When we hear about the success of others, especially friends and family, we say we feel happy and fortunate for them.
Whether it's prestigious scholarships and awards or finally getting jobs, the first thing that most people do is send congratulations and good wishes.
At the same time, however, we can't help but feel at least a little envious and down. Each of us craves success in our own endeavors.
When we begin to envy others' success, however, we compare ourselves to them. We look at their personality and their traits, trying to see how they've managed to be so successful.
Though envy is problematic, the real problem isn't the envy – it's our reaction to our envy. When we see others thriving and fulfilling their lives, we look at our own lives and ask: "What have I done so far?"
You may end up over-criticizing yourself. You realize your own achievements may not be up to par to those of others with much more distinguished accomplishments. In a way, this makes sense. We need to care about how well others are doing, because this influences our own success, either directly or indirectly.
Equivalent to how a professor may curve his grades in a class, the amount of curving that occurs depends on how well others do. The more well-off the overall class grades are, the lower amount of "curved" points that are added to your grade. Consequently, the lower the overall grades are, the more points that are added to your grade.
Expanding from this analogy, the same applies to almost everything that requires competition. If many others have extremely competitive resumes, the less chance that we'll have enough 'leeway' points to make it anywhere.
That being said, when we find ourselves envious of others in any manner, we must realize what we should and shouldn't do. We will be envious of others, and we will compare ourselves to others, but that does not mean that we should act on our impulse to exert revenge on those who are more successful than us. For some, when they see others doing well, they have a tendency to act on their jealousy and bully them.
In their minds, it seems unfair that they weren't bestowed with such luck and opportunity. They would rather drag others down and make them suffer in the same pit of self-torment and hate they are in. I'm sure many of us have felt the urge to do the same, especially to those that we deem as enemies or undeserving of anything good.
Instead of letting ourselves become consumed with jealousy and hate, we should channel such raw and strong energy into making ourselves better. If we put the time and energy that we spend wishing for successes into working for it, we would have such fulfilling lives. In actuality, we shouldn't even be like that – we're wasting precious resources that could be put into building roads to our goals in life. I've spent a good portion of my life grudgingly hoping I have what others have.
However, I've gathered enough experience from mistakes, first-hand and from others, that I should be concentrating on the important things at hand.
Although we should pay attention to how others are doing, we must also focus on our own lives. A delicate balance exists between the two. We can spend all day wishing we had an "A" like that mind-bogglingly smart kid in our chemistry class, but that won't improve the "C-" you have in the same class.
On the other hand, if we ignore the grades others have, it'll be difficult to gauge our own ranking in a class.
The next time you find yourself wasting hours of your life being jealous of what others have, remember this: You don't have enough time to give to them. You only have enough for yourself. Use it wisely.
Jan Urbano is a senior in biological sciences. He can be reach at email@example.com.