Do you remember when goose down jackets were the thing right around 1999/2000? My friend had a goose down jacket from Express that I thought was SO HOT! I knew that my grandma couldn’t afford a goose down jacket from Express, but that didn’t stop me from begging, I mean, asking repetitively. I still remember the day I walked into Express, trying my best to look like this wasn’t the most defining day of my life. I browsed the coats, inconspicuously. All the shiny ones were gone. They only had the coat in this gray, fleece-like material. I went back and forth and eventually settled on “Shiny or not, I have to have this coat!” I pulled out my grandma’s last and spent every penny of it on that coat. I eyeballed the receipt, feeling both proud and guilty. Guilt (and reason) said that money should have been spent on a less expensive coat, some pants, and shirts. Pride said You May Never Get This Chance Again! I walked out of the store, gleaming Express bag in hand, new coat in tow. I was going to look so good in my new Express coat!
Before 2 weeks had passed, my coat was so full of lint and goose feathers that it looked like an old hand-me-down. People would pick lint off of it in the middle of conversation. #FAIL
If I knew then what I know now, I would have realized that my envy was never about the coat. It was about fitting in. It was about self-esteem. It was about being able to afford something nice. And, it was about feeling like I had a mom and dad who could buy me nice things instead of feeling like a kid with no parents at all. It was about for once, just once not feeling like the kid who lives with her grandma, a grandma who loved her so much she would scrap up money for an Express coat her grand-daughter just had to have. It was about feeling normal.
Some of us are still trying to keep up with the Joneses, buying things we can’t afford, don’t need and sometimes don’t even like just to fill a void that’s bigger than anything we could ever buy. When you feel that twinge of envy, before you do anything else, search for the truth.
- Why am I jealous?
- What is my motivation for having ______?
- Is it about what s/he has or is it about what’s lacking in my life?
- Will getting what s/he has fill the void?
- What are steps I can take to gain the REAL thing(s) I want/need?