I was exhausted. After a long night of studying, I sat down to take my Government test. The sound of pencils tapping on desks created a nervous energy. Occasional sighs echoed through the room, and the tick-tick-tick of the clock served as a reminder that time was running out. As the bell rang, I turned my test into the cold wire basket. I felt relief that it was over. It was a tough test, but I felt pretty darn good about it.
A couple days later the teacher returned the tests.
“How did you do?” asked Chris. He was a good friend out of class, but in class he was my academic nemesis. I was always trying to get a better grade than him.
“An 88,” I said reluctantly. I wasn’t thrilled that a B was sprawled over the top of my paper, but I was confident I did better than Chris. “How about you?”
“I got an 89!”
I dropped my head. Jealousy burned within me. It never mattered how hard I studied. Never. I was always one point behind him. This pattern continued through the entirety of my high school career. My best wasn’t good enough. And when I didn’t measure up, jealousy took over my mind. It consumed me. More than that….it was suffocating.
The stone of jealousy weighed me down in high school academically. It kept me from truly celebrating my successes. And I found the sharp edges of this stone scraping away at other areas of my life. Socially, I never felt as funny as ________, or fashionable as _______, or pretty as ________, or talented as __________. (Dear reader, I’m sure you can fill in the blanks…I’m sure all girls could fill in their own blanks of feeling inadequate or feeling JEALOUS of someone else). Looking back on my high school self, I realize how much time I spent focusing on others and feeling jealous of them. I was always jealous. I tried to maintain an exterior that exuded confidence, but inside I felt small, unimportant, insignificant.I might not have said it to my friends or let anyone know, but I was always jealous.
The stone of jealousy was destructive in my life. Sadly, it was a stone I gave myself. I stopped being thankful for the good things in my life. I forgot my positive attributes. I failed to recognize that my best was good enough. I shut out the voices of the people I loved who were telling me daily that I was enough.
Even at 27 years old, I feel this old stone. The other day a girlfriend of mine told me she and her husband are in the process of building their own home. And I am talking a DREAM HOME—granite counter tops, custom cabinetry, a two-way fireplace. And I am nowhere near in a position to have those things. Instead of being completely happy for her, I just felt jealous. I stopped being content with the things I have and focused on what I didn’t.
As I think back on the occasions in which I feel the most jealous, I see that this stone affects me in two ways:
- I become jealous of others’ characteristics (kinder, smarter, funnier, more athletic, more faithful. etc.)
- I become jealous of what others have—material things.
When I start to feel jealous of others’ characteristics, I have to refocus outside of myself. I have learned to celebrate others’ strengths. Instead of thinking Oh, she is a WAY better writer than me, I would say Your writing is really meaningful. There is always going to be someone who seems to have it all together in the areas in which I feel I am lacking, so I celebrate that strength. I acknowledge and compliment someone of whom I become jealous. It takes the focus of me and requires me to show kindness and encouragement. Trust me, it feels better to think of others.
When I become jealous of what others have, I have to remind myself that things truly do not matter. They just don’t. It is hard to feel that way when our culture tries to sell us everything and anything. We are inundated with ads to buy more and have more. So instead of being wrapped up in that, instead of being jealous of my friend’s new house, I make a list of things for which I am thankful:
My best friends.
Campfires and deep conversation.
Notice this list is not made up of things.
My list is made up of things that make me come alive.
By celebrating others’ strengths and making lists of things that are most important to me, I refocus on what does matter in life: kindness matters, love matters, joy matters. I cannot live in a place of jealousy. I must choose to live in a place of contentment, a place of satisfaction, a place of confidence.
If I could go back to that moment when I was jealous of Chris’s grade, I would have congratulated him on doing well. I would have been content with the grade I received because I knew I put forth my best effort. I would have walked away, my head held high, with full knowledge that my value does not lie in a grade on a test. My value lies in myself and in how I treat others.
The next time I feel that stone of jealousy, I must realize that I HAVE ENOUGH. I AM ENOUGH.
My name is Jacky Chadwick, and I grew up in Charlevoix, MI. My husband Kevin and I have a silly, loving, energetic, one-year-old daughter with whom we are completely in love. Currently we live in sunny Naples, FL. I am a teacher at heart and taught high school English for the last three years.
As a teacher, I saw so many students struggle with their identity and feelings of worthlessness, and as a woman who has struggled with similar feelings, I am passionate about the STONES’ message: You are enough, and you are not alone. And that is what I hope you feel from this blog…a little less alone and a little more alive.