Thank you, Jealousy
We’ve been together for a long time now. I can remember when we initially met – it must have been first or second grade, right? I was jealous at some silly stuff back then. I remember coveting a friend’s lunch almost every day. The most delicious tunafish salad you could imagine. I was sick of my PB+Js and would stare longingly at the beautifully whipped mini-tupperware of tuna that my friend’s mother packed alongside a tidy row of saltines.
I can remember as I grew older you stayed quite close – especially during extracurricular activities, striving me to compete harder and grow into a rather intensely over-scheduled kid. Karate, gymnastics, soccer, singing, horseback riding, I would fight to get the attention of instructors, and judges; falling into your (rather uncomfortable) embrace when I failed to win a medal or get that ever-longed-for pat on the head or “Great job today, Joanna” from a teacher.
During middle school we were thick as thieves; I came from such a small elementary school and kept you close as I awkwardly tried to make friends at a new school and wondered how the other girls had it so together with their beautiful looks, their athleticism (hand-eye-coordination has truly never been my thing), and their ability to flirt with cute boys.
Throughout high school and college you pushed me to become an overachiever, as I couldn’t bare to see you even out of the corner of my eye. So I pushed my body, my mind, and myself to a point where I could outrun you. I continued to outrun you in my early 20s as I proved to myself and to others that I could win, achieve, and excel at great cost to my health and happiness.
I’m pleased to share however, our relationship has evolved – especially as of late. You see, as hard as this is to tell you, there have been times when I absolutely despised your presence. I didn't want you around, and you made me feel anything but enough. I wondered why I couldn’t shake you and sometimes – even today – I still wonder. I feel you close when I compare myself to others’ success, and seemingly perfect lives all of course captured through the filtered lens of social media.
But I’m learning there is something precious in you, jealousy, something of great value. You see, you are beginning to help me uncover what it is that I want. What I truly desire. And what I can create for myself in the future. You don’t always make it easy of course, that’s not your job. It's up to me to translate your green-eyed gaze that sometimes creeps up when perusing my Instagram feed, or seeing someone achieve a great milestone of success in my profession.
When you appear suddenly and uninvited, I'm now ready to dissect what it is about the event, or image, or person that I actually love and want more of in my own life. Instead of judging in your name or feeling sorry for myself, I can use you as a compass. A true north to point me in the direction of an undeniable, body-mind understanding of wanting. And wow, how valuable is that?! In a world of so much uncertainty and cloudiness, I appreciate you helping me discover new things about myself.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is – from the bottom of my heart thank you. It’s been many many years we’ve shared together and it’s time I express some gratitude for all the hard work you’ve done in this friendship of ours. It’s not perfect, it’s not always pretty, but it is what helps me see true north. And for that, I am grateful.
Photography by Raisa Aziz