I Feel Petty, Oh So Petty

The Seven Vices - Envy, by Giotto (1306, Fresc...
The Seven Vices – Envy, by Giotto (1306, Fresco, 120 x 55 cm, Cappella degli Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua, Italy) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is a list of a dozen shallow things of which I feel deeply envious:

  1. Engagement photos
  2. Wedding dresses
  3. Baby showers
  4. Decorating a baby nursery
  5. Job promotions
  6. Honeymoons
  7. World travel
  8. Happy family vacations
  9. Stylish yoga clothes
  10. Going out for happy hour/ movie/ dancing–whatever
  11. Jogging with a friend
  12. Terraced front gardens

Why? I’ve been married twice. I’ve had two babies. I am in love with my husband, who is a wonderful father, friend, and lover. We even go to yoga together and have several date nights a month.

By most counts, I’m a lucky woman. I have things–resources, privileges, experiences, knowledge–that many people around the world would feel grateful for.

Yet I struggle with this feeling of incompleteness, of lack. Partly, it must be because so many changes happened so quickly without being able to mark them with the rituals, traditions, and symbols we take for granted in our culture. A shotgun wedding, a premature baby, not being able to move in with my new husband until his–our–house was finished getting remodeled. I should be filled with joy, and yet, it’s there: that emptiness. That comparison of my life to others’ that leaves me feeling like I’ve missed out on something.

Are you envious of silly things? Do you have any idea why?

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Part of the solution since 1973.

32 thoughts on “I Feel Petty, Oh So Petty

  1. I definitely have my moments of feeling like someone else’s grass is greener. Sometimes I have to have a little internal tantrum about it before I can let it go. Sometimes it sticks around for quite a while. Learning to have patience and compassion for myself has helped – knowing it is OK to feel these things helps me move through them.

    1. Writing is amazing. Now I understand why you’ve been doing it all these years. Why is it amazing? Because, now, somehow, I feel validated and accepting of myself and all that good stuff. Amazing.

      Also: weird, but nice.

      1. Thanks for helping inspire me to get back to it. It does feel amazing. Parts of my brain that I miss a lot go quiet when I am not writing.

        weird, but nice. ah…such good memories.

  2. I too am envious of a number of things you listed, and also women who seem to have no trouble staying thin. I cope with my green monster by reflecting on the many, many joys in my life. And, admittedly, reflecting on the shitty thing about others lives. I won’t lie.

  3. First of all I think that you’re entitled to feel, as you say, “petty”. I say, human. A fable that has always resonated with me is “The Tortoise and the Hare”. I’m a big believer that slow and steady wins the race — not that I have any great personal proof of this, other than not feeling like I’ve lost.

  4. Welcome to the human race. All the saints go through life loving the way life is sooo complete. You, me and the rest have to sometimes look, for a moment, at the other side of the fence. We get what we need.

  5. You need to quit comparing yourself to successful people who are achieving these things that you envy and compare your life to low lives instead. I find when I’m feeling a little down that watching 10 minutes of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo puts me in a good place. Then my wife reminds me they make like $20 grand per episode and pisses all over my good feelings, but still, for a few minutes all is well.

  6. That’s one of the big reasons people get depressed by sites like facebook. People only present their best face there, and hide the ugly bits. Same with church – you always see families dressed and behaving at their best. You don’t know that they argued all the way to the church.

    1. Exactly! FB is definitely part of the underlying cause for this pettiness. That’s one of the reasons I spend more time on WP now: real people exploring their shit.
      I don’t mean that literally.
      Well, most people here PROBABLY aren’t literally exploring their feces.

      1. That’s why I quit facebook. Although if you’ll look at my post, you’ll see that makes one a hipster douchebag. According to Huffpo.

        I bet there are blogs about exploring feces – well, technically I explore metaphorical feces, but I bet there’s real ones. I’m not going to look, though.

      1. Speaking of toys coming alive, we just inherited a bunch of creepy dolls from my mom. I hope they wish us well, not ill, because they look like they could really do a number on us.

  7. Oh, this is so powerful! I read through your list and nodded on all things because I feel that way, too, but I never really thought about why. I do know when I was a single mother of my two older children, I used to hate going to birthday parties with them because I always felt so envious of the married parents. Great post!!

    1. Thank you! So glad you could relate. Being a single mother is soooo hard. In fact, I think that’s when some of this ‘green streak’ kicked in for me. Now, it’s almost a residue of that time. A hangover. Hmm. Something to ponder!

  8. Honestly, I don’t spend too much time envying little–or even big–things. I think it’s because I get so absorbed inside my own little head that I often fail to notice things going on around me. Except for my kids. I notice them. Thank goodness for that. 😉

  9. I think I’ve felt that way once, but I don’t have it in me anymore. All those things you listed I didn’t/don’t have, neither do I have the things that you do have (the date nights and so on). Our couple life is basically non-existent, I don’t even care. I think you might prefer being a little “petty” over being somebody like me.

    1. We all have so many layers, don’t we? We are all unique combinations of grief and joy, regret and acceptance, isolation and connection. I wrote this so I could let go of these silly hang-ups and move on, be grateful for what I have.

      I’m not sure whether you’re saying you’re in a state of acceptance or a state of numbness or, maybe, both?

      1. I have no idea to be honest. I didn’t mean to seem like I’m criticizing (I totally remember where you’re coming from), maybe I envy you for being envious and trying to make things better. I just find envy so tiring personally, so whenever I feel it, I basically stab it to death, ha.

  10. I know how you feel, Kylie. I struggle with feeling envious about some really petty things. I would compare myself to a lot other people and feel like I was lacking. But ya know what? Some of the things I PERCEIVED as being the ‘better’ bargain, turned out to be rubbish because what I was seeing on the outside was just a facade that hid some ugliness on the inside. For example, being envious about couples that took their kids to the park together – my husband was a student and/or working side jobs…and all the envy was for nada b/c the couple I ‘envied’ turned out to be divorcing rather quickly. So I think we always feel others are having it better than us – but usually it’s not so cut & dried! I love that your honesty about it – it makes me feel less odd that I have those same feelings.

    1. I’m so glad to hear that you have these feelings too. I know they’re odd, and silly, and have much more to do with how I’m feeling about myself–and work I need to do on my psyche–than it does with anybody else.

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