I’m quite jealous of people who don’t get jealous of people.
I sometimes fear that I’m Veruca Salt from the movie musical Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. I know I’m not exactly like her, but to even be in the same ballpark as her really sucks. She wanted everything. And she wanted it now. And she was ‘a bad egg.’ I don’t wanna be a bad egg. But try as I might I get bitter and jealous so much at the fact that I don’t have what I want. Like Veruca I seem to want everything. And I tend to get jealous of and sometimes even resent people for getting things I don’t have.
“Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies.” -Nelson Mandela
I hate that I resent people. I really wish I could change it. I don’t like that about me. I used to believe that everyone was like me and most everyone was just better at not showing it outwardly. Now, I’m not so sure. I now believe that there are people who genuinely don’t get jealous or bitter very often. I’m still not sure about this. I can’t really know what’s going on inside other people’s heads, but I can tell you it bothers me. I want to not be like this.
Robin Williams is in the news right now, because he committed suicide. I hate this for a number of reasons. Firstly I hate it because I don’t like knowing anyone is in so much pain (mentally, physically or both) that they end their life. Secondly, I hate it because the world lost a true treasure. But the third reason I hate it is because I feel it relates to my situation. Let me be clear. I’m not suicidal. I have not given any serious consideration to it. This post is not a cry for help before I do anything like that. But I do feel a real fear that I’ll never be truly satisfied with life.
Robin Williams has an academy award. He’s in several movies that are considered some of the greatest movies of all time both comedically and dramatically. He toured the country and the world doing comedy for sold out houses. Basically, he achieved in life what I think I want to achieve in life. And despite all that he still lacked something in his life that would allow him to be happy. I doubt I’ll ever achieve anything close to his level of fame or success. But what if I do achieve it and I’m still not happy with my life? What if I race to the prize, get the prize and then find that I’m still a bitter, jealous person who can’t be really happy?
I’d like to think that there’s a certain minimum in life that if achieved, I could happily live with. And then anything more would be gravy. But the evidence doesn’t support that. When I moved to Chicago at 23 my goal was to make a living as a comedian. I did that by 27. Then my goal was to work for Second City. I did that by 28 as a teacher in their training center. Then my goal became to work for Second City as a performer. I did that at 29 when I performed on my first gig for them on a cruise ship. Six contracts later I realized that what I really wanted was to perform in their touring company.
I never did that. But let’s say that hypothetically they did hire me to that. Chances are I would have wanted to perform on their stages after that. And if I had achieved that would that have been enough? Probably not. I probably would have set even higher goals to get on The Daily Show or a sitcom or something. Don’t get me wrong, I still would love to be on a sitcom or something like that. But my point is that it’s not just a goal I’d like to achieve. It’s a goal I feel I must achieve before I can be truly happy.
There are many examples of this in real life and literature. Jon Favreau’s character in Swingers isn’t happy with his life even though Vince Vaughn’s character points out that Jon’s life is way better than his. Orny Adams in the documentary Comedian is a professional touring stand up, but still seems to be upset by the fact that he’s not more successful.
As I write this I look at my dog. All she wants is food, for me to throw the ball, and to be constantly around me and her mother (my girlfriend) all the time. When she has those things, she seems to be completely satisfied with life. I’m jealous of my dog. She doesn’t beat herself up for not being famous. She just wants me to throw the ball.
I’m reminded of Dustin Hoffman’s character in Wag the Dog. He pulled off a major accomplishment to help the United States. But he couldn’t tell anyone. And that wasn’t okay. He needed the credit. And his need for that led to (spoiler alert) his death.
Well, I would love to be on TV. I would love to be a movie star or a touring stand up or both. And I’m going to keep pursuing that stuff. But what I don’t want is to be disappointed in myself for not doing that stuff. I’d rather just love my life and do things because I have a healthy desire to do them and not do things because I feel like I’m a failure if I don’t do them.
There was a time in my life I was offered a job to sell shoes in Kona. That’s on the big island of Hawaii. And I pondered it seriously. I turned it down, but I really thought about it. What would it be like to free myself from the career path I’m trying to create for myself? What would it be like to sell shoes 40 hours a week and spend the rest of the time surfing and reading on the beach and swimming with whales in January?
For some reason I always assumed I deserved the best. Dunno why. But I thought velvet ropes should part for me. That beautiful women should trip over themselves to get to me. That everyone was gonna love me and want me to be in their movies and wanna interview me. There’s no evidence to indicate why this is should be, but at the same time I believed it. And now I live a life that isn’t bad at all, but could never measure up to what my imagination expected for me. And every day that I don’t live a life worthy of Entourage, I feel like I’m failing the unreasonable expectations of my uninformed adolescent brain.
So, here’s my plea. Does anyone know how to change this? Has anyone gone through this journey and emerged victorious on the other side? I’ve tried many things. I’ve tried to remember that my life isn’t bad at all. I’ve tried to be thankful for everything I’ve ever had. I’ve tried to apply logic to the situation by realizing that the odds of any one person achieving what I demand of myself are infinitesimally small no matter the level of talent. None of those have really worked. They’ve helped, but not worked. So, I ask anyone who bothers to read this…how can I fundamentally change my outlook on life to be happy in the moment and pursue a healthy desire to be successful rather than treat success like the only door to self satisfaction and berate myself for not having it?