I’ve always been told I have a problem with envy. I’ve always known this. It’s my vice. It’s my greatest obstacle. It’s the source of my insecurity. For too long I have let envy control my entire outlook in life. Someone I graduated high school with is starting a family? I panic. Someone I used to be friends with has thousands of followers on Instagram? I get mad. My first crush is getting engaged? I feel hopeless. What kind of person gets upset at someone else’s positive milestones and accomplishments? Not one who will thrive in this world. And it took me a very long time to realize this. It’s odd, because I’ve been told my whole life not to compare myself to other people, but I never really listened until now. What changed to make me suddenly hear this advice? Honestly, heartache. Hard work and heartache. Working full time. Making memories with friends despite my agoraphobic exhaustion. Falling in love with someone and having to learn to let go. Learning and living and becoming a well-rounded member of society despite my mental shortcomings.
Now that I’ve shifted my thinking from envy to acceptance everything in life feels better. Has my life changed? No. Has my attitude changed? Absolutely. And I know it sounds cliché to say that you create your own reality but it really is true. My circumstances have not magically changed overnight, but over the course of a month, all complimented by the previous years of learning how to grow up and overcome multiple mental illnesses, I see my life as nothing but uniquely perfect to me.
There were always roadblocks that kept me from accepting myself and being at peace with myself. Then suddenly, after months of stress and heartache, one word seemed to be the magic that dissipated all my roadblocks… timeline. That was it. Timeline. My timeline is not the same as anyone else’s.
I’ve always looked back on my life and been in awe of how perfectly timed every single moment of my life has been to sculpt me into the human being I am today. Accepting my past was never a problem. Accepting my present was. Accepting the future was. I had so much anxiety when I thought about my where I “should be” by now in life. Why haven’t I been in a serious relationship yet? Why haven’t I moved out of my parents’ house yet? Why haven’t I become a famous author yet? And every one of these anxious thoughts can be extinguished with the sole belief that my timeline is not the same as anyone else’s timeline. My life unfolds as it is meant to for me and does not adhere to anyone else’s standards. This was the antidote to the envy I have let control me throughout the entirety of my life. My timeline is mine. I know I am not meant to be in a serious relationship right now, so who cares when it happens? Who cares if people I graduated high school with are getting married? Seriously, who cares? How does that have any effect on me? It doesn’t… unless I let it. And that’s where the choice comes in. The conscious choice to say “I will not let someone else’s path in life govern how I perceive mine.” There is literally no point in being jealous of someone else. And I could say I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this out, but the truth is I wasn’t meant to up until now. My life and my successes or idiosyncratic and unique to me. I cannot be compared to anyone else. My life cannot be measured by someone else’s timeline. To do so is to be a slave of envy. And I have no room in my heart for that.
I can confidently say that ever since I came to this “timeline” epiphany I have been able to eliminate all of my anxiety about my place in this world without a second thought. This has been the key. I am infinitely happier with myself than ever before. Worrying about where I am or where I will be truly feels like a waste of time. I have trust. I have faith. I have acceptance. All because I was able to rid envy from my life.
– Valerie Parente (8-13-2019)