Why Do We Envy Others?

My brother came to visit and, to my utter shock, he told a story of how, for a class project, he used me as someone he looked up to and admired.

I was speechless by the confession.

Me?

I briefly wondered if I needed to rush him to get his head examined.

While I do work, it’s mostly part-time. I’ve never been the sparkly, career girl who runs a major corporation and flies out to the Bahamas on weekends.  I’m more of the stereotypical housewife in Japan who works part-time, studies Japanese, and works on my writing and other hobbies.

I am working to get certification for other career fields. There are reasons I can’t work full time right now (health wise).

However, I protested a bit in my surprise.  I have never viewed myself or my lifestyle as something to be envied.  In fact, I’m so used to lessening what I have that I find it hard to accept that others would want my life.

While my brother, Sean, doesn’t want my life per se, he explained that “You go after what you want with laser-life focus. You never give up until you get it.”

His words were a wake up call.  I became very quiet for a while after as I thought about it.

It’s true.

I wanted to work in Japan. I got that. I wanted to meet a man I could love and live with long term. I did that.  That part sort of happened. We just fell in together.

I wanted to have more free time to work on my writing and other hobbies and to develop them to (hopefully) become professional at them.  I achieved that.  As I thought about it, I realized I never wanted to be a high stakes career woman.

As strange as it might sound to some, I wanted a lot of what the house wife lifestyle had to offer. I don’t mind doing more of the house work and cooking. (It’s not asked of me, but I can’t stand a messy house and eating out is expensive and less healthy).

Why did I never appreciate my life before?  Why did I compare it so much to the “perfect” lives of others?

It never occurred to me that I have been envied.  In fact, there have been several who confused to me, “I want what you have”.  At the time, I dismissed it as nothing.

“I’m just a housewife”.

Why are we so trained to see that as shameful?

I don’t plan to be one forever, I like working and, when I’ve got better credentials and health matters are sorted out, I do plan to return to full-time working.

However, why is it that we are so trained to covet what others have and think they have it better.

My biggest fear in admitting this, is that it could lead to arrogance. My husband is a humble man.  For the longest time, I didn’t realize how high up he was in his company. I thought he was a lowly worker until I met his coworkers and they went out of their way to share their appreciation for what a “fantastic boss” he was.

Many of the female coworkers with children told — near misty-eyed — how he always understood if they needed to leave early. He motivated them and was always super inclusive.

Even high-ranking people in the company went out of their way to tell me and my brother what a great man my husband was.

I knew he was a great husband, but I didn’t realize he had people working under him.  I turned to my brother and was like, “D-did they just refer to my husband as boss?”

My brother was equally amused.

I suppose I just want this one post to feel good about all we’ve accomplished.  I’ll try not to let it go to my head.  It’s just nice to feel that maybe we have achieved something.

I certainly am lucky in the area I get to live in Japan.  It’s not the overcrowded urban sprawl of Tokyo, but it’s one of the most sought after suburban areas of Japan.

How did this happen?

It just sorta became that way.  I think if you live by principles things can happen that way.

All right.  I’m good.

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