I Want What They Have
Papi, how do I overcome my envy?
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I am a 29-year-old ball of absolute bisexual envy. I look at my peers and people who were beside me a few years ago and almost explode with the feeling of "I could have done that!" But, well, I didn’t.
For context: Six years ago, I decided to get into theater and got some internships and then an entry-level job in dramaturgy in one of the most renowned theaters in Europe without any formal training. I think I did a good job, and I always got great feedback. But after a year, my depression came back in full force. I barely went to work and eventually had to quit entirely. That was in 2019, and I stayed in a deep depression until Covid started. I saw the intern who replaced me at my job become one of the leading dramaturgs of the theater, and I went deeper and deeper into depression.
Eventually, I came out of it. I looked for a boring office job, worked there until I couldn't take it anymore, and now work another office job. I recently started studying for a BA in humanities to keep my brain occupied, because honestly the office job is killing my creativity.
I don't want to go back to theater, but I periodically get the feeling that I could have had a solid career by now. I could have made a name in the scene, or at least I wouldn’t be working a mind-crushing office job for the rest of my dumb life if I had just toughed it out for a bit. I know I can't change it, and I also know that I was simply sick. But when I look at the people who came from my 'scene' and now have a solid career with podcasts and books and scholarships and all that, I get a feeling of deep, deep jealousy, and I can't be happy for them. I want to have what they have. Meanwhile, I'm stuck waiting for emails, listening to office gossip and studying with 19-year-olds.
How can I accept that I just got sick? How can I lose the feeling that I'm too good for “normal people” work, a feeling that is destroying every ounce of contentment I could ever feel in my little life? Am I just arrogant? Do I really have to look for another job where we talk about emails and when to send them every week in a meeting? Please help!
Hey there, TG!
From one drama queen to another, I think your theater background is showing a bit with the “sending emails for the rest of my dumb life” part. I get you, though. It does feel like that sometimes. I sent a “checking in” email this morning and thought “wow, this is the exact sort of thing Kafka wrote that bug story about.”
I’m also no stranger to envy. The bad news is that you’re never too successful or too secure to avoid it. There will always, always be someone out there with something you want. That’s a fact of life, and it won’t change. What can change, however, is our response to that feeling.