In response to The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt: Envy.
My roommate once told me in a seriously-joking way, “There is a difference between envious and jealous. Envious is when you want to have something that someone else has. Jealous is when you are afraid that someone is going to take something from you.”
Now looking back at what she said, it actually makes a lot of sense. And all the situations in everyday life where we said, “U jelly?“, we should have really said “U envious?“, except that we don’t do it because it sounds far more stiff.
And now, taking the thinking one tiny step further (down the alley of random nerdy thoughts), why is it that the emotion “ENVY” is mentioned so often in our lives?
My answer is that I think we have reached a point in our society where the word ENVY does not carry any negative connotation, which is a good thing. There’s probably nothing that sounds more haughty and corny, but I think ENVY is what makes human human.
I mean, it came from old French “envie“, and when you say j’ai envie de manger du chocolat, it’s not like you mean you would be willing to rob Charlie’s Chocolate Factory or sell some crazy organs, just to get some Kisses or Lindt or even Godiva to savour. It simply means you would like some chocolate.
Nevertheless, etymology does not explain it all. In the English language, ENVY does sound quite negative, and by saying that it is no longer negative today, I do not mean that evolution has somehow made us no longer envy our popular friend, or even just a member of our lunch “squad” who always has great food from home.
I envy everyday. I envy the grads at school who are loud and confident and beautiful; I envy the baking master in my class; I envy the people who seem to just have their pockets full of ingenious Instagram captions and jokes. I envy Nabokov for his vocab. I envy any people who has finished Moby Dick or Infinite Jest.
And people envy people everyday. Probably half of our Netflix content would be non-existent if there is no envy. “Reign” would not exist, “House of Cards” would not exist, and so many more stories would not exist. The characters in our books would not have taken their faux pas if not for envy.
But, of course, envy can do terrible stuff. It makes some of us do diabolical things just to get what we want, or…the worst of it all, is that ENVY makes all of us deny that we ever envy.
We are taught to never “envy”, we love to claim that we never commit this one of the 7 sins, and we sit and we ZEN and think we are easy, breezy, and beautiful.
However, perhaps there’s a question that none of us can run away from- Why are we even trying to prove that we are never envious, and trying to look cool and calm and full of wisdom? Isn’t that also because we envy the people who ARE cool, and want to surpass those around us?
Now, don’t panic, because it is not a bad thing that we envy.
ENVY is a crackling of our mind, the sound of the most energetic muscles in our heart pumping a gush of blood, a disguised proof that we are still alive. And here comes the cheesy bit:
I think that if we want all individuals to be equal, if we want to allow everyone to aspire, then we should not look at ENVY as a bad thing, or at least, we should stop claiming that we never envy. We envy all the time, and most of the time, it is not a bad thing. We are all rational creatures, in the modern society, but ENVY is the bit in us that longs for things, in an almost-“savage”, riveting way. It is your mind and body’s little blunt, clumsy way of telling you that you are still alive. It is a warm fuzzy itch. All you gotta do is keep it under control.
Literally, you envy everyday. Even when you just sit at home and watch anime, you envy the other anime fans around the world, who, on top of sitting snugly at home and binge-watching animes, eat mac and cheese.
So, driven by “envy”, you stand up, trudge to the kitchen at the speed of a sloth, and make yourself a Kraft Mac n Cheese. Yup, that’s how we move on.