Why Jealousy is a Tough-Love Friend (And How It Teaches You Purpose)

Emotions are neither “good” nor “bad”. It’s important to just let them happen, to acknowledge their presence, even welcome them, like a visitor in your house. If we sit and listen, perhaps a lesson will spur growth.

Jealousy Helped Me Realize I Was Wasting My Talents. 

College was a weird time for me. There were a couple of years when I didn’t pick up a musical instrument. My keyboard sat un-tickled, as I would go on solitary walks and write stories long into the night.

One particular night I went to a local music show with some friends. I sat on a wooden bar stool while nursing a beer, and I scrutinized the musicians up on stage with their sweaty foreheads and their acoustic guitars glittering under the lights. I felt empty and depressed. “That could be me up there.” I thought.

harvest freelance
A picture of me in my college days, back when I was ignoring my love of music. (Hey, at least I was writing!) 

What I didn’t immediately realize was how powerful this discomfort was and how good it was for me. I went home to my studio apartment and plugged in my keyboard. As I sat in front of the keys, I feared that I had lost the magic. No inspiration came. My musician days felt past tense.

But that was just the first spark in a rusty engine. Since then, I’ve taught myself guitar, enrolled in voice lessons that have greatly improved my voice, taken on two piano students, and learned The Circle of Fifths, a staple of music theory. I’m back, fellas!

I never would have imagined that two intelligent, funny, and talented women would want to start a band with me. We just released our first album with our folk-rock band Linden Hollow.  I’m pinching myself.

Jealousy Helped Me Find My Dream Career

I have a childhood friend who owns her own Photography company in Rhode Island, Laura Ink. She’s brilliantly successful. She glows. When we were kids, she was always toting around her camera, making me pose with wagon wheels and by wire fences. As an adult, she’s still toting around that camera, but now she’s forging genuine connections with clients whose lives she improves with her work. She brims with gratitude, and the love that shines through her work, I believe, is the reason for her success.

Here’s a picture of Laura being rad and living her best life. Source

Back when I was an office elf, I would scroll through Laura’s Instagram and think, “Man, this girl’s got it figured. She can choose her own projects! She makes money doing what she loves! It’s so fun for her, it’s not even work!”

I was so proud of her. And I was also suuuuuuper jealous. I realized who I wasn’t jealous of: my higher-ups that worked long hours and took projects that gave them night sweats. I admired these women for their intelligence and strength, but that life wasn’t for me. I salute them for following their arrow, but in the wise words of Amy Poehler, “Good for her, not for me.”

Laura’s success with Laura Ink made me envision a future for myself in which I, too, got paid for doing what I love. It took me years to get the guts, but here I am.

Jealousy is a tough-love friend. It points to our true north. It makes us painfully aware. Next time you feel that pang, listen to it. It might be a wise inner voice.


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