Dinner was in just a few minutes and I was mentally preparing myself to feel… miserable.
“I’m so excited to introduce you to my favorite writer,” my friend gushed. “She’s a New York Times bestselling author and she’s so smart and funny and you’re just going to loooove her!”
Internally, I thought to myself, “New York Times bestselling author? I’m sure she’s amazing… and, I’m sure I’m going to feel puny and insignificant and jealous and then hate myself for feeling that way, and… and… ugh.”
I took a breath and trotted over to the table.
And there, I was surprised to discover…
Nope. Not jealous.
Ms. New York Times was smart, funny and absolutely lovable, as promised. We had a delightful conversation that spanned all kinds of topics. I learned about her life. She learned about mine. We hugged and promised to have sleepover parties and stuff.
As I walked away, I had a delayed reaction epiphany:
“Huh. I’m not jealous of her talent & success… because she’s not living my dream.”
I always assumed that becoming a New York Times bestseller was my dream.
Isn’t that what every author is supposed to want?
Isn’t that my ultimate goal? Apparently not.
This realization left me… stupefied.
If that’s not my dream…
Then what is?
I began to reflect on the last couple of times that I felt… intensely jealous.
: Meeting Master Phil, a seventh degree black belt martial artist. Why? I’m jealous of his discipline, mastery and devotion.
: Having a beachside picnic with my friend Nicole, who is training to run across America. Why? I’m jealous of her discipline, mastery and devotion.
There’s a head-slammingly obvious lesson here:
Jealousy can be a teacher if you lean in… close.
And if you’re willing to feel it, explore it and hunt for the patterns.
The root of the word “jealousy” is actually an Old French word, jalousie, meaning “enthusiasm, love, longing”.
(How beautiful is that?)
Pay attention to the people who make you feel that kind of “enthusiastic longing”.
They might not be the people that you’d expect. They might not work in your industry. They might not look or live like you.
It could be Oprah. It could be Obama. Or it could be that lady who sits on the bus stop outside your apartment every morning, cackling with unbridled happiness.
Feel the longing, sharp as it may be.
To show you who you are meant to be.
PS. Who is living your dream?
What is it about them that inspires such “longing” in you?