Wednesday, July 22, 2009

reflecting on envy

Sherry at Rhubarb Pie recently wrote about how it felt to learn that someone that you knew once and were in the same place as once is doing something 'important' or 'prestigious', leaving you to wonder, well, what about me?  Read her blog entry, I feel as though I'm not properly summarizing her thoughts and am projecting my own a bit.
The exact same thing happened to me last week.  I found out that an acquaintance I knew once, who was on the same place as me once, is doing Big Things or at least has a Big Title.  It sounds smart, and prestigious, and important.  And it made me think, why not me?  People around me have said, You could do the same thing!  But that is not true.  I'm not sure why.  And I envy his title of importance, and the respect it commands.  I want it.
There are a few things this makes me consider.  What is it that I feel as though stands between me and a Big Title?  Aside from the fact that I probably don't want it - why do I feel as though I couldn't have it?  I can't answer that question, but that's an important question, and I think I need a few good answers.  Do I feel as though my socio-economic class (prior and current) limits me?  Do I feel as though I'm not in fact as smart as I've led other people to believe I am?
I'm self-aware enough to know that it's important to me that other people think I'm smart.  I don't want to be smartER than everyone else.  I just want a room full of smart people to think that I'm smart and interesting, too.  I'm not athletic or artistic.  I think other people find me generally pretty funny but I'm not always very social.  My thing has always been grades, and getting good grades.  (maybe less so in law school, the great equalizer).  There are no grades now.  So who am I and what do I use to evaluate myself?  Who am I?  What am I?  Now I'm not smart or important and I regularly wonder in my day to day job, "I went to law school for THIS?"
Now, let's turn back to the fact that most jobs with Big Titles are not jobs that interest me.  On paper, the job I have now is the job I want.  But there are these wispy intangible things that makes this job not completely fulfilling to me.  I don't really want any other job, I just want this job to make me happier.  I'm not sure how to do that.  I also wonder if perhaps I'm putting too much importance on my job being 100% fulfilling, and that maybe I should be more focused on making my personal life more fulfilling and stop expecting my profession to dictate my life.  That goes back to wanting to be smart, I suppose. 
My envy has me thinking about these things.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can relate to a lot of this, especially being defined by intelligence (or at least the perception of it). I know that I am "smart" - but I also know that people often think that I am smarter than I really am, especially since coming to law school. Many people I encounter immediately believe me to be brilliant, just because I am going to be a lawyer. I try and tell them that I'm not, but I'm wondering if I feel the need to "correct" them because I truly believe I'm not smart (which is false, I know I'm smart) or because law school has made me feel stupid (comparatively). I am no longer the Top Dog. So how do I self-identify now?

This has been a big summer for me in this area, still processing. Semi-formed conclusion at the moment is that external markers of success like yearly salary, GPA, class rank and grades (A, B, C, etc) are not indicators of who I truly am, they are just ways to measure myself against other people. I don't want to live my life comparing myself to the people around me, trying to see where I come up short. So, I'm just going to try focusing on school as a time to learn for learning (and job performance's sake), not as a competition. I doubt it will be successful given the fact that law school = competition, but I'm going to try.

Sorry for the longwinded comment, but this is a great post and has me thinking!