Monday, January 25, 2021


December 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Wellness

By Kim Brittingham

What is it with women and jealousy?  It drives me nuts.

I just don’t get jealous.  Seriously.  I’m a total enthusiast for anyone making their dreams a reality, or living well, or enjoying good fortune.  It’s a beautiful thing, just beautiful!

Does this make me some kind of weirdo, or what?

See, if I notice that somebody else has something I want, two things happen.

First, I feel elated for that person.  I’m living vicariously through that person’s gain; I feel their thrill.   I also recognize that if Wonderful Thing X can happen to them, it could also happen to me.  This other person’s good fortune has proven to me that the dream is possible.  And I love possibility.

Second, there’s the inevitable: I acknowledge that this person now possesses that which I, too, wish to possess.  But this is a purely intellectual observation.  I don’t “feel” anything black or stormy or sickening.  I know what jealousy and envy feel like; I have memories of those sensations in my body.  But these emotions haven’t been a part of my life since I was a teenager.  My reaction these days comparably bland and practical.  I just shrug and think,”Well, if I’d wanted Wonderful Thing X badly enough, I could’ve given it higher priority, could’ve worked harder.  But I didn’t.  That was my choice.  My focus has been elsewhere.”

If I don’t have what you have, I only have myself to blame.

And I believe anything’s possible.  I believe I can make anything possible.

So can you.

But it’s up to each of us where we choose to apply our energy. You’re the captain of your life.  You can go anywhere you want, or you can stay in port and go nowhere.  But if you are going to lift anchor, you need to pick a destination and map your route.  I don’t know about you, but I absolutely thrive on plotting adventures.

I guess on some level, deep beneath the day-to-day frenzy of getting things done, beyond the wild whirring of my imagination, there’s a quiet, steadfast faith that my day will come.  That all of my many days will come, as I make each dream happen in time.  It just takes effort. Movement.  Purposeful movement, one step at a time.

And if you give up along the way, one thing is guaranteed: you’ll never get where you were going.  But if you keep moving, eventually, you’ll find yourself someplace new.

My ships do come in, and they’ll continue to.  Sometimes they’re brightly-painted rowboats I’ve been watching from the shore since they were distant specks on the seas of my imagination.

Sometimes they’re puttering little bathtub boats that arrive unexpectedly and make me giddy for a day.

Sometimes they’re messages in bottles I almost miss in the froth if I’m not watching closely.

Other times they’re bigger vessels I’ve had to tow into shore myself, with a rope thrown over one shoulder — heave, ho! Heave, ho! Heave, ho! — laborious, exhausting tugs on rope that leaves my skin raw.  And the sweat is always worth it.

And every now and then, the Queen Mary appears on the horizon — I can just barely see her! — and I look forward to the day when she finally responds to my winking signals from shore, and rolls on in.

I can’t be jealous of anyone else.  I can only be frustrated with myself.  And even that’s wasted energy (but I’m workin’ on it).

I just wish I had more company on the cheerleading squad.


12 Responses to “Jealousy-Proof”
  1. lissa10279 says:

    Beautiful, eloquent post, Kim!!! Count me in — as a former cheerleader in real life and one of those people who really doesn’t get jealous but rather enjoys seeing others flourish — it gives me something to strive for!! And I dig the boat analogy.

  2. Sally says:

    Right ON, lady. I am totally the captain of my life, and if I want something I should go out and get it instead of wasting time wishing it’d just fall in my lap.

    Jealousy and guilt are both such useless emotions. Natural and hard to eradicate, but pointless energy-suckers. I love this call to adjust our attitudes about jealousy even more for its non-judgmental, encouraging stance.

  3. Candice says:

    You’re right on. Jealousy is based on that “Damn, why can’t I do that/have that?” feeling… which is really about us, not the other person. I think a certain level of jealousy is healthy – for me, it helps me strive for what I want.

  4. anon says:

    Sorry to pick a nit. I swear I’m not an English teacher or anything, but jealousy is when you don’t want someone else to have what you have. Envy is when you want something that someone else has.

    I think you’re talking about envy here. Jealousy would be thinking someone’s got your man’s attention, or that your Ex- shouldn’t get that holiday with the kid(s), or that if you give someone a break at work they could get a better rep than you. Envy is wishing you had the cutie-to-die-for bf/hubby, or that your daughter liked you as much as she adores her Dad, or that you had gotten the promotion/award/office-with-a-window.

    Substitute “envy” for “jealousy” and I’m with you. It’s only human to want (envy) or to fear losing (jealousy), but those feelings are poison, and you are wise to have developed habits that are the antidote. 🙂

    • mamaV says:

      Hey anon: Now this is one grammatical correction I don’t find irritating — because I never knew this!

      In our society, I would say the vast majority of people use jealousy and envy interchangeably to mean “I want what you have.”

      Anyway, thanks for the clarification!

  5. Meems says:

    I’m crampy and irritable and stressed from finals, so I hope this doesn’t come out wrong:

    There are two things that are bugging me a little bit about this post: 1. Men get envious, too. Making it into a women’s issue feels a bit essentialist to me, as though it’s one of those inherent stereotypes, like being a golddigger or catty and judgmental. I don’t buy that. I mean, I think people are that way, but I also think it’s a manifestation of the culture many people were raised in. 2. I’m not sure envy is always a bad thing. It seems to me that it’s being framed here as something that is used as an excuse not to act or even try, but envy can be a motivator to try something new and make changes and take the steps necessary to accomplish something.

    What I totally agree with is the belief – knowledge – that my ship will eventually come in. Yeah, sometimes I do get envious of people who already have the things I want, but I’m working on it, and I do believe that things will all work out in the end.

  6. mamaV says:

    Hi Kim: I am with you. I was lucky to be born without a jealous, envious bone in my body. I kind of think its partially genetic, my dad is the same way. It is a lovely way to live!

    One thing you didn’t address here is women’s constant comparison to one anothers bodies and/or beauty, and showing or feeling jealous (or is it envious?!). This crap ruins relationships more then most of us care to admit.

    Here too, I can’t think of anyone I feel this way towards. I want to be me, look like me, imperfections and all. God made me to look as I do, it would be just odd to me to “wish” for anything else, don’t you think?

    Thanks for yet another awesome post my friend!

  7. cggirl says:

    Ha how timely, I was just talking about this in a comment on the previous post – saying we should have a discussion about it – and here it is! Thanks!

    I, myself, am often envious. And in fact, I’m more often envious of women than of men, perhaps because that’s who I compare myself to. I think it’s awesome for you Kim and mamaV that you don’t have it (I envy that! lol) but I don’t identify, because I do still have these feelings. I just try to recognize them for what they are, and sort of diffuse them.

    I do love this attitude:
    “I just shrug and think,”Well, if I’d wanted Wonderful Thing X badly enough, I could’ve given it higher priority, could’ve worked harder. But I didn’t. That was my choice. My focus has been elsewhere.”

    Though then when you mention you have only yourself to blame – for you, it seems like this is a nonchalant kind of thing, which is great. For me, sadly, I can really get down on myself about stuff.

    I know it’s totally stupid to waste energy being envious, or being down on myself for not having achieved something. But I’m just being honest by admitting that I do feel that way sometimes…

    I’m working on being more laid back in general though so hopefully that’ll take 🙂

    Oh and Sally – I agree that guilt can be a waste of energy. But it also does have its place if it’s your conscience encouraging you to behave better toward others… And Meems might also be right about how envy might sometimes be a motivator. I don’t know, just something to consider…

  8. love2eatinpa says:

    very inspiring post, thank you!

  9. Just a comment says:

    I’ve witnessed and also experienced envy coming between good friends, and even best friends. The problem with envy/jealousy is that if unchecked, it can lead to lying, gossiping, being catty, and back-stabbing. I don’t understand why some people would go out of their ways to hurt close friends whom they claim to really care about and love.

    On the other hand, I know envy is hard suppress sometimes. I do understand the reasons behind it (just not when it’s targeted at someone you claim to really care about). I always try to replace envy with admiration. For example, “Wow, she’s so pretty! She’s lucky to have such a sweet smile. I think I’m going to start smiling more too.”

  10. sleepydumpling says:

    I think jealousy is something that is encouraged in women. Jealousy and competitiveness. It’s encouraged because as long as we’re competing and out bitching each other, we’re not using our time and resources to raise ourselves up above everything that pushes us down. And being jealous and competitive is worth big bucks to diet, beauty, clothing, etc industries.

    I couldn’t be bothered with either. I have one life to live and no time to waste.

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