I looked out over the sun glinting against the Pacific— the chill of February slipping beneath my light hoodie as I quietly contemplated his question. I can’t even remember the question now, but I remember my answer. “Honestly, It’s been really difficult…” The words faded quietly into a smirk and shake of my head. “Difficult in a very ‘first-world-I-live-in-a-million-dollar-home-and-wake-up-to-this-every-day-sort-of-way,'” I accessorized the connector word of this with a sweeping gesture in the direction of the salt water that hugged the shores of Palos Verdes and the beaches of Hermosa and Manhattan. The place and views were certainly beautiful— and a blessing— but it hadn’t made me feel any more complete or comfortable since my recent career redirection.
To my first-world struggles, he laughed— a chuckle that broke me free from the captivating views of Southern California. I looked at him for a second; searching his crystal blue eyes. I had forgotten how handsome he was, and surprised that I still thought so. He always reminded me of a Danish version of Daniel Craig, although I must admit that I’m not sure I’m comfortable describing a pilot as ‘James Bond-esque.’ It’s ironic how we once lived the exact same lifestyle, albeit slightly different vantage points. Flight crew members carry perspectives that the majority of people who live in one place will never get; perspectives that create an understanding and a bond. The Danish 007 still had the jet lagged lifestyle, and I although I knew the downsides of what he lived and what I left, I missed it. I didn’t really want to be back in that same place, but I really disliked the feelings I was currently sorting through and fighting off.
To be honest, I’ve come down with a condition. It’s not something to go into alarm over, as it’s temporary and a good eye-opener. I don’t actually know what it’s really called, but I’ve dubbed it “Life Envy.” It goes deeper than FOMO. It’s more real than just a bad day at the office or a breakup. It’s like being out of place and waking up from a good dream to the reality that all is mundane. Ultimately, it fucking sucks. Yes. I placed that word in that sentence very strategically, so don’t email me or comment on my FB and tell me not to curse. And yes, now I get what I didn’t understand before. I get that normal jobs are NOT cool. I think “life envy” has probably struck everyone at some point in their lifetime. Your neighbors just had the cutest baby, and you can’t get pregnant. You just went through a devastating breakup, and your best friend is totally head-over-heels in love. You keep seeing everyone traveling and loving their life, and all you get is two weeks vacation a year. Living and loving that ‘American Dream,’ right? Yeah, go figure. The land of opportunity. It’s not that you aren’t happy for other people, you simply wonder, “Can I catch a break?”
So, we need to put this thing in perspective, because if we don’t do that, this ‘Life Envy’ thing will takeover. It will bitter you up and break you, unless you choose to flip-the-switch and let everyone else’s AMAZING life inspire you. You know what Danish James Bond said when I verbalized my ‘Life Envy?’ He laughed. It was a good laugh like he thought my life was a little bit of a joke, and I was being dramatic. Ok. So, that’s very Danish of him, and I’m obviously very American. Fair enough. But, what he said was this: “Why don’t you see everyone you want to be— and the lives that you envy— as a source of inspiration? Let them inspire you.” Well thanks Danish 007. You do have a knack for solving catastrophic situations with calm.
I tell you about my ‘Life Envy,’ because I am vulnerable and weak at times. I live a pretty nice existence, but I face days where I really struggle to see the nice things. I sometimes whisper, “I don’t think I’m strong enough to handle this today.” And then, I take a breath and look for another perspective. When you struggle and envy someone else, you must realize that the people who you want to be are often living their own challenges. To be alive means we will live with problems. Problems are simply part of being alive.
I have this friend named Crystal and she’s living my dream— traveling to all of these beach destinations to kite. She’s doing this at anytime she wants. And some days, I think, “I just wish I could be Crystal.” Somedays, I’m much stronger and I think, “Wow— that’s so cool I have a friend to look up to and a place where I can closely witness what is possible in life.” I’m proud of Crystal. I am inspired by her. I am happy for her, but I don’t always go there first. I go to wishing I had it different. Remember, it’s about perspective. Envious or inspiring? It’s really our choice of what we see.
I know I don’t want anyone else’s problems, so why do I keep asking for anyone else’s life? I know that how things look on the outside isn’t always how the adventure is on the inside, but knowing and living are completely different. That’s why I need a plan to get through my ‘life envy.’
What’s my plan? It’s simple really. I just have to do it.
Find the inspiring perspective.
Get out of myself
Three steps to help me change perspective. That’s not a lot. It’s not too much. It doesn’t take tons of time to go t0 gratefulness, looking at life differently, or being unselfish, and it becomes more simple with practice. So, I got to practice and so do you.
My life is filled with things and people to be thankful for, and everyday, I have to take time to write these and contemplate on my world of blessings. I need to more often choose the inspiring vantage point as opposed to the envious one. Griffin has been one of my biggest sources of inspiration recently. I want to be genuinely happy for people and their success, and my friend Alana is really good at this. She’s always so happy for the moments when her friends do well and so encouraging when their lives aren’t as well.
I can see how I’ve been quietly acting selfish, insecure, and jealous recently. Nobody really knows this but me, and it’s quite embarrassing to admit, because I have want for nothing. I live in upscale suburbia, blocks from the beach. My parents have always been happily married. My blog and writing is moving forward. I have a good job. I have the best circle of friends. I have a plan and purpose for my life. It’s just, I get lost in myself way too often. I get lost in the grind of today. So, I need to do more of giving back. I need to practice gratitude. I need to do things that remind me of how good I have it.
It’s very true that in life, we will face seasons where everyone else’s adventure looks SO much better than our own, but own your adventure! It can never compare to what else is out there. It just can’t, because you are so completely unique. That apples and oranges cliche exists for a reason. Own the good adventures and the not-so-wonderful; the uncomfortable and the lovely. When I compare and live my life with envy, I forget that it’s me and God, walking together towards my Destiny. I don’t walk with anyone else. It’s not their road. It’s not their path. I’ll never win the game of comparisons, and you won’t either.
You know, if I never quit The Airline, I would have never been forced to examine thought patterns and behavior that is negative and damaging. I wouldn’t be sharing this with you right now, and although I don’t like that I’m telling you the ugly sides of who I am, I’m actually incredibly grateful for the understanding that it’s giving. I’m also really, really thankful for this time, because I am learning. I’m learning that I can’t always have what I want immediately. I’m learning that I need to build more ‘mental toughness.’ I’m learning that there are a lot of aspects of my character that I need to work on. What’s crazy cool is that I am now blessed with the opportunity to work. That’s what challenges do. They make you grow, and when you aren’t growing, you either are dead, or you feel dead. I don’t want either one of those right now. It’s ok that I don’t necessarily enjoy this time of learning and challenge, but I still must face it and choosing to face it with acceptance, sans envy, will make a world of difference.