I have a friend named Becki. Becki is so kind that everyone calls her ‘Mother Teresa.’ I have never heard her utter a mean word about anyone else. She is never jealous. She never gossips. She is good, through and through.
A few months ago, Nicole and I were on a run. I spent the first two miles absolutely tearing into this mutual acquaintance (just to clarify: not Becki). Nicole is my best friend in Charlotte, so she knows that I’m not normally so catty and let me rant. Our acquaintance had achieved something that I had not, and I was mad about how she had achieved it and what she was doing with this new success. “I would NEVER…” I ranted. “I would’ve done… I would say… That is so wrong… Who does she think she is?” Once I got it all out and finally stopped to catch a breath, I was ashamed. I was that woman who pits herself against other women for no real reason. In that moment, I wished I could be more like Becki, my Mother Teresa friend. I try to be as good as I can, but sometimes, I fall into the trap of jealously or cattiness or cruelty or hate.
And that’s when I remembered: Life is not a supermarket.
Life is not a supermarket stocked with limited quantities of happiness on the shelves. There are no shelves packed with loving partners, successful jobs, beautiful babies, and nice homes. Just because someone else has a loving partner, successful job, beautiful baby, or nice home doesn’t impact my ability to achieve the same things. Life can’t sell out on happiness.
Life is like the shore, where the ocean meets the sand. There’s room for us all to stand near the waves. The water recedes, the waves crash in. And sometimes, the waves bring in goodness. Washing up right at our feet are loving partners, successful jobs, beautiful babies, and nice homes. What one person receives down the shoreline doesn’t impact your ability to achieve happiness. And sometimes – just sometimes – you have to wade in and take the happiness you want.
In movies, when a terrifying natural disaster is near, everyone rushes to the supermarket, and two crazed women inevitably start fighting over the last loaf of bread. I’m tired of that treating others like we’re all staring down an empty, dusty supermarket shelf.
I’m ready to stand on the shore. I’m ready to get my feet wet.
I really struggle with the “supermarket” mentality. Especially when it comes to my career(s). I feel like if someone else is successful then they must have “stolen” the opportunity that was meant for me. Which is absurd. Especially if they truly deserve the success.
I wrote about this recently, too (specifically in regards to blogging) and someone said to me that it’s important to remember that the success pie is infinitely big and we’ll all get our piece. I like thinking of it that way.