A few nights ago I attended a reading by a new novelist. She is gorgeous, and her book has taken the publishing world by storm. Her husband was there, along with her children, and she told us–eloquently, with a great deal of humor and grace (while wearing the most beautiful cashmere cardigan)–how she came to write her book.
And there I was, in the middle of the crowd, looking attentive and (I think) somewhat normal, being eaten alive by jealousy.
There was no reason to be jealous. I’m not competing with her for scarce resources, real or imagined. Yes, she’s beautiful, but I was having a pretty good hair day. If the writing world is a highway, she’s a novelist, I write memoir; we’re not even in the same lane. I was even wearing my own cashmere cardigan. And yet somehow reason didn’t apply in that moment. Going back to the highway metaphor, I felt like this woman had just blown by me in her Maserati,while I chugged along in an ’86 Jetta with no hubcaps, hoping to make it to the next exit before the muffler fell off my car.
What’s up with that? I don’t think I’m the only one who’s been hit by a wave of this sort of thing. I suspect it happens all the time. But what do we do when the judgement isn’t a choice, but rather a wave that hits us from out of nowhere?
I read this blog post from Forbes.com, suggesting that jealousy can be a motivator. That surprised me…I’m still thinking about it.
And I heard a song lyric about how truth will set us free. Too often, I think the truth about jealousy is that I should feel guilty for it, as if it’s my fault. My brain sorts things out in terms like black & white/options A,B, or C. But when I ask God about something I can’t wrestle into one of my predetermined options, He usually says something like, “Let’s think about the color turquoise, shall we? And consider whether or not you like that new pasta sauce enough to make it again next week.” Totally other. He takes me out of vain imaginings about someone else’s perfect life, and into the dreams and realities of my own. That’s a better place to be (even when the answer is No, I will never again make that terrible pasta sauce.) I’m trying to stay there. And to remember that her success both a good thing…and not the entire story.
How do you deal with jealousy?