envy (noun): a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck
jealous (adjective): feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages
Envy, like its not-quite-synonym jealousy, is one of the less noble of human qualities. The difference between envy and jealousy is that envy is a bit broader in scope, whereas jealousy is usually concentrated on one individual.
Unfortunately, for me envy has been a chronic and severe condition as far back as I can remember, undoubtedly stemming from a deep-rooted sense of inadequacy…of not being who and what I so desperately have wanted to be; of not living up to my own expectations; of constantly being exposed to others who possess qualities (though, interestingly, seldom “things”) I wish I had. (I long ago adopted being self-deprecatory as a perverse form of defense mechanism: I’ll tell you how inferior I am before you can tell me. Not healthy, I know.)
I envy those younger, more attractive, more intelligent, more thoughtful, more talented than I. And often it goes far beyond just a casual sense of wishing to a soul-deep, chest-ache longing. I’m not sure how one can experience a sense of loss over something one has never had, but I do.
I envy those more intelligent than I. As I’ve often said, my knowledge is broad but extremely shallow. To quote the old song, “I know a little bit about a lot of things, but…” I have read a great deal, but never enough to feel qualified to have a truly meaningful discussion on the classics.
I envy those who are seemingly (though realizing “seemingly” may be the operative word) at ease in social situations involving people they do not know; who can express their enthusiasm in crowds with shouts and cheers; who can dance without thinking or caring how they look to others.
I envy those who have the time to read voraciously. I don’t read nearly as much as I used to, or as I should, partly because when I read the words of others I often feel intimidated. I have no doubt that I’m a good writer…just not good enough.
The vast bulk of the things I envy are based on the fact that I am a homosexual in a predominantly straight world that I have never understood, and am therefore always afraid of embarrassing myself. I suspect one of the reasons…if there are reasons…I am homosexual is because I so long to be so many things I find in other men. From childhood, I’ve always been attracted to males I wish I were like. And, in the days when I was still an active part of the gay community, to be able to actually go home with someone to whom I was attracted provided an almost euphoric sense of validation. (“See, you’re not as ugly as you think you are.”)
And having said all the above, having made a case for the emotional hazards of negative thinking, I must point out that all these unhealthy things, which could easily create serious depression, are offset by the one characteristic of which I am most proud: I never, even under the worst circumstances, allow myself to take myself too seriously.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1), which is also available as an audiobook (http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B00DJAJYCS&qid=1372629062&sr=1-1).