On Tuesday after work, I met an old friend for a walk. The air was warm and the Highlands were dancing - the sidewalks filled with people and strollers and dogs taking long sips of the first of spring. We talked hurriedly - updating one another on the last few weeks; the balmy air filling us with energy.
She told me about her plans to leave Atlanta; she and her husband are taking their sweet baby and moving north. I asked a million questions about when and where and couldn't have felt more excited for her. They're beginning a new adventure; a brand new chapter for their tiny family.
But, I detected something in the ugliest part of me that I wish I hadn't felt. I tried to ignore it, but it keep sneaking up.
So, I told her: "I couldn't be more excited for you. But I am a tiny bit jealous."
It's not that I want was she has. In fact, these days what I want is quite the opposite. So what was it?
When we're feeling jealous, it is normally for one of three reasons:
- Someone else is getting something you want. You might want it now or in 10 years. But you know you want what they have.
- You're afraid you're getting left behind.
- You're afraid there won't be enough for you and that this is an economy of scarcity.
As we finished our walk, she asked me for details on our wedding. I told her how the changing season was making it feel so close. We are in spring and we are getting married in spring! Holy cow!
After a few questions she sighed and said, "Oh, spring makes me feel so nostalgic for our wedding."
I smiled at her words. Does she want to go back in time? Of course not.
But, just like the future can tempt us with what we don't have, the past can tempt us with what we once had.
The key is understanding that the playing field is constantly shifting. There will always be someone who has what we want. And we will always have what someone else wants.
By practicing gratitude, we can avoid being overcome with jealousy or nostalgia.
After we'd parted ways, I ran into another friend. She was on a third date with a guy she likes a lot. They were giddy with the kind of energy you only have in the beginning - when you wonder if he meant to touch your hand and his smile makes your heart flip.
For a brief moment, I thought: Ah, I miss that phase with Chris. And then I laughed at myself. Isn't that the way it goes? From yearning for a baby and a big move to dreaming of the early days of dating, our hearts are constantly seeking and our minds are always racing. We compare and stress and let jealousy make us believe we don't have enough.