I thought jealousy was a forbidden emotion. One of the 10 commandments is “Thou shalt not covet.” And as a small child in Sunday school, I was taught that the word “covet” basically meant being jealous.
However, as a thirty year old, I have come to realise that there is a huge difference between “coveting” and “being jealous.” In fact, I would go as far as to declare that jealousy can be a positive, helpful emotion. It is needed, in fact.
In the bible, King David spotted the lovely Bathsheba bathing while he was working on a rooftop. (“Working?” Hmm. More like spying.) If this basic breach of privacy wasn’t bad enough, he plotted to have her husband sent to war on the frontlines and abandoned by his men. Uriah, was killed by the enemy, convenient for King David eh? Then he took Bathsheba for his wife.
Now, that’s coveting. Wanting something (or someone) that doesn’t belong to you and even going at lengths to obtain it/them.
But what about jealousy? Was he jealous of Uriah, having such a beautiful wife? Sure, but how could jealousy be a useful emotion?
Let’s put the Bible stories aside and look at the present for now, shall we?
Let’s take me, for example. (For no man is useless, he/she can always serve as a bad example.)
I have this friend, who is simply gorgeous. She’s got the perfect figure, used to be a model and has three beautiful boys and rounded off her perfect family with a gorgeous daughter. Not only that, she’s witty and fun to be around, everyone likes her. Her house is like a real-life portrayal of a magazine. She has it all. There’s literally nothing you could not like about this person either. To top it off, she’s one of the kindest people on the planet – she will (and has) drop everything and come running to help anyone in need.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my life. My family are the best. I wouldn’t exchange my life for hers – (see, if I was coveting, I’d go on a dark path to steal her life, which would be an interesting movie plot.)
But then one day, she told me she was going to be an extra in a TV show.
Acting, is something I have dreamed about all my life. Next to writing, it’s been a passion. And yet I never considered it possible (I still don’t!) because – I’m not skinny enough, I can’t drive very far, I home educate my kids, I need to look after the dog, I have anxiety…..99 other excuses loading.
And yet, here’s my friend, who has a baby – a BABY – and she’s living “the dream.” She’s actually doing it.
If I let it, the jealousy would have consumed me and made me shrivel up into a human-raisin. My face would be all twisted and sour and I’d walk around hunched over with a limp and talk in a crooked voice. “Well, well deary, aren’t you a lucky one??”
I’m kidding – I think. But I really was very jealous and I was worried about what it would do to our friendship. Could I swallow my pride and be happy for her?
Hmm. Maybe not totally, I point blank told her how jealous I was. Then I clapped (figuratively) anyway, and cheered her on.
I was able to be happy for her because I love her. And even though she was doing things and achieving things I’ve always dreamed of doing, I was proud of her for showing me something.
I can pursue my dreams too.
I can try and do something daring as well.
No more excuses. I rolled my sleeves up and set to work.
For me, I didn’t feel comfortable with going down the acting route. But there’s one thing I do every day without even thinking and something I enjoy doing a little bit more than acting.
So there you have it. That is my story of how jealousy kick-started my career.
If you’re feeling jealous towards someone, allow it to flood hope and determination within you. Be inspired by the success of others. Ask questions. Champion them. Be proud of them.
Because when you feel jealousy, it might just mean you’re ready to do something incredible too.
You just gotta find out what it is.