Episode 4: Dealing With Envy
When you are in your 20s and 30s, one of the hardest things to do is to not develop envy when there are people around you who seem to be able to achieve whatever they want while you struggle. The world of Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn only makes dealing with this harder.
Why does this happen?
- We find it difficult to deal with the fact that there are aspects in life where other people are better than us or are just more gifted
- We believe the universe is kinder to others and unfair to us - I am working harder and yet I am not getting what I deserve
- We fail to recognise the things that we are uniquely good at. We do not fully appreciate the opportunities that life has uniquely provided to us and keep complaining about what is missing.
- We do not realise that the superficial displays of achievement and fame often hide the troubles, fears and insecurities of the people you are jealous of. No one has the perfect life.
One of my favourite real-life stories on envy is from my maternal hometown of Kolhapur. The local colony where my uncle lived was the home of an extremely gifted (but insanely hardworking) young girl chess player. As she started growing in stature and kept winning tournaments, she started facing rivals at district and state levels. A young kid was winning chess matches and crushing higher-ranked older players. At one of the tournaments, they realised they couldn't beat her. The envy of her rivals forced them to lace her seat with itching powder. For most of us, it would be very hard to concentrate for more than a minute with that kind of itching. However, she fought her way through. She would take multiple baths during a match and come back and defeat all her opponents. Eventually, she won the tournament.
What is the point of the above story? Envy is an absolutely useless emotion. You can try whatever you want but you will never be able to beat someone better than you by being jealous. One of the fastest ways to self-destruct is to be engulfed in a fire of jealousy. In order to pull someone down, you yourself keep sinking lower. And at the end, you are left with even lower self-esteem. You wished all the negativity in the world to your rival and he/she still ended up trumps.
You have to focus on yourself. There will always be people better than you at something. Federer stands no chance against Nadal on a clay court. Nadal will never look as elegant as Federer. Kohli cannot hit shots like AB Devilliers. ABD cannot be as consistent as Virat. There will always be someone who will be a champion at quant. Some people would have built a mastery in verbal reasoning because of extensive reading since childhood. There will always be people who would have worked harder than you and are getting rewarded. And there will be people who are gifted enough to crush you having put in only half the preparation time as you.
Also, remember that time is a strange thing. The average Indian lives over 70 years. Over a 7 decade life, there will be plenty of ups and downs. 'Apna time aayega' - always remember that. Similarly, apna time jaayega bhi. No one can forever be leading the perfect life. The person you are envious of today maybe in jail tomorrow (Remember Harshad Mehta and Vijay Mallya?). The person you are making fun of today will be tomorrow's superstar - read Nawazuddin Siddiqui's struggle in B-Town or read about Varun C from KKR in the IPL or about Tewatia in RR.
Personally, I have always found the best way to deal with envy by following the maxim - 'Turn envy into inspiration'
What can I do to get better? Can I learn something from others who are doing well and improve myself? If I am feeling the pain of not making it like others, the only way I can work on that pain is by elevating my own level of preparation. I genuinely feel happy for most people who do well. (I say most because I am no saint. Despite all that I know my emotions often take over. )There's no point grudging anyone their success. It does zilch to help me be successful or happy.
As strange as it may sound, there are always people who are envious of you too. Often it is the people who you are envious of. We just have a blind spot towards our own privilege, fortune and gifts.
There is competitive envy and romantic envy. I reckon the latter is much harder to deal with. I am not sure I have the ability to make very sound arguments on how to deal with romantic envy. Our curated story of the day may be able to help in understanding how envy affects the world. It is excellent preparation for a Reading Comprehension passage in the video form :-)
Curated Story of the Day
You haven't done enough VA/RC practice if you haven't come across a passage on Nietzsche. Here I give you a 6 min video of Nietzsche on Envy. It is a fascinating video by School of Life and talks about the fact that Christianity may be the outcome of envy and also the root cause of degradation of the European civilisation!
A big thank you to Shubhankar Gupta for his email. Also, for his suggestion to make the 30-day compilation available as an e-book. We will be doing the same for all our subscribers :-)
The mental conditioning required for one of the toughest exams in the world comes with practice, knowledge and presence of mind. But there is one central idea to all three of these; self-belief.
To that end, I will send one curated piece of reading or video every day. I will also answer one subscriber question answered every day. With CAT 2020 knocking at your door, I will talk about concepts and frameworks that you can apply immediately to gain that confidence and self-believe.
You will find a new growth story every day in your mailbox for the next 30 days. The first 5 stories will be free for everyone. You need to subscribe to get the 6th story and beyond i.e. 5th November onwards.
We will also have 4 Growth meets (for subscribers) where we will all meet online to discuss issues, ideas and do a Q&A.
What’s in it for you in the Growth Stories with Ankit Doshi:
- Mental Models for Analyzing CAT Prep
- Notes for Self-Reflection
- High-Quality Curated Content & their Summaries
- Motivation to turn Intent to Action