The Problem with Stealing Lives that are Not Ours.
Jealousy is an easy rut to fall into—especially in this day and age of social media.
All you need to do is log into Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, and all that you see is just how well everyone is doing. Your childhood bully just got married to the hottest, sweetest, richest person you’ve ever seen. That girl whom you talked to once at work just had the most beautiful baby you’ve ever seen, and all that she can talk about is how happy she is. Your ex just found the job of their dreams and is taking everyone they know (except you) out for sushi to celebrate. And here you are, sitting in your underwear on social media, wishing that you had even half of what they have.
A year ago, I got pretty caught up in my jealousy. I was at university, pursuing my bachelor’s degree and getting pretty good grades. But at the same time, I was single, I was unemployed, and I was feeling like I was missing out on something. I was good at the whole academic thing, and I enjoyed it, but other people had such different lives, and they all seemed so much happier than I was.
And upon graduating, I saw the perfect opportunity to get out of my life. I was going to pursue a so-called normal life like everyone else had.
I tried to live like the people I was so jealous of. I tried to talk the way that they talked and do the things that they did, but it never felt natural to me. It always felt a bit like I was a puzzle piece, trying to force myself into a spot where I didn’t belong. I couldn’t get the happy and stable relationship that I saw advertised on social media because I wasn’t sure of what I wanted. I couldn’t be satisfied with how I was filling the time because it wasn’t me. I found myself missing my old academic life because I enjoyed it. It felt natural to me. And there was certainly nothing wrong with this life that I had forced myself into—I knew that it suited other people fine. It just didn’t suit me.
I began to understand this feeling a little better when I began to read about the yogic principle of Asteya.
Asteya essentially means “non-stealing” which might make you wonder how in the hell Asteya has anything to do with what I said. But the purpose of Asteya is not to simply refrain from taking material goods from other people when you do not deserve them. Rather, Asteya urges one to look deeper into themselves, to try to discover the reason why you feel the need to steal from them.
In the scenario that I presented to you, I was stealing a bit of a life that did not belong to me. I didn’t fit into it, it wasn’t made for me, but I wanted it. I wanted it because I thought that I should have it. I wanted it because I thought that what I had wasn’t good enough. I thought so because I was good at reading and thinking critically and writing long essays, but I wasn’t good at all those things that you see people bragging about on social media. Getting an ‘A’ on an assignment doesn’t exactly get you the same kind of attention as receiving a diamond ring from your sweetheart even if you pulled an all-nighter to do it.
We all have our strengths and we all have our weaknesses. We can work on our weaknesses, most certainly, but being honest about ourselves, being aware of who we are as a person will make it easier to work on those weaknesses than ignoring them ever would.
And maybe we will have the picture-perfect, bragging-rights-on-social-media type of life someday. But if we are ever going to achieve that, then it shouldn’t be forced, and it shouldn’t be created despite discomfort; it should all happen naturally. Otherwise, we aren’t happy, are we?
And maybe we won’t ever achieve that sort of life, and that’s okay too. Maybe our happiness comes from different sources than other people’s happiness. Maybe our happiness isn’t found in a baby’s laugh, or a lover’s embrace, or a high-paying so-called real job. Maybe we have to create our own happiness. As long as it is peaceful and natural and fulfilling, then it is valid. We are valid. We are enough.
I think that many of us get so easily caught up in jealousy because we have this internalized idea that we aren’t right, or we aren’t enough. We might not even be aware that this is so, but we feel it nonetheless. And when we are jealous, then we try to take lives that are not made for us. We try to force ourselves to do things that we are not ready for because we think we aren’t valid if we don’t.
If we haven’t fulfilled the same accomplishments as some of our peers quite yet, it doesn’t mean we won’t ever fulfill them. Every single human being is different; every single human being grows and develops at their own pace. There is no need to rush if we are not ready because what we want will come to us in its own time. It’s okay if we aren’t there yet. So, for now, we should just have faith in that, and find comfort in the knowledge that what we are right now is exactly what we should be.
Author: Ciara Hall
Editor: Angel Lebailly
Copy & Social editor: Nicole Cameron
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