The other day I was out with a few friends, mostly made up of couples. One of the ladies that I have known for a while was acting incredibly distant with me. I would not say we have ever been close, however we do get along fairly well and can make each other laugh. After a few hours I reached the conclusion without even knowing why, that she must be jealous of me for some reason. I share this with as much humility as I can muster. A female I have known for a few years was acting differently around me so I naturally surmised that the only possible explanation for this one time change in behaviour was her jealousy of me.
When I woke up the next morning and screwed my little head on properly, my mind started wandering. Why did I reach that particular conclusion, why did I not just ask her what was wrong, or even more importantly, if she was ok? Putting aside my only child tendency to be overly selfish I recalled the first time I was told about jealousy. I like many young children was having a difficult time with finding my place on the playground. I was being picked on by boys and girls alike, struggling to find my niche in a new school. When I came home one day in tears, my mother sat me down and told me that I was being picked on because other children were jealous of me. I did not ask her why they would be jealous, or even what that word meant. Instead I accepted it as fact, as all young children do at that age and held my head up just a little higher the next day. I learned compassion from that chat with my mother, and almost always tried to put myself in another’s shoes when they teased me, and tried to remember that if they took the time to tease me, they must have a reason either jealousy or some other purpose. It helped a great deal at the time, although now, I am left wondering if jealousy is perhaps something we should be growing out of as we get older.
Is it really OK as an adult to believe that negative behaviour is an extension of a person’s jealousy or lust for something you have or are? Is believing that sentiment, something that makes us more compassionate humans, or is this emotion one that stunts our emotional development and maturity? Is this green lust merely a scapegoat emotion, that we teach our children to soften the blow of not being liked? As adults we are supposed to have education, knowledge, and social skills to interact with our fellow man. We have the complexity to understand that no one is perfect, and there is little to be gained from secretly desiring something from our fellow man. If I see someone in what looks like a perfect marriage, does it do me any good to hate the person, or lust after what they have? Rationally we know it does not, and we have all seen people consumed by jealousy. We pity these people, and strive to overcome this feeling in our lives. And yet, jealousy is not habitually left behind in adolescence. Instead, many of us bring it forward into our deepest relationships. This negative feeling, learned in childhood which offers very little benefit long term.
I challenge my readers to share a situation where jealousy in their lives has lead to a positive. Also to think critically if jealousy, is even an adult emotion and why you think it is or is not, which you can share with me here. The girl the other night was experiencing something complex that chances are had nothing to do with me. I gave it a name, a childhood emotion so I could dismiss it, sweet, simple and selfish.