Ahhh, yes, Kay's weekly sin-fest has returned. This week, it’s envy. And I’ll apologize in advance, this essay is being written more out of a sense of participation than because I really have anything interesting to say, so it’s not one of my better ones.
While, like most people, I have directed envy at different targets throughout my life, I find that I am usually the target of my own envy. I know that this sounds rather narcissistic, so allow me to explain.
I have never been good at living in the present. When I am under stress, I tend to look back on the past with a good deal of nostalgia, often wanting to return. When I am calm and optimistic, I look towards the future with anticipation. Regardless, I always wish I was “back there” or “up ahead” and am never really satisfied with where I am now here and now.
For example – when I was in graduate school, I was busy working on my research and not particularly social. While I enjoy being alone, I spent so much time in that state, that it began to feel rather empty. At the time, I looked forward to finishing my degree and starting my career, having some free time, and developing more of a social life. I very much envied the future me, who I was certain would have a decent career, a better social life, a good romantic relationship, and actual free time.
Fast forward a few years, and here I am. My career is generally going as I expected (in some ways better), I am involved with Kay, I have regular social outlets, and I am never really lonely (in fact, I often wish that I had a bit more time alone, but the alone time that I do have doesn’t feel empty now). So, of course, I can’t be satisfied. I look back on my time in grad school and see that my social life was less complicated, that I actually had more time alone, that I had a specific goal that I was working towards, and that life was generally less complicated.
When I actually sit back and assess it fairly, I was neither more nor less happy then than I am now, and yet I was envious of my future self then, and envious of my past self now.
Well, the grass is always greener.