Column: The envy enemy

Talking about the emotion no one wants to talk about.

Kate McCarthy

I have a huge problem with envy. I always figured that envy could be a tool, something to mobilize me to achieve more. But, no surprise, leaving this quality unchecked brings dissatisfaction and bitterness. I’m still trying to figure this out at 20 years old, and it’ll probably take another 20 to get there.

Envy is, as Psychology Today puts it, an “ugly” emotion that no one wants to openly talk about. Envy means all sorts of icky things: comparison, secrecy, severe competition. But if you’re envious, what you are really feeling is that you are inferior to others. I can recall my mother telling me from the earliest age to “zip your tent”, put your head down and focus on your- self. But especially in college, it becomes all too easy to look around and compare yourself to the thousands of other young people striving for the same things you are. It’s hard to hold on to yourself, your perspective, and the specific value that you contribute.

Recently a friend of mine in the same field as me, received a massive opportunity. Rather than let the envy creep in, I thought about how much she had earned in this moment. I thought about what it means to see your friends succeed and star t to become professionals, and how cool that is. More than anything else, it’s fun to be happy for someone. And as it turns out, thinking about my friend’s success was the best I felt all day. Envy be gone.