“As a woman in my arena you are not my competition.
As a woman in my arena your light doesn’t make mine any dimmer.”
One of the things I’m most reluctant to admit to myself is jealousy. Because admitting I feel jealous means admitting I feel inadequate, and no one wants to have to unpack their own limitations.
Last year when I first started law school I was jealous a lot, because I felt inadequate a lot. I was surrounded by people that, at least ostensibly, looked as though they knew what they wanted, and where they were going, and how they could get there. And I didn’t even know the answer to the first question.
I started doubting my own path and fretting over all the reasons why I couldn’t keep up with the footsteps of those I believed to be ahead of me. Those who had moved out of home. Those who had travelled to far away places. Those who found love, found supportive friends, found themselves. They were where I wanted to be but could not yet reach.
Jealousy is something we tend to bury deep beneath the surface, so it manifests itself instead as hatred, or facetiousness, or apathy, or egotism. And its many guises render it something that no one ever truly discusses. “I’m jealous of her” becomes “She’s trying too hard”, “I feel inadequate when she talks about x” becomes “She talks way too much about x”. We start losing touch with the actuality of our feelings and start feeding a constructed reality that better conforms to our own egoistic desire to feel in control and feel as though we are enough.
We all internally compare ourselves to the other, and in our speech compare the other to ourselves. We hold our inner selves to the standard of the other’s outer, and the other’s outer to the standard of our own shell. And as such, there’s a discrepancy between who we are and the reality of who we believe other’s to be.
Because everybody deals with jealousy. Everybody feels, in some way or another, in big or small ways, that they’re not enough and that what they’re doing will never amount to enough. So we build and build our facades of external adequacy, which only serves to fuel other’s inner chasm of inadequacy, so they build, and we fall, and we build and they fall, and every body ends up feeling worse for it all.
Vulnerability is something I aim to embody with all my being. But vulnerability isn’t always beautiful ramblings and poetic ruminations. It can be ugly and it can be hard to swallow. Such is the nature of our lives. Vulnerability means authenticity and that means we must attempt to digest that which we do not want to.
This post started out in a different direction than it ended up going. I intended to write about my past experience with jealousy, and how I overcame it by embracing my own imperfect conception self. But the (ugly) truth is that jealousy isn’t something that fades with age. We all feel insecure because we are all human, and it is our nature to perpetually grasp for that which we feel we do not have. The inherent limitations of our own subjective reality relegates us to imagined scenarios of other’s grandiosity and forces us to cower behind our own perceived fallibility.
And we are fallible.
But never to the extent that we imagine ourselves to be.