Subtitle

The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Friday, March 27, 2009

Envy of the Self

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.

4 comments:

Raven said...

Interesting way to look at envy. You peeked had a brief moment in me of envying someone who could envy himself...

I don't know if I've ever envied myself... maybe envied the me I wish I was.... I'm better at being in the moment now that I'm old. It's a skill I wish I had learned earlier, but such is life.

Evan Davis said...

I feel un-envied.

maryt/theteach said...

Well, Anthroslug that's an interesting and unusual take on envy! I really liked it! :)

Pagan Sphinx said...

Oh, I seeeeeeee! You're Kay's man! Sorry to be so slow to catch on!

Good catch, there, authorslug! :-)