Imagine this (Scenario 1): You wake up one morning. You go through the morning routine of struggling out of bed. Your bare feet tingle with some feeling once they hit the floor, as you sleepily drag yourself into the bathroom. Once in, you sit down on your porcelain toilet and open up Instagram. First picture is your high school sweetheart, the one you used to call the ‘love of your life’, with someone else. Someone else is holding that hand: it’s not yours.
Okay, okay. Maybe it’s not high school. Maybe it’s the guy you met in class. Maybe grocery shopping? (Please don’t fucking say Tinder.) What if he’s in a different country, living his best life? He’s happy, beaming with pride about his success. What if she’s content, rejoicing in her newfound freedom? Her smile seems infectious every time you see her, and you realize that she’s happier without you.
You’ll tell me that you don’t care, that you’ve moved on. Bull-fucking-horse-shit; your social media posts suggest otherwise. You know, truthfully, there’s a hint of jealousy.
That guy on Tinder who expresses jealousy when he realizes he’s not the only guy you’ve been talking to? Or the girl who you’ve casually mentioned your exes in front of? Well, everyone feels jealousy. (No one wants to be the ‘other’ or ‘next’ one, ya know?)
Imagine this (Scenario 2): Every day, you log onto social media. There are thousands of social media personalities flaunting perfect physiques, exotic locations, and ludicrous amounts of wealth. You see the next Yeezys, her perfect makeup skills, his perfect abs, and that ridiculous sports car.
But then you think, “Those are celebrities. Of COURSE, they have those things.” Suddenly, your childhood friend that you played in the mud with is opening up a business. That business is successful, and you see the dedication that friend is putting in every day. The labor is intense, the stress hectic. The bills are piling up, but getting paid ahead of time. The business is booming with profit. That friend is waking up early to exercise, and going to bed late to finish all accounts.
Meanwhile, you’re trying to convince yourself on the sofa that you deserve that next slice of XL Papa John’s pizza.
Explanation: My parents divorced when I was still pooping in diapers. I grew up envying others: both their parents were around. My mother worked as a single mother, providing all she could for an unappreciative son. In the Indian community, being a divorced single mother was an anomaly and not positively taken. But my mother excelled in strides, learning English and working hard.
Despite my mother working to provide shelter, food, and education, my discontent stemmed from my jealousy of others. It was easy to sit on my ass and complain about how unfair the world was to me.
When I was punched in the face, it was enough. My mantra became Floyd Mayweather’s: “Hard-work, dedication”. I can’t tell you how hard my mother worked, because I don’t know. She would never tell me, so I learned early on that Lil Wayne verse: “Real G’s move in silence like lasagna”. (Tha Carter V releases tomorrow, 9/27. Yeah, I know. You barely listen to rap; you’ll make fun of me when we’re watching Game of Thrones together, I’m prepared.)
You wanna hear something crazy? Jealousy has become my driving force.
When I went through Army basic training, it took me six months to just pass an Army Physical Fitness Test. Since then, the push is to excel. Not to prove to others that I’m superior, but to remain driven and be better than yesterday. I’m jealous of those that score perfect 300s (while my slow ass struggles to get my 2-mile time below 15 minutes consistently). I’m even jealous of the guys that lift more than me, with more aesthetic physiques.
I’m jealous of those that find success in school easy. I can study for multiple hours and barely scratch a concept, while they manage to sink into its depths within 30 minutes. I have friends that out-earn me, and can afford much nicer things without looking at their bank accounts at the end of every day.
It acts as my fuel for success, motivating me to push harder. The difference is that I don’t let it eat me alive. Because there’s no way to stop negative emotions, only to build off of them. “Hard-work, dedication”. That’s the simple maxim, from every weighted lift to every minute of studying. I live my life with controlled anger, and a ridiculous amount of self-deprecation jokes.
Go ahead. Tell me about all the hours you work for a job you hate. Tell me how it’s unfair that he/she is with someone else, and you can’t even get a text back. Tell me about how hard your life is, and how you find it unfair. Tell me about how bad all your dates go and men/women are trash these days.
Or follow the mantra: “Hard-work, dedication”. First and foremost, build yourself and find your fuel source.
When my heart was broken for the first time, I went home to see Mama Kaur. (She has life easier now, relaxing in a nice house.) She reminded me of a simple truth: someone else’s opinion of you doesn’t need to be your reality. Sometimes the simple lessons are the most important advice. I’m 23 years old, and I still have to respect Mama Kaur for my education outside of school. Thanks to her, I’ve been pushing harder.
That’s not to say that I didn’t think about her a few times. Sometimes, you do need to feel a different type of jealousy to remind yourself that you’re still human (and not a robot writing blog posts, exercising, cutting body fat with intense focus on nutrition, budgeting money, and taking 18 credit hours).
This song was on repeat for days.