and bitterness. In the midst of all this, I fantasize that if I remodel my house, or trade up for a bigger one, had older children, had another baby, had more free time, ate better, took better care of myself, whatever – that if only I did such things, my life would be drastically improved.

It’s not true.

The things I covet will not make me feel better. The things I covet will only paper over the gaping chasm in my heart, its breadth and width startling me as its edges yawn and sag open.

(Don’t worry, friends. I am getting help. I have the immense privilege of a supportive spouse, health insurance, time, and money so that I can do so.) 

I can only hope to respond in one of two ways to the things I covet:

1) Follow my own advice and if I want something, to shut up and go get it.

2) Use them as a canary in a coal mine and find the root cause of my discontent. And then do something about it. (Be it therapy, life changes, or better living through chemistry.)

Alright, friends. Having a hard time ending the post as usual. Be well.

The Best Advice Cosmo Ever Gave Me

Like many young women, I used to have a Cosmopolitan magazine subscription. Why, I’m no longer sure since it’s really just the same magazine every single month with a different half-naked woman on the cover. However, between the sex advice that was always the same and the make-up tips for white women (with an occasional bone thrown at black women), there was always one or two “hard-hitting” journalistic attempts. Granted, the article that changed my life was not one of those pieces, but whatever.

I don’t remember the name of the article and am too lazy to use my Google-Fu and find it. However, here’s the gist: When you find yourself being jealous over someone, stop and figure out why. If it is something that you, too, can achieve, then stop being jealous. Be happy for that person. And then GO AFTER WHAT YOU WANT. Perhaps even ask that person for help or advice. But don’t just dwell in your jealousy. DO SOMETHING.

The idea was transforming.

I must admit. I never thought I was a jealous person, but I realized that I actually was. I just disguised it by being petty or mean-spirited and tearing down people who went after the things they wanted.

In high school, I was jealous of cheerleaders and dancers and folks in student government. I belittled them to make myself feel better, but really, what good did that do? I still wanted to be them – but I was too scared to try for any of these things. I told myself that it was a waste of time and not practical, but honestly, I was just afraid of trying and then failing.

Would my life have been better if I had been a cheerleader or a dancer or a student leader? Who knows? But how sad that I wasted four years of my youth being bitter and snide, always yearning from the sidelines? How much better would it have been for me to take a beginner’s dance class? Or run for student government? I could have failed miserably, but at least I would’ve tried. After all, to quote a sales line, “If you don’t ask (in this case, try), the answer is always, ‘No.'”

At UCLA, I was jealous of those in the arts and wanted desperately to be in plays and musicals and what not but was ALWAYS too afraid to audition. That way, I could stay in my comfort zone. I always had a good excuse: being involved with InterVarsity (a campus Christian group) or “studying” or pursuing romantic relationships. Worthy pursuits, but again, so sad.

After reading that article from Cosmo, I realized what an idiot I had been. Not to mention, coward! (Although, that’s no surprise, right?)

So I stopped. It was much easier than I thought it would be.

Did I have a stab of envy every time I saw a particular person in their awesome clothes and accessories? Well, what was to stop me from having a better sense of personal style? NOTHING. (After all, wasn’t that what my subscription to Cosmo was for?)

If I saw someone succeed at writing – I no longer stewed in envy or came up with excuses as to why I wasn’t succeeding. If I wanted to write – then I should write. If writing wasn’t worth the sacrifice, then I should stop whining and not worry about it. (I stopped whining.)

If I read my friend’s wife’s blog and saw all their fun pictures, crafts, outings and trips around the Bay Area with their beautiful children, instead of being envious or making remarks such as, “Well, they’re rich so they can do these things!” or other such nonsense, I copied her ideas. Blatantly stole the suggestions. I mean, I live in the Bay Area! I can go visit the Sequoias, or go to Tilden Park and ride steam trains! Who is stopping me from taking my kids to Dolores Park in SF? Or the beach? Or doing silly crafts at home? ONLY ME! And plus, I am rich! Sounds crass to say so, BUT IT’S TRUE.

I tried to turn my potential jealousy into a springboard for action and to turn my life into the life I wanted – or at least, thought I wanted. If after finding out what it takes to “get” something, I didn’t think it was worth it, at least I looked into it and discarded the option vs. always pining after what seemed to be the “greener” grass.

It was incredibly freeing.

Also, I got a better wardrobe, shoes, and accessories.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, the jealousies concerned a simple fix such as shopping. Other times, it required sacrifice such as choosing sleep over TV shows or reading because I was always yelling at my kids due to exhaustion. (If you only talk to little children all day, giving those things up IS a sacrifice!)

Of course, sometimes, it is a little bit more difficult than merely copying someone. Thus far, most of the things I covet are easily resolved. But even if you are jealous of someone who has great relationships or personal skills, that can be learned! (It may take awhile and a lot of behavioral changes, but it is totally possible.) Or if you want to go back to school but it costs a lot, start figuring out and planning how you can afford it. Doing something is usually better than doing nothing.

My point is, stop wasting time on jealousy. If a person has or does something you’re envious of, find out how they do it. Copy them! Who cares? If you end up liking it, great! You now have what you wanted. You are now an object of envy. If you find out you hate it or it isn’t worth it to you, also great! How stupid to covet something you don’t even want? And how amazing is it to live a life where you are happy with your lot?

In closing, I wish to quote the wise Selena Gomez. “If you want it, come and get it!”

Happy hunting!