Envy is one of the seven deadly sins, correct? And we all know what the green-eyed monster did to Othello and poor Desdemona! (Side note: Y'know how in "Othello" everyone keeps referring to him as "the Moor?" Well, someday I'm gonna direct a production that includes a rousing rendition of "Summer Nights" at the opening of the play, when Othi and Desi first show up, having just married. "Tell me, Moor, tell me, Moor was it love at first sight..." I know! Genius, right?)
Apparently there's a difference between envy and jealousy, which I never really understood. I guess envy is when someone has something you want, and jealousy is directed more toward a person in general.
Or something like that.
Anyway, I was thinking about jealousy this morning, for reasons still unknown. See, I've been known to be a wee bit insecure at certain times in my life. Which is kinda like saying the Grand Canyon is somewhat large. The fact is, up until fairly recently, I was a walking, talking bundle of exposed nerve endings. A powder keg of neuroses, ready to go off at the slightest hint of criticism. And I DID go off. Frequently.
I still have a boatload of insecurities, but whether through age, therapy, or the more-likely combination of both, I have calmed down considerably. I am much more able to count my blessings, and to be truly grateful for them.
Back in my 20's, truly the age of UNreason, I was so insanely jealous of so many people, and truly begrudged them their good fortune. It only got worse, of course, when I moved to L.A. and was a starving artist, trying desperately to make the world recognize my true genius. Oh how I hated the other women my age (and younger) who, IMHO, had only a smidgen of the talent I had, but were working because they looked better naked/slept with a producer/were the sister of the director. It was high school all over again: the popular girls got all the jobs and I was stuck in drama club, taking myself way too seriously as usual.
I remember reading an interview with Jennifer Aniston, who was about 27 or 28 at the time (as was I). During the interview, a car alarm went off, and kept going and going and going. Finally she said "OK, no one cares! Get a Lojack and be done with it!" And I thought, "Well, Miss Sitcom/budding movie star, not everyone gets paid $1 million per episode of a hit TV show, is engaged to the biggest movie star in the world (at the time), and some of us can barely afford gas, let alone a Lojack system!!!!!
I was SOOOOO MAD!!!!! At EVERYONE! I was consumed by jealousy. And the sad thing was, it wasn't even about wanting to work as an actress, it was to prove myself. To all the people I felt had "wronged" me in my life, whether they were acting teachers who didn't recognize my "brilliance," or kids in high school who didn't invite me to the cool parties, whatever. There was always some giant, looming, shadowy figure in my head who kept up a constant stream of negative chatter. I wanted those people to be jealous of ME. To turn on their TVs or go to the local megaplex and say "Holy cow! Is that ALYSSA?!?!?! Wow! She's a STAR!!!!!"
When I think about it now, it's pretty sad and pathetic. Especially since the people I was always so jealous of had problems of their own. Seriously, would I exchange my life for Jennifer Aniston's? Hell no! Don't get me wrong, she actually seems like a nice woman and I wish her well, but I don't want her life. I truly felt for her when the whole Brangelina thing went down. (I was Team Aniston all the way, 'cause Angelina, who should be lauded for her humanitarian work, does have a history of taking up with men who are already in relationships. Just my 2 cents.) Sure, maybe she makes out with Gerard Butler from time to time, but I get to mack on my hubby ALL the time, and he's hot!!!! I also don't have photographers following me, magazines making up stories about me, or writers in the New York Times calling me fat.
The sad fact is, I spent so much time and energy being jealous of people who, well, didn't really have such great lives. Whether famous or not, they all had some serious issues, and they're all HUMAN. When people say jealousy is a waste of time, I FINALLY get it!
When we look at someone, be it a celebrity, a reality star, or a neighbor, and we wish we had their lives, we usually don't really know what is truly going on in those lives, right? I may be jealous of my friend who has a nanny and a housekeeper, but she also has tons of stress at work that I don't have to deal with.
The fact is, I'm very grateful for the life I have, and quite proud of myself. As a mother, a teacher, a wife, and, most of all, as a person.
8 years ago I couldn't have even imagined feeling the way I do today. And that really is something to be thankful for!