Q:Can you write something about jealousy?
Yes! (Whoever is leaving me these anonymous writing prompts, thank you! It is helpful to me. And maybe to you??!)
I feel most acutely jealous of people when they’re very similar to me. It really, really sucks to know someone who’s just like you except they’re doing it better. They’re just like you except they’re respected a little more, or confident a little more, and it drives you INSANE to think over and over that YOU could’ve been the one sitting at the popular table, or getting into Yale, or having your special cupcake recipe requested every day by everyone in AP bio even though it’s fucking Funfetti, or having that group of guys talk about how cute and cool and funny you are at a party you aren’t even AT, or getting booked on big-deal comedy shows, or not doing comedy but taking yourself seriously enough to do a real job, or wearing nicer clothes, or having good posture, or hugging everyone freely and impulsively whenever you feel a surge of love for them without worrying what they’ll think, or posting the same selfie to Instagram AND Facebook AND Twitter AND Tumblr and getting a crazy number of likes on it in each place (these are all 100% real things I have been jealous of other girls for. Everything is stupid).
It’s infuriating. That could have been you! If only your parents had brought you up to believe that you were unequivocally valuable and special like her parents clearly did. If only you were naturally thinner and less lumpy-looking. If only you had some cooler neurotransmitters that could just chill the fuck out and let serotonin and dopamine do their thing, instead of the panicky-ass, overactively-reuptaking ones you were born with. If only you were less weak and afraid. If only you could somehow trick yourself into being more confident, if only you could magically alchemize some kind of unwavering belief in yourself out of the thin low-pressure doubt that moves around you like a cloud.
Because yeah, jealousy is about the person you’re jealous of, with her dumb fucking smooth shiny hair and her cool short skirts (and superhuman bionically-insulated legs that apparently don’t ever get cold in the winter???), but you know that it’s really sort of about you. You’re only jealous of her glamorous life of unemotional one night stands because you’re frustrated that you keep picking a guy to fantasize about for months and never doing anything about it. You’re jealous that she seems to enjoy her life so much and be so emotionally grounded because YOU routinely fall apart every few weeks and are never totally sure if it’s actually because of PMS or because you’re just generally a sort of doomed-to-be-unhappy person. It’s not her that’s the problem. It’s you.
The nice thing about that, I’ve found, is that you control who you are. Sort of. Obviously there are going to be things you don’t like about yourself, and that you learn to accept more than control. But here’s the comforting thing: in the sentence “you control who you are,” the first “you” is every bit as authentic as the second. The meta-you, the one looking at the publicly misrepresented parts of you and thinking “that’s not really me,” the one that gets so jealous when you see someone else taking her art seriously or wearing a sexy outfit or crying in front of her friends, or whatever it is that you find difficult to do — that’s you. The one that values the things that you’re jealous of, that’s you. Those are YOUR values. So in a weird, tricky-but-not-entirely-bullshit kind of way, you already ARE everything you’re jealous of, just by virtue of your being jealous of it.
That sensitive person who notices little emotional nuances enough to be jealous about them and then tortured by that jealousy, that’s you. That flawed, growing person who knows she isn’t perfect and isn’t even as great as she wishes she were, isn’t a whiz-kid who’s setting the world on fire, isn’t a billionaire or senator or novelist like she thought she’d be by now, that’s you. The imaginary you that you’re creating when you think about how you COULD have had what the object of your jealousy has if only X had happened or you’d done Y better, that’s not you. Not at all. That’s not even another universe’s version of you. That’s just some freaky monster with perfect hair that you’re having a nightmare about.
And you’re not a monster, green-eyed or otherwise. You are jealous, but these are sturdy facts to lean on: You’re a human being. You’re not a flat copy-machine-smudged version of anyone else. You’re you, and you’re the only one who is.
We have a cat now and he has one eye and he is 8 months old and he walks with his head titled to the side and he just fell on his back trying to jump onto the window sill.
He is real darn cute. We can’t think of a name!