What Jealousy Can Teach Us

There’s a good chance I’ve been spending too much time on the internet. Spending too much time staring outward at what everyone else is doing, and too much time berating myself on the inside. My thoughts feel a little scummy as I scroll.

Have your thoughts ever turned kind of judgy and mean while poking around social media? After a few posts go by, that good mood of checking what’s new with friends and followers suddenly turns flippant, defensive, and a little snarky. Oh, that’s just me? Well, this just got awkward.

Another polished photo, call-to-action post, progress on a new business venture, a heart-felt article, successful home remodel. Ugh, they think they’re so special.

Before I distract myself to get rid of the feeling, I sit with it for a minute. Start by calling it what it is, for crying out loud. Jealousy. And then after some discomfort, realize, “This isn’t about them, is it? This is my shit. I wish I could do what they’re doing.” Figuring out what’s actually going on is a real slap in the face. But jealousy happens. Naming it is a good start, but going a step further is where change happens.

Why am I jealous of this person?
What prompted these feelings?
What’s the thing in my own life that doesn’t compare to this?
Why do I care?
What can I do about it?

I’ll tell you, most of the time jealousy is a mirror reflecting back at you the things you’re NOT doing but wish you were. It tells us that we’re not quite living up to our potential. Often the solution is working on your own projects and towards your own goals.

But there’s an important and often overlooked aspect: Sometimes jealousy is just a magnifying glass pointed out at the world. Hell, your whole phone is a magnifying glass. (Telescope, microscope, whatever.) It amplifies external expectations, broadcasts them directly to your brain. Society tells you to want that, be that, do that; by association social media does the same. But do YOU really? Is this an unnecessary case of the “shoulds?” I think it was Amy Poehler who said, “Good for her, not for me.” It’s okay to admire what someone else is doing and at the same time know that it’s not for you, but it can be hard to remember the difference.

Here’s an example: I see really strong, really muscular women lifters on social media and immediately think, “I should go after it harder in the gym and clean up my diet. I should train for a meet.” I feel bad for sitting on the couch, having eaten waffles for breakfast yet again.

But wait a minute. Do I actually want to overhaul my diet for performance, cut out alcohol, and commit to rigorous training 6 days a week? Do I really want to train for a competition, or do I think I should want to because someone else is doing it? There’s a huge difference. And when I dig a little deeper, it’s just a matter of should. I’m pretty happy where I’m at, I don’t need an overhaul.

Here’s another example: I see people starting new businesses, writing articles, or expressing their creativity online. I think, “Must be nice to be that brave.” Or worse, “They think they’re so special.” Meanwhile I’m still on the couch poking through social media on a constant loop, accomplishing nothing. (Probably after more waffles.)

I ask myself if I actually want to write articles and blog posts. Do I want to talk about new opportunities and the things that I’m doing? Would I like to start expressing my creativity again? Absolutely. I miss those things; I feel stagnant and in need of growth. Well, this time the jealousy has been informative – it’s told me to get off my duff, starting living in the world, and DO THINGS. (Ta-da, you’re reading this post!)

So don’t just run away from the sleazy feeling of judgment or simply say “I shouldn’t be jealous. I shouldn’t judge.” That’s not realistic. Don’t shove the feeling into a closet, open the door and find out what it wants. Listen to it for a minute or two. Jealousy can be incredibly useful – sometimes it’s a mirror, and sometimes it’s a magnifying glass – either way, find out why it’s there.

New Year Thoughts

Each year January (or thereabouts) I try to set a new tone for the year. Not goals or resolutions, but guideposts to keep in mind day-to-day. I save the more concrete goal-setting for my birthday each year. But the new year thoughts are just that – little mantras to keep in my pocket for the coming months to help create subtle but important mindset shifts. There’s still quite a bit to be said about 2016, that deserves a separate post. But I’ve been ruminating on the future lately, so here’s to 2017:  Continue reading

Make Noise and Take Up Space, or Loud Pipes and Heavy Weights: How changing my eating habits changed my thought process

Random side note: One thing I miss about grad school is writing papers. Egads, I know. An absurd appeal in writing Literature research papers is titling them, and including a “sexy subtitle.” So today’s post title is an ode to my Literature research days. Thanks for humoring me.

Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that part of my experience with Whole30 was getting comfortable putting my foot down and standing up for myself? That simple 30-day dietary reset proved to be a catalyst for examining how I show up in the world. I started thinking about how I make a fuss, make noise, and take up space.

Continue reading

Why Motorcycles? Part II

Last week I talked about how my interest in motorcycles developed; this week’s installment dives into buying my first bike, and why I ride.

Actually buying a motorcycle? Oh, I thought about it half-seriously for a couple weeks after my class. I’d endlessly peruse Cycle Trader and Craigslist, wondering if I would ever actually pull the trigger. Thinking “will I really do this?” Continue reading