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E is for "Envy"

“E” is for “Envy”

Another letter of the Alphabyte

Envy is an ugly, ugly, selfish, guilt-inducing, emotion. I suppose it is natural, as emotions are, but it is not one I like to experience, one I hate to express, and one I feel a lot more often than I would like to admit.

I feel envious most often when I realize that I cannot afford many small luxuries that most of my friends and peers take for granted. When I have to bow out of a night out at the movies because I am too broke. When I can’t go out for dinner on my birthday because it would bottom out the checking account, and I won’t get paid for another two weeks. When I realize the last vacation we have taken took place six years ago (six years ago in two weeks, to be exact) when we went on our honeymoon when we got married. I sometimes get envious of people who have jobs in their fields, or at least jobs that they really like. I get envious of girls with slim legs and perfect skin and two discrete eyebrows. I get envious of kids whose college was paid for by their parents, who had the luxury of pissing about partying and slacking.

I get these nasty, mean, petulent flashes of “oh, you spoiled little fucker,” from, time to time, when I get envious of someone else. And then I feel ashamed for being such a greedy, whiny, covetous bitch. I mean, really.

I’ve got a lot of good stuff going on that other people probably envy. I’m married to a hilarious, loving, laid-back guy, and we have a great relationship. We live in a really cute little house that we are actually paying on (for the next 30 years) so we are homeowners, which isn’t something most young working class folks can say for themselves. We’ve got a cute, reliable car (which we’ll be paying on for the next two-and-a-half years). We’re healthy, we’ve got pretty good lifestyle habits, and we come from pretty tough genetic stock. We’re both creative, we’re both pretty well educated, and neither of us is a complete dumbass, so that’s something.

These flashes of envy–they’re momentary, they are irrational, they pass, and I fully recognise them for being the bullshit they are. That doesn’t stop them from happening, and from being embarrasing, annoying, and a bit distructive to the spirit, but I do at least try to keep them in perspective. I try to recognise that all of my envy stuff is over very superficial, material crap. A meal out is a one-shot thing. Yes, good food is one of those grand pleasures in life, but I am a pretty good cook here at home, and really, eating, full-stop, is more important than eating to celebrate some arbirtary event. I remember my days of lurking outside receptions in grad school, waiting for the participants to clear out so that I could slip in with my capacious briefcase full of plastic bags and nab any sandwich and piece of fruit that wasn’t nailed down and/or obviously masticated. I’m not having to scavenge anymore, nor do I expect to again. That right there is something to celebrate, here at home.

I’m not poor, I’m working-class, and at least I’m working, given the state of the economy. A lot of the reasons for our state of constant impecuniousness derive from decisions that we have made which will ultimately be beneficial, if they are inconvenient, now. These include student loans for education, and the car payments. The house I don’t consider so much of a financial burden, since our payments are about equivalent to what we were paying in rent for an apartment with less square footage and no yard and basement, and the utilities and suchlike aren’t that much higher. So yeah, good choices, probably overall, but straitening choices at the moment.

Eh. Anyhow, if anyone has any suggestions for stopping feeling envious at all, feel free to e-mail me.

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