A few years ago, I reconnected with an old friend on Facebook. We talked on the phone, attempting to cram nearly 20 years of history into a one-hour conversation.
My friend, a beautiful, athletic blonde, had an amazing sense of humor. We would hang out in her living room eating mint chocolate chip ice cream (Breyers – never anything but Breyers!), talking about boys and watching Gen-X movies, usually featuring Winona Ryder.
My friend kept a tan year round. She had an enviable thin but muscular figure. She was quick-witted and hilarious. She always knew what to say to the boys to capture their attention. Her family was well off, and she always had beautiful things. She had long blonde locks. Oh that hair!
When I would spend the night at her house, I would sit on the edge of her tub, making conversation as she went through the routine of washing, blow-drying and then hot-rolling her hair until it shone and hung down her back in perfect, Breck girl loose waves. It was hypnotic to watch.
In a word, she was everything I wasn’t.
That afternoon on the phone, my friend said something that astonished me.
“You know, when we were teenagers I always envied you. You were the dark and mysterious quiet one, with your pale skin, red lips and dark, dark hair. You had that European look.”
(Oh to see ourselves as others see us! Especially as teenagers when most of us girls think we’re as graceful as an elbow zit.)
I count my blessings. I keep a gratitude journal. It’s rare that I’ve given in to feelings of envy towards others, and I certainly never let it get in the way of my friendships. And for that I am proud. But there have been isolated times in my life when I did feel jealousy.
Recently, it’s been a women with a pretty Instagram life. I found her online when, like me, her water broke due to pPROM and she gave birth to a 27 weeker preemie. Her journey began just weeks before mine, so I followed her blog with rapt attention. Her family’s story gave me hope.
Embarassingly, I also felt envious of her life. Her beautiful home and wardrobe, her speaking career, her postpartum weight loss, her glamorous vacations. How easy it was for her to pump while her baby was in the NICU. Mostly, I envied her her bouncing, chubby cheeked baby when my preemie has struggled to put on weight.
This week, she discovered that her baby has cancer.
To envy is folly.
(Update: I followed my friend’s journey through her daughter’s cancer treatment. Her baby is now thriving and is a true survivor! I couldn’t leave you hanging on this older post…)