One of the things that comes with a $300,000 education, aside from extreme gratitude for the opportunities one has been given, is sort of exactly the opposite: gratitude for envy. Educated by the grace of financial aid, scholarships, and the sacrifices of my parents, I was the poor kid in school, yet accepted and loved into a social class in which I did not belong. I experienced how envy, if caught and properly acknowledged, can be a powerful tool to one’s own personal awakening in life. Envy taught me that the grass will always been greener on the other side of the fence and it is what we do with this knowledge that matters.
I still remember my awakening to envy during my formative years at boarding school after finding out that my Christmas just didn’t measure up to my friends’ who received $150,000 horses and trips to Paris. Suddenly, my two nice new sweaters from Express just didn’t seem as nice. The funny thing about envy is that is doesn’t ever stop, no matter how mature you might be. Pulbius Syrus once said that “to withstand the assaults of envy, you must be either a hero or a saint.” Moreover, most of us would hesitate to admit our battles with envy, for as the 17th Century La Rochefoucald stated, “envy is so shameful that we never dare confess it.”
I think that the things that we are most ashamed of are the things worthy of being talked about, because without acknowledging them and working through them, they will never just “disappear” as we would hope they would. If anyone of us wants to be a greater version of ourselves, we must admit our failings of envy. With the right attitude, envy can be a powerful tool of humility, reminding us that there is nothing good that comes out of comparing ourselves or our lives to that of another person.
The truth is that no matter what happens in life, there will always, and I repeat, always be someone richer, smarter, skinnier, stronger and luckier than you. Do not be surprised at this. I am extremely grateful for my education at Chatham Hall and Davidson College, for it exposed me to people who will constantly remind me of the power of this truth. Life is not a game to be won, it is a journey to be experienced. Stop letting envy invade you, and instead, catch it when you feel it and turn it around into something beneficial. Take the time to water your own grass of happiness, for happiness is the one thing in life that you do have control over. It’s time to stop looking at the other side of the fence at all and to make the most of the grass that you have been given.