As I’ve written previously, I struggled with feelings of jealousy when my best friend got engaged and married, describing the self-pity I felt because I wasn’t yet in that stage of life.
I don’t think I’m alone in this struggle. It’s easy for everyone to look at the outside circumstances of other people’s lives and construct a fairy tale picture in our heads of how much better they have it and how perfectly their story is unfolding.
But I realized that self-pity is a choice.
Instead of isolating myself in my self-pity, I chose to love. Rather than watching from afar and wishing I was the one tying the knot, I chose to enter into the joys and struggles of my friend’s engagement and marriage. By becoming a part of my best friend’s story, our friendship deepened.
I discovered that the closer I became to her, the more my desire to see her happy overshadowed my feelings of self-pity. The unspoken bitterness I had developed because of my jealousy stopped growing. I still longed for a relationship of my own. But I was able to accept that it will happen when the time is right.
I grew and learned how to be content with where I was in my own journey. And it was a lesson that has extended far beyond my desire to be in a relationship.
Now I am in a relationship. And I’m sometimes inclined to look at my boyfriend’s parents, who have been happily married for more than 30 years, and envy the happy home life he had that I did not.
But instead of being jealous of my boyfriend for his intact family, I’m choosing to get to know his parents better. We spend time with them on a regular basis, and I have heart-to-heart conversations with his mom. I’m choosing to be happy for them and the fact that their marriage has been so successful and life-giving over the years.
I’m learning to take the same approach with my friend who has a higher paying job than I do. Instead of wishing I was in the same financial situation, I listen and support him as he tells me how he is learning to manage his money better so that he can give to others and support a family some day. And I find myself genuinely happy for him that he is taking those steps.
Each of us has our own path in life—our own set of circumstances, successes, and struggles laid out before us. Even when someone else’s story seems so much more perfect than our own, remember that they have problems just like everyone else.
Refuse to fall into the trap of self-pity. Choose to love those you’re jealous of. You’ll be amazed how that one simple decision just may change your perspective on your life.
I’m still tempted from time to time to let jealousy take over and to feel sorry for myself. But I’ve learned that comparing myself to others will only serve to steal my joy. Giving up self-pity has made even more room in my heart to love those I care about most.