NAS: Envy and Singlehood

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This week’s topic of envy comes at just the right time for me. Sunday night, at a time when I should have been readying for bed and the early wake-up to drive into work, I instead wandered onto my Facebook feed. An acquaintance of mine posted about how [Conspicuously Male Name] made her dinner, did the washing up, watched Gilmore Girls with her, and even prepared her snacks for the week. My thoughts were 1) When did she get a boyfriend? 2) Who is this guy? 3) Do I really want to know that she met him through one of the groups—the groups I left (for good reasons) and maybe should join up again because it appears to be the boyfriendàfianceàhusband store?

Upon clicking through her friend list (I am that person—admit it, you can be one of them too sometimes), I didn’t find him, but I found a friend of hers who I learned was recently married…and she and her new husband were in one of the most romantic wedding pictures I’d ever seen. Upon seeing that and this feeling creeping up.  I blasted Fort Atlantic videos on Youtube until it was time for bed.

Don’t get me wrong—I am THRILLED for Catholic marriages and THRILLED that some lovely women are meeting amazing men. But why not me too?

I think envy is one of the hardest sins to overcome. It is so naturally…human to want things for yourself and be disappointed when you don’t get them—especially when you’re dependent on another person (the potential boyfriend) to provide them. And let’s be honest with each other, it’s also human to think it is HARD and FRUSTRATING and SAD to just watch as others are blessed when we feel we are not. So our thoughts turn inwards and go to scary places…maybe to the point that we feel unworthy or that there’s something wrong with us or that we’ve made the wrong choices (even though they were right at the time). Contributing to this angst are some well-meaning advice givers who counsel us to focus on ourselves, because somehow that’s the humble or charitable thing to do…I have no idea why. Lovely, faithful women who are great friends and are upset that they are single do not need to add anxiety that they need to fix themselves to be dateable. Uh uh.

Because the absolute worst part about envy is when people presume these feelings don’t come from a place of genuine hurt but somehow malice, so they refuse to sit with you in your pain, or even acknowledge it. But I like to be different. I’ll do it. You’re right, honey. It isn’t fair. There is nothing wrong with you, and there must have been something wrong with the guys at the groups who never saw what you see in yourself most of the time. You are worthy of a sweet, tender guy who dotes on you. You’ve made the right choices, and it’s the men in your life who’ve disappointed you who have made the wrong ones. And you know what, you’re not horrible for being envious. It just means you’re human, a daughter of Eve. If you are envious of good things like marriage and babies, then all that that means is your heart is in the right place, but your head is not, and just needs to catch up.

To try to overcome the ugly parts of envy (snarky comments or despair), I try to draw upon my resources or find comforting, affirming music. I try try try to pray for the grace to accept that everything is in God’s time. If on the rare occasion my envy was made public (very, very rare), I make social amends. But during those times it’s private, I find a way to rejoice in those couples’ happiness.

Here’s some other tips I’ve found helpful—at least for me:

– Refusing to add an un-wedding.me or un-baby.me (thought I don’t think the former exists) thing to my Facebook. Yes, it’s hard to see four engagement announcements posted in just one month, or annoying to click through three wedding albums from the same weekend (this past Fourth of July). But, like a vaccine, exposure to the dormant form of the “disease” may inoculate you to it..or at least make it less severe.

– Refusing to go onto Facebook all together. Yes, I also support this, especially if there are really painful circumstances that would make you just absolutely lose it if you saw someone’s relational happiness all over your feed.

–  Treat yo’self to the things you want and can have. Especially those things you goofily fear will make people judge you. Savoring a fine whiskey. Yelling at the ref at a football game (Apparently I know too many traditional men who I fear are horrified by this “unladylike” spirit.). A pretty new dress. Pajama night with pedicures with the roomie. That way, when you get an attack of the envies, you can draw upon these sweet memories.

– Remind yourself that just a week, day, hour, hell—minute ago—you were quite content with your life and had no real complaints (this was me Sunday).

– Try to own the idea that right now you are being who God calls you to be, and those women—from close friends and family to strangers on public transit—are simply doing the same thing. If you look at like you’re both on the same plane, just making different connections in Atlanta, then it will start to feel silly to be envious of the other passenger. You’re both going somewhere; it’s just that your destination is a surprise. And if there’s a longer layover for you, well, at least there are snacks.

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20 thoughts on “NAS: Envy and Singlehood

  1. This is absolutely golden. So great. Thank you!

    Love the part about envy…your heart is in the right place, your head just needs to catch up…coming from hurt instead of malice.

    Actually, I just love everything you said here. 😉

  2. I like the analogy of being on the same plane but making different connections, my destination is a surprise also I have no idea where their next destination is either.

  3. Britt: This is an amazing post! Would you be open to me reblogging it next week on my blog? Or, better yet, would you be interested in being my guest poster and featuring his deeply moving post? I understand either way.

    This part made me quite teary: “…And you know what, you’re not horrible for being envious. It just means you’re human, a daughter of Eve. If you are envious of good things like marriage and babies, then all that that means is your heart is in the right place, but your head is not, and just needs to catch up…”

    Thank you and God bless, Cindy

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this and reminding me that I am not the only one who ever feels this way. Sometimes we are descendants of Eve and just jealous of our friends who have the life we want but can’t seem to find.

    • Aww, it’s my pleasure, Natalie! And I always try to remind myself not to be jealous of the person, but the situation. I just hope my girlfriends understand that’s the case! I love them and what they have, but I am having issues with myself not having it! A new twist on the “It’s not you, it’s me!”

  5. “And if there’s a longer layover for you, well, at least there are snacks.”
    LOL!
    I’m going to follow your advice and treat myself to a little snack and a nice dvd this evening. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Envy and Singlehood ~ A Guest Post by Britt | The Veil of Chastity

  7. Pingback: NAS: Challenge Accepted! | Proverbial Girlfriend

  8. Well said. My girlfriend, a devout Catholic, found your blog and shared it with me. She and I often share our dating and romance laments, as well as our respective faiths. (I’m Mormon.)
    Today I chastised myself for my ill-will and thoughts towards all of the friends posting picture after picture of kids on their first day of school. The kids were all cute enough. I was just sad I didn’t have a child to post a picture of too. I debated taking a snarky picture of myself with a sign that said, “First Day of Work,” and posting it, just to be funny. But like I said, I chastised myself, and chose to remind myself to be charitable and happy for the children and moms instead.

    • Hi, Erin Ann! Thanks for reading! Ok, so here is where I demonstrate I am not a moral theologian by any means. I thought taking a picture of your happy self headed to a new job (or celebrating a current one you enjoy) as really really funny, and not at all uncharitable. If I saw a friend do that (and some have!), I wouldn’t think she was knocking moms or not happy for the families. Rather, I’d see her as joining in on the social customs because she is a part of the community. When we’re single or feel like there’s no hope, I believe it’s important to celebrate our milestones and relish in our joys, even if they are different from our friends. The generous-hearted, loving friends will understand that that’s what we’re doing, and they’ll join in and be happy for you, too.

  9. I am engaged and get jealous of other peoples relationships and lives too. I agree Facebook really stimulates a lot of those feelings so I try and stay away from it. I have a wonderful life and it’s amazing how just a few photos can really affect me

    • Hi, Mae! Yes…jealousy doesn’t really stop if we’re not careful. Even though we get what we want, our fallen nature makes us crave more or better. From time to time I get envious of the dates my newly married friend gets taken on by her husband. It does help me to thank God for all the blessings my fiance does give me and to remember we’re doing the best we can, and for a good reason (namely, no fancy dates so we can save money). I encourage you in your progress and congratulations on your engagement!

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