Image Credits: Jealousy by chpsauce at http://chpsauce.deviantart.com/art/Jealousy-122103700
It was the same old day in school. She was radiant, brilliant and amazing. But I sat and sulked in the corner, because I thought nobody liked me because of her. It was childish in retrospect, but I wanted to be popular and loved. As the only child who never really had to compete for parental affection, it took me a long time to realize that there were only some people in the world who would accept me for me. For the rest, I had to either serve their needs to keep up an appearance of doing so. Even then, it didn’t quite help me get over being jealous.
Strangely enough, I think one of the reasons I liked her was also because she was funny and charming and so amiable. It was really impossible to hate her, but I did and yet she was one of the few people who still cares about me. Looking back at it, I park those days under the list of things I’m really ashamed of myself for. More than the sentiment, it was perhaps my methods of dealing with it which make me cringe even more so. One of the things that truly rankled me about her was how people let her get away with almost everything because she could be so charming. I felt it was unfair how the world expected me to be good and righteous and serious all the time, but she could goof off and nobody complained. In the beginning I used to preach to her, until one day she confessed to me that despite my earnest and “well-meaning” admonitions, she really couldn’t help being carefree. People accused me of being overbearing and attempting to change her into another version of me. I was appalled, because I self-righteously thought I was doing the right thing. But now I realize they were right. I was trying to pull her down into some level of being equated to me, even though we were two different people.
Then, it came to a point where I had to learn to deal with being in the shadows. I didn’t mind it too much, I suppose, but I still couldn’t help begrudging her. Often, I would throw temper tantrums at her and walk away, but she, the amazing person that she is, would come back after me, apologize for some fault that wasn’t even hers and employ her charm in winning me back. True to its reputation, it worked. This left me feeling even more confused than ever How could she be so nice to me when I hated myself? I’m really glad that she chose to forgive me, and we are still good friends, albeit a lot far away than we used to be. Sometimes, it made me wonder why she chose to forgive me and I promised to be patient for her sake, in some sort of tribute to the beautiful person that she was.
Unfortunately, I wish I could say that my annoying propensity to be jealous had a short life-span. For almost years that nagging little voice kept complaining in my head, “Look at him/her. They’re so awesome / brilliant / accomplished / attractive. Look at your puny self. What are you?” Compelled by some self-fulfilling prophecy I would then despise myself and then attempt to resolve the cognitive dissonance by projecting my hate on them, citing them as the source of my weaknesses. Through the progression of time, it grew into a multifaceted mutant. It wasn’t just collective appreciation I was looking for. It was now appreciation from a very specific person that I was seeking and which I was denied. “What is it about her that makes her appealing?” was the fundamental premise of that argument. In my mind, I would try to reconstruct these people as objects of affection and then evaluate them against some set criteria dictated by society. There were times when I took a malicious delight in discovering their not-so-apparent flaws. But more so, I often discovered what made these people truly special. In being jealous, I had learned to appreciate them.
Another step in silencing that voice came from the idea of being myself. I was tired of being unique and different and being cast aside. But then, I realized that the very thing I was trying to push away was actually an integral part of my identity. I was not them. I was never going to be them. But hey, I was me, so I had to make the best of it since that was the only thing I could be. To my surprise, as I started wearing my own skin better, I realized that I had people who liked and admired me too. I didn’t have to force myself to be someone else, and in doing so I discovered my own potential to be something more. This may sound weird, but I’m grateful for all those times I forced myself to be someone else. It made me realize just how different other people and personas can be. More so, there is nothing as refreshing as rediscovering yourself.