All too often, we see what others have, who others have become, and we admire it. That’s a natural human sentiment.
If we leave it at that — admiration — we might discover something good. (ex. — a friend gets a new job; it encourages us to leave our dead-end job or go back to school).
But sometimes admiration turns ugly, and envy rears its ugly head. Envy makes us feel bad about ourselves; like we’re not good enough. Envy is not a pretty thing.
Which brings me to this little tale.
There’s a girl at my gym that I’ve noticed has lost a lot of weight over the past few months.
I see her slaving away on the step-mill each night when I’m there, and each week she looks leaner and leaner (not sickly lean; she looks fit and toned).
She is probably a college student or just out of college maybe — my guess, she looks about 23, 24.
And she looks fantastic.
I’ve never spoken to her, so I don’t know what her background is. Was she someone thin who had gained weight and was losing it, was she losing weight for the first time, was she new to working out and saw stellar results?
I don’t know, though I think she’s training for a fitness show or something, given some things I’ve overheard her say to some of the other girls at the gym.
Anyway, I admit, when I first noticed she was losing weight, I felt that ugly twinge of envy in the pit of my tummy.
I don’t like that I’d feel it each time I saw her, but it’s the truth. I think given my own weight gain this past year, it’s a natural emotion — certainly not one I’m proud of, but the truth of how I felt. And usually, the level of envy was dependent upon how I felt about my own body that given day/night. (Sad, but true).
Then last night at the gym, the envy turned to admiration. It hit me that the same way I was noticing her hard work paying off, noticing her body slimming down … experiencing mixed feelings of envy and admiration, I’d gone through a similar transformation only five years ago, myself!
And for all I know, maybe people had noticed it in my gym back in D.C. (besides the trainer, who always commented about it to me).
Who knows, maybe back then, I was the girl that made someone else envious, or who someone else admired?
That realization was strangely comforting. Not because I liked the idea of knowing that perhaps someone had admired my dedication/transformation back then, but because I liked the realization that we’re all human … and that life kind of goes full-circle.
Suddenly I had this newfound awareness.
Back then I was 24, 25 and felt invincible. I spent all my free time at the gym, focused on my body, obsessing over it. It was the most selfish time of my life, and frankly, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed back then if someone had been eyeing me up. I was admittedly in my own little world.
Yet I remembered how nice it felt to hear people acknowledge my transformation. It gave me confidence, and so I wanted to drop a subtle message to this girl that — not that my opinion matters for squat — but that her efforts weren’t going unnoticed.
I’m a firm believer that women need to be each other’s best and strongest support network. So I decided instead of “competing,” (i.e., feeling envious) I’d rather voice a compliment (express admiration).
I tried to make eye contact with her when I left the gym to flash her a smile, but her back was to me and she was talking to someone else. I’m not discouraged; I’ll just try again next time.
It felt nice to reframe things and admire her dedication vs. being envious of her clear success.
All I know is, I’m glad I can go to sleep with the envy monster tucked deep in my psyche. I know there will be times when she rears her ugly head, but for now, she’s right where she belongs: hidden.
How about you? Have you experienced envy at someone else’s good fortune, weight loss, recovery, career moves, finances, etc.?