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.


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! :-)