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Envy is such a toxic emotion. Not only for all the expected reasons, but also because it’s so hard to talk about. It’s so hard to admit to having it. I’ve started and deleted this blog post several times over the last couple days. I kept thinking that by “writing through” my feelings I would reach a place of discovery, of calm, of progress.

But no. Instead, I just kept coming of as petty and complain-y and malcontent.

Because envy is petty. Because envy thrives in those deep, dark corners that foster insecurity and self-pity and the reprehensible desire to covet that which you do not already have but which others do. Perhaps even to covet because you think you deserve it more, because you would appreciate it better. And nobody wants to own up to that, to having those deep, dark corners with those deep, dark desires, because, well, ewww. Grow up. First world problems. Etc.

So instead everyone runs around with sanctimonious smiles, telling you to be grateful for what you have and to focus on yourself and maybe even, in particularly appalling moments, to make lists of the things you have so that you can be properly thankful for them.

Maybe I’ll do that next week–in honor of Thanksgiving and all–but for now, no. Instead I’m going to admit my envy.

One of my friends has recently published a book, and it’s all the buzz, and she’s touring the States, speaking in bookstores and at independent venues and everyone is super excited, and, well, other than my Los Angeles launch event, I never managed to set up an event anywhere else, even though I had Christine Vachon on board to participate. Everywhere in San Francisco said no thanks. Most places in New York simply ignored me. And such my book, my book that consumed five years of my life (as opposed to hers, which took less than a year to write) has fizzled away, relegated to an eternity in the Amazon archives. Sure, I am thrilled for her, but part of me is sad that I could not get even a small fraction of that enthusiasm for myself.

So I’m envious.

Another friend of mine is pregnant and couldn’t seem more blasé about the whole thing. Even though she isn’t very far along, she’s so unenthused about what is happening in her body that she won’t even send me a full body photo. She feels fat and bloated and doesn’t want photo-documentation of her current state. Unlike other friends of mine, who love to post beaming photos replete with pregnancy glow, she’s over it. Pregnancy was once something I wanted, was once something I was sure would happen to me, and now that it’s been relegated to the dusty back-burner for me, it is especially frustrating to watch her ambivalence about what I cannot have. i cannot help but think how differently I would be acting if I were in her shoes.

So I’m envious.

A third friend is recently engaged, and her Facebook posts are full of beaming smiles and effervescent love and holiday decorations and weekend getaways. I’m very happy for her, of course. I’m not a monster. But a teeny tiny part of me gets just a teeny tiny bit sad when I look at her photos because I want what she has.

So I’m envious.

In one of my classes this term, the teacher seems consistently to like everyone else’s work better than mine. Now, it’s very possible that everyone else is producing better work than me — I do not mean to imply that she’s partial to them without good reason (although she does seem especially fond of their projects over mine) — but after week after week of public critiques where my work is consistently sub-par, I get jealous of the apparent ease with which the others are sailing through. I know they are working hard, I know it’s not as easy for them as it looks, but just once, I covet a gold star and a pat on the head, too. Just once I would like to walk out of class without feeling like a useless and incompetent human being.

So I’m envious.

And yes, I know what to do with my envy. I know I should write lists and be grateful for what I have (because that is so very much). And maybe that will come next week. But for now, I’m going to admit, shamelessly, that there is much I envy. There is much I covet. I’m going to expose the pale and icky emotion that my envy is, lurking in the dark corners which seem to be everywhere at times, and I’m going to own it. I want things others have. And maybe, just maybe, I will figure out some way to make that a positive thing.

What do you envy?

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