Why I Cut ‘Jealous’ Out Of My Travel Vocabulary

Last week I bought a plane ticket to Europe. In January I’m going to be taking a trip through 5 countries and honestly I’m so excited to be going to my second “home,” again.

With every trip/travel experience I’ve taken, I come across people who say that they’re “jealous.” And while I know it’s not generally meant negatively, I wanted to have a quick housekeeping talk about it.jealousy-quoteObviously I’m not immune to the green monster that is jealousy, but I’ve noticed this conversation happening a lot, lately. I had to stop and think: Do we know what we’re saying?

Note for the love of linguistics: When we say, “I’m jealous!” what we’re actually saying is that we’re afraid of losing something.

“Jealousy is an anticipatory emotion. It seeks to prevent loss,” said Ralph Hupka, Professor of Psychology, Emeritus at California State University at Long Beach.

Despite the common misuse of the word (what’s new? #English) what we generally mean is that we’re envious of what the other person has. For this piece we’ll move forwards with the common knowledge that we, as a society, use the words synonymously, and that ‘jealous’ is interchangeable with the meaning of envy.

And now, back to your regular program/rant…

Why am I even talking about this? Well, in the travel community I think it can be easy to look over at someone else’s accomplishments (I’m lookin’ at you Mr. 153 countries in 2 years) and feel a certain tinge of green.

When you see that someone bought a plane ticket to a place you’ve always wanted to go, your initial reaction, as you’re sitting in your cubicle typing, probably isn’t going to be to high-five them. But guess what? You should. Why? Because that’s how we build community. You have to CELEBRATE.

As a woman, I think a lot of us grew up being pitted against each other. For some reason we’re supposed to be in competition with every other woman on the planet, and we’re supposed to sit in a corner moping, if we don’t sing like Taylor Swift, and have moves like Beyoncé.

When have we EVER been encouraged to throw a party when one of us kicks ass and conquers?!

Three years ago, after a rather tragic and heart breaking experience (#storyforanothertime) I decided to stop using the word “jealous” in my conversations with people (and to be honest, even in my mental conversations).

Why was it that when those people accomplished their dreams, I felt like I needed to protect myself from losing my own. Sound ridiculous? Sound familiar?

Hint: That’s not how it works.

I started my little vocab experiment when I realized how terrible I felt after I said I was jealous of someone. Even if it was meant to be light-hearted, it didn’t feel right. And generally speaking (unless the person was a smug-ass) I noticed that nobody was reacting positively to me expressing my jealousy.

At first it was really hard, I’m not going to lie. And to be more honest, it still is. Sometimes the words bubble up to my lips before I even get a chance to think about them and I have to push them back down. It’s a bit like trying to get a rolled sleeping bag back in its bag.

The Results: What I noticed when I stopped using “jealous” to describe my feelings is that my mindset changed. I started to replace stagnant thoughts with questions like, “How can I do that?”
proverbs-1430
A few years ago I wanted to do a lot of things that I didn’t have the courage to do. Mainly because I spent hours on Pintrest/travel websites drooling over what other people were posting.

That’s no way to live.

When you start to ask yourself “how” you can make things happen, you start to open doors, and you start pushing yourself forward. Believe me, the universe knows when you’ve opened yourself up to new experiences. You might even land in another country, attempting to speak somewhat fluent French.

I’m just saying. It’s happened before.

The part that breaks my heart is that society is (generally) not on our side. Spend 5 minutes looking at ads on your TV and you’ll quickly see that we, as Americans, are constantly in competition with each other. MAKE the grass on your side greener so the Jones’ (and everyone else!) has to drool in envy. Go on a Caribbean cruise so your coworkers are envious (not to spend time with your family, don’t be ridiculous). The list goes on and on.

Fight it.

Get off your couch and go DO something. Buy a plane ticket, or start saving to buy one. And stop saying you can’t. Before I really even knew how to budget (or anything about travel), I would put away the tiniest amount of money every month, daring not to hope. When I finally had the guts to buy a plane ticket I had the backup that I needed. Literally EVERY SINGLE person told me not to, but I did anyway. Why? Because that was MY dream.

And now it’s time for yours to start.

Jealousy is a stagnant emotion. It doesn’t move you forward. It’s like one of those stupid gumdrop traps in Candyland that makes you lose a turn.

Stop jealously looking at what others are doing, and start making things happen in your own life. You’re so much more powerful than you know.

b46d8-11199408_338907849566310_1668704673_n

The Truth About Mindy and Me

Glasgow, Scotland
Glasgow, Scotland

Yesterday I started watching a TV show called The Mindy Project. It’s been on TV for a couple of seasons, so I thought I would give it a test run. I absolutely LOVE it.

In one of the first episodes Mindy, the slightly dysfunctional and all too relatable leading lady set on self-reform, says:

“It’s so weird being my own role model.”

And I stopped in my tracks. In fact, I opened Photoshop right then and there and designed and printed off the quote so I could put it on my wall. The more I thought about the quote, the more I started to analyze why it resonated with me so much. What was so powerful about this kind of declaration?

Well, first off, a leading lady who is self-empowered, successful (both academically and in her career), and is a woman of color, said it. Second, I think it was the first time I had my personal outlook clearly articulated in one sentence.

You’ve probably all heard the saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

I happen to agree with this wholeheartedly.

Personally, I’ve always had a huge struggle with comparison. I’m hugely competitive, and I like to win. Always. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but what I’ve had to work on (specifically during the past couple of years) is reminding myself that to be constantly comparing myself actually distracts me, and never empowers me.

Gathering inspiration from someone is one thing. But staring at their lives and thinking, “What the hell? How come she gets to do that and I don’t!?” or “Why is their life so perfect when I can’t seem to get anything together!?” is destructive.

As a Christian, I don’t believe anyone was created without a God given purpose. We are made to succeed and empower each other. Maybe that success means making people smile every day as a street performer. Maybe that means working to represent ethical commerce on Wall Street. Who knows? But I don’t think anyone is without a calling.

I’ve said it before, but the past couple of years were rough. It wasn’t until a breaking point last September when I finally decided to start living my life with myself as the primary author. And one of the best reinforcements of my decision was my backpacking trip.

Having weeks of alone time can give you clarity that is hard to beat. I think it was then that I really began recognizing that, if I was going to be living on this earth for the next 70 years, I was going to have to start making my own decisions.

No more looking around at what other people were doing. No more seeing pictures on Facebook and thinking, “Really!? What have I accomplished that can even half compare to THAT?” No more unhealthy comparison.

With the teen girls I nanny, I really try to talk smart about body image and loving yourself in all capacities. I remember being that age, and how hard it was to find someone to tell me it was okay to be smart AND beautiful AND confident. It always seemed like you had to choose between the three.

This week, we were talking about body image and how nobody’s perfect, specifically in regards to Instagram. It’s hard, because in social media people only post the good pictures of themselves. Leaving my teen girls comparing themselves to a standard of everyone’s “perfections” and nobody’s real selves.

We’ve had some really awesome talks about how important it is to focus on succeeding to our own standards (eating healthy, staying active and taking pride in our bodies) rather than looking at posts and trying to fit into other people’s molds.

It’s definitely a challenge. But instead of looking at other people’s lives, let’s take a second and look at our own. What do I have to celebrate? What have I achieved? I don’t care if it’s as “insignificant” as making it through middle school. That is an achievement!

The only person I should be comparing myself to is myself. I am my own biggest competition. My own role model. Let’s gather inspiration from others, instead of projecting negativity rooted in insecurities. Because tearing other people down (even just mentally) is only going to leave us bitter and angry – I speak from experience.

There is so much freedom in being able to embrace our own success. To look back on our own lives and saying, “Wow, look how far I’ve come! Remember when I used to be afraid to ask out random strangers? Now I ask people out all the time!

Ok, that’s a weird example. But, you get the point! Let’s start celebrating our selves and start looking at how we can be our own role models. Our dreams have power! Let’s not let someone else’s tabloid keep us from writing our own New York Times Best Seller.

Let your eyes look right on [with fixed purpose], and let your gaze be straight before you. Proverbs 4: 25

d94d6489ce6cdd38a1818c1128ef732b