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, 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?


  • Nancy French

    Interesting post. I always feel like the disenfranchised hubcapless myself…

  • andreaferrell

    Jealousy as a motivator…veeeeery interesting. Healthy if it is motivating toward a good goal, but unhealthy if it is a negative? I do not doubt I have been envious of other women’s mothering skills, felt jealousy, and aspired to better mothering. But is it authentic? And does it matter? You are probably gonna need to write a post on that! :)

  • Jean Yih Kingston

    Great post Trish! Jealousy is an ugly thing isn’t it?

    BTW – Hope you guys are aware that many people think you’re the Maseratis??

  • Peter Choo

    Thanks for sharing about jealousy. I can relate to your reflections on going somewhere else (whether that be a specific color or a pasta sauce recipe) as a way of swerving away from being “consumed” with jealousy–a place that I don’t want to go. The other question to consider when the jealousy bug hits may be, what am I really hungry for and where/how can I get it truly (and responsibly) satisfied?

  • joe

    Jealousy tends to be a motivator because you can emulate the behaviour of the person or people who have what you want and raise your game to the next level to get something equal or better. Envy is when you feel inferior and tear the person you envy down to your level. Jealousy is a constructive emotion. Envy is a destructive emotion.

  • Glenn Sackett

    Great thinking, and very important in this consumer society bombarded by images designed to make us hyperaware of every way in which we are “missing” something. One thought on language: “Envy” relates to things, “Jealousy” to people and how we want them to be, or to show up for us. I think this article is mostly about Envy. Thanks for sharing your journey here.