If your own face is clean, the image you perceive will also be flawless. But should you look upon your fellow man and see a blemish, it is your own imperfection that you are encountering – you are being shown what it is that you must correct within yourself.The Baal Shem Tov
(NOTE: My favorite YouTuber Natalie Wynn a.k.a. ContraPoints, in her latest one-hour-and-forty-eight-minute video essay, presented the many different manifestations of envy and what it does to us. I will not be summarizing her discussion or my takeaways here because a lowly peasant must not dare – seriously, just watch it. It’s worth the rare time you’re going to be virtually slapped in the face.)
When I was in high school, I hated Heart Evangelista to the core. I hated seeing her on TV. I hated hearing her horrible songs. Every time I saw her anywhere, I’d roll my eyes and comment something mean. If there was YouTube or Instagram back then already, I’d surely be her number one troll.
Then, finally, my cousin, Ate Abi asked why I hated Heart. I said she’s maarte. But what did she do to you personally? Ate Abi asked. Of course, I can’t answer. I didn’t have an answer. Heart does not even know me… or care. Ate Abi said, “My professor said if we hate someone who has not done anything to us, it is either because we see in them the things we hate about ourselves, or they have something we badly want but can’t.”
It was one of my most humiliating and enlightening earliest memories. Truly, the only reason I hated Heart was she had everything I wanted. She’s pretty. She’s super-rich. She’s famous. She has number one songs. She’s just a few years older than me but she has accomplished so much. I was forced to recognize my insecurities and the high, miserable reality that I will never be all those things.
I am trying my hardest to change and see the beauty in people instead, but I’m only human and I inevitably fail. When our office hired nurses, I hated one of them with all my energy. I thought her too loud, too crass. She smokes, she curses, and she says what she wants when she wants. Hating on her had become my obsession, to the point that I hated my then-boyfriend for being friends with her. But I had to admit to myself that the only reason I hated her was I wanted to be like her: free. I also wish I could be so frank, so open. I wish I could curse. Sometimes, I wish I am cool, too. Her freedom is something I don’t have the courage to want because I created this cultured, refined persona that I can’t get out of.
I also feel resentment for current college students because nowadays, everyone seems to be on the honor roll. It seems everyone is a summa cum laude, a magna cum laude, a cum laude, a university scholar, a college scholar, or a dean’s lister. When I was in college, it was hard to be on the honor roll. I scroll past their Facebook posts, thinking if we were in a pandemic back in 2005 to 2009 and access to technology then was as easy as now, I, too, would have graduated at least a cum laude. I hope professors today are not so lenient. No, to be even more honest, I hope they decide to go back to their “terror prof” days. But this is my intellectual insecurity speaking. This manifests all the regrets I still have for not taking college seriously.
To envy is human, but envy is still a harmful and pointless emotion. And envy is never productive. Instead of being happy for the good fortune of others, I sulk. I dig for their flaws, and finding one, I rejoice. When I hear of their misfortunes, I secretly feel happy. If my life can’t be perfect, no one’s life can.
Drafting this blog post is not a positive experience. It reminds me of the insecurities that have been hounding me my whole life – of my appearance, of my social status, of my reputation, of my boring existence, of my failures. It’s shameful to admit that I harbor such contempt for other people’s successes.
But accepting that this part of me exists is the first step to turning it into something positive, something fruitful. Like self-improvement. Like emulation. Like teaching myself to be genuinely happy for others. Like being actually happy.
As Natalie Wynn said in the last part of her best video essay so far:
Nothing is less attractive than an envious, resentful, self-pitying person. It’s beyond a personality flaw. It’s a personality deformity that can ruin whatever chance at happiness you have. So in the short time that you’re alive, you have to discover that which is noble in yourself and say “Yes” to it.ContraPoints (2021)
P.S. Yesterday was our due date but so far I have no labor signs yet. I’m not even dilated as of August 17. 😦 Please pray that I get to deliver a happy, healthy baby very soon. Thank you.