“I am jealous.” I have heard many people say, “I am jealous.” Indeed, I say it as well and if you think about it, I am sure you have felt it at times, if not actually said.
A bondhu recently asked me, “why are you jealous?” Because I am.
But the bondhu remined me that I need not be. It is a recognition of one of our most fundamental emotions, and as we see the World around us, it is not unusual to feel that there are some ways others are doing much better. Does a person who gets Covid get jealous of the person who has not got the disease?
The more I look around me I see jealousy expressed in so many ways. It is an emotion that ties in with the fundamental sense of personal insecurity and in an age when there are numerous tensors that constantly test us, and as we repeatedly fail, we look at the ones who have succeeded and the sense of jealousy creeps in to cloud our judgment.
Way back, I remember when nearly everyone in my high school class appeared for a competitive examination to earn a national scholarship. Every single friend of mine was awarded the scholarship. I was not. I had failed to perform well enough to be awarded the scholarship. Rummaging through old documents, I discovered a diary from that year. A personal journal that I maintained, was only seventeen years old, but the kid wrote well. The jealousy just sweeps the pages of the days after the results were announced. The complete sense of personal failure needed a balancing emotion and that was jealousy. But some good things came out of that, I write in the journal that I decided to hunker down and make sure I never have to be envious of others who did better.
That is the nature of jealousy, aided by a sense of entitlement and healthy dose of ego and vanity. It can eat you from the inside until a kind bondhu assures you that there is no reason for jealousy, and the unspoken words also say that you are also good. The self-worth that suffers when jealousy sets in is only corrected by the person who assures, “you have nothing to be jealous about.” It is that person who is the one you want to stick around with. Jealousy, strangely also, leads to bondhutva (friendship), when the life-sucking emotion sets in, you need that person who will come and restore the self-esteem that is the victim of jealousy. That is the true bondhu. If you find one, hang on to the person.
Jealousy happens to all of us, and as it happens, and without the correction offered by the bondhu, it eats you from inside until there is nothing left. The classics have worked with this for a long time — the green-eyed monster — and all that stuff. It is only when we are able to abandon vanity and entitlement that jealousy subsides. It is when a bondhu assures that everything is OK, that is when the damaging emotion disappears. Some are fortunate to have such a person in one’s life. It is important to find such a person, who can remind you that you are OK, and you are worthwhile, and even if someone is doing better than you, that does not make you any worse.
Disappoints are a part of life. And jealousy feeds off disappointments, but as MJ, the girl friend of Spiderman in the recent movie says, “if you expect disappointment, then you can never really be disappointed.” Indeed so. Things are not perfect. There will be moments of doubt, there will be moments of utter hopelessness, but you eventually realize that the best response to John Lennon, who says, “Watch out, I’m just a jealous guy/Look out baby, I’m just a jealous guy” comes from a bondhu who simply says, “Don’t be.” If you have such a bondhu, hang on to that person. You are fortunate. That person will have many other bondhus, and don’t be jealous of that. You will ruin a good thing.