I’ve never really felt jealousy, except perhaps as a fleeting memory from childhood when my athletic cousin seemed to excel effortlessly in everything (or at least in the eyes of our family he could do no wrong) Back then, I might have wished for the power to escape consequences. As I reflect on the enigmatic concept of jealousy, I realize that it’s something we seldom admit to having, let alone discussing openly. Yet, my recent introspection has led me to confront a surprising truth: I am, indeed, capable of jealousy.
In the past, I would rationalize away any feelings of jealousy by telling myself that someone’s personality simply didn’t resonate with me. I used to dismiss podcasts as “douchecasts” and found myself predisposed to disliking certain podcasters over others. This perspective took a turn when I stumbled upon “Diary of a CEO” by #SteveBartlett. I found an uncanny resemblance between him and #JayShetty. Steve’s proficiency, youth, intelligence, and appealing appearance never posed a threat, yet a sense of irritation lingered inexplicably.
It wasn’t until I had a realization that the source of my unease was tied to a goal I’d harbored—creating a podcast that explored offbeat and unconventional themes. Steve’s calm demeanor and his mention of his age (30) prompted an unexpected reaction within me. In a moment of clarity, I acknowledged the years that separated us.
I did some quick math and started throwing up fingers, “10, 20…shit!” I muttered, “Oh, it’s been quite a while.” That’s when it clicked: my discomfort emanated from the fact that Steve resembled aspects of who I am—a BIPOC individual working their ass off to make it. Yet here he is, very successful and radiating ease, and embodying the qualities I admire in an interviewer. Calm, reasoned, well-read, with smart questions for his guests.
A juxtaposition ensued. I, someone older, who had charted a life full of unique sacrifices and diverse skillsets, was comparing myself to Steve. This act contradicted my staunch resolve to avoid such comparisons, recognizing that every person’s journey is profoundly distinct. My life, my experiences, and my yardsticks for success—distinctively mine.
As I grapple with these realizations, I acknowledge that jealousy has been with us since Cain and Abel so often most fervently among siblings. I’m hesitant to attribute it solely to human nature, perhaps idealizing humanity more than I should. My ongoing struggle with appreciating #BenHarper for example, someone who I deemed, “too mellow and passive”, highlighted this internal conflict. In these moments, I’ve come to understand that my aversion stems from a mirrored aspect—I glimpse a facet of myself in these individuals. It was my own unexplored skill or talent resonating within me, unrealized yet present. This internal dissonance becomes unsettling, and my subconscious response is to distance myself by saying, “Something about them rubs me the wrong way.” And that’s complete bullshit.
While this reaction may seem trivial, these feelings of masked jealousy are everywhere and experienced daily. I think we need to speak candidly on our jealousies, because this is a deeply human emotion. And if this emotion is denied, suppressed or hidden, I think it can limit and sabotage our progress in life. But also, the anger, frustration and undefinable angst goes away. Then we look at ourselves honestly and start developing our own unique skills. Now I listen to Diary of a CEO and I’m inspired….not trying to rationalize or entertain some ill-defined feeling.
This is part of our complex emotional landscape, yet most are ashamed to admit to this feeling. The shadow cast by jealousy remains largely unspoken.
I propose we delve into this taboo topic, and perhaps these musings might just find their voice in my very first podcast—or “douchecast,” I’m still on the fence about that. Jealousy, the emotion we shy away from, could pave the way for us to shine a light into the darkest corners of our shared human experience.