Life is Not a Supermarket

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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.



  • Cassie @ Back to Her Roots October 27, 2011, 9:09 am

    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.

    • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 11:11 am

      Great post, Cassie.

  • Khushboo October 27, 2011, 9:12 am

    Great metaphor- it’s so easy to get caught up in things and not realise that we’re overreacting/thinking wrongly so this was a great reminder!

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers October 27, 2011, 9:12 am

    This is beyond beautiful- we all struggle with feelings of jealousy at times, and it’s hard to accept that. Sometimes good things happen to other people and not to you, and as much as you wish it was their fault, it’s not. I love your supermarket and ocean analogies. :P)

  • Hillary October 27, 2011, 9:12 am

    I think this is something that we all struggle with (especially women. Why IS that?!), but you’re right about one thing: just because someone else reaches success does not mean that there’s suddenly less success available for the rest of us. We’re living our own lives, at our own paces, and we need to realize that we’re going to achieve things at our own pace.

    • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 11:13 am

      I don’t know why women do this – honestly, I never ever hear men tear about other men the way women do it. It makes me sad and ashamed when I engage in the behavior and see others do it, too. We should be sticking together.

      • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 11:13 am

        *tear apart

  • Krystina (Organically Me) October 27, 2011, 9:15 am

    Interesting simile – I like it!

  • shah'ada @ from 280 to 26.2 October 27, 2011, 9:18 am

    i think one of the most important things we do is recognize this type of behavior. thanks for pointing it out!!! i’m going to work to be conscious of this behavior … eek!

  • Heidi October 27, 2011, 9:20 am

    Great post and I think we all could use this reminder from time to time. It’s easy to get jealous of other people’s success but we all have our own path and need to do things at our own pace.

  • Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun October 27, 2011, 9:22 am

    I love those comparisons. And I certainly still fall into the trap of comparing myself to others and getting upset when I feel that “why not for me” attitude. But then, I realize exactly that. “Why NOT me?” The answer – there is no reason and I just have to focus on making MY life the best possible. Reaching out for MY opportunities. Not someone else’s. Great post!

  • Natalcho @ Tomatoes Rock October 27, 2011, 9:25 am

    I compare myself to others very often but never out of envy – by that I mean that I don’t want others to do poorly, I just wish that I could do better. I think this is healthy but I agree it is a fine line.

    • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 11:14 am

      I think you are more like a Becki then 🙂

  • marci October 27, 2011, 9:29 am

    I love that line–life can’t sell out of happiness. So smart, there is room for us all.

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat October 27, 2011, 9:30 am

    Good metaphor Caitlin! I often find myself comparing (although I wouldn’t say that it’s in a harsh way) myself against other people, or at least sizing up what I have in comparison to them, and wishing I had their luck in x, y, or z. But really, I think the approach to take is the one you said – stand by the shore and get your feet wet – if you consider what’s right for you alone, you can make it happen. Happy Thursday!

  • Sara October 27, 2011, 9:30 am

    I am so glad I read this when I did. I am getting married tomorrow to a wonderful man who I have known for nearly 19 yrs, and he, among many other people in my life are nice reminders that life does not sale out of happiness. And my happy does not need to be packaged like anyone else’s happy. Thank God for that.

    • CaitlinHTP October 27, 2011, 9:31 am

      Congrats on your wedding 🙂 I am so truly happy for you. I wish you the best!!!!!!!!!

      • Sara October 27, 2011, 11:10 am

        Thank you! I’m also running my first 5k the morning after. That’s due in part to this wonderful man training for a marathon and inspiring me to pick up running as well.

        • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 11:16 am

          Oh wow 🙂 That is dedication. You are amazing!

  • kathleen @ the daily crumb October 27, 2011, 9:31 am

    what a great perspective, caitlin. very applicable to lots of emotions i am struggling with right now.

    • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 11:16 am

      I hope you find your way <3

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife October 27, 2011, 9:38 am

    Beautifully written. Life is beautiful and it is nice to stop and thank the Father for all he has done for us–and there is PLENTY to go around for us all 🙂 Plus, sharing that with others is the 1st step to achieving true happiness and success anyways—not gathering goods and worldly ‘stuffs’!

  • Emily October 27, 2011, 9:46 am

    Love this post!
    Dipping my toes in:)

  • Colleen October 27, 2011, 9:54 am

    This is so true…sometimes it seems like people are rushing through life just to keep up with everyone else. I like the thought of plodding along and working diligently toward something – anything, the anticipation of something can be almost as sweet as the reward. I have a few aquaintances that seem to want me to hurry through everything in life (new car, baby, etc.) but I am just enjoying life and will get to those things when I’m damn well ready! I know in my heart that they will be worth it, and there is no shortage to the rewards I will reap.

  • Jeanelle @ Glocal Girl October 27, 2011, 10:00 am

    This was a great metaphor. I think its so difficult (and perhaps female nature) to compare ourselves to other women and bitch/vent/cry when things don’t go perfectly in our own lives. Thanks for the necessary reminder that we need to just focus on our own happiness. Because its wonderful.

  • Anne@A Gluten-Less Foodie October 27, 2011, 10:01 am

    My favorite post of your’s! Thanks for the reminder Caitlin!

  • Christy October 27, 2011, 10:03 am

    Wow Caitlin… I am a long-time reader, first-time commenter. What you wrote here really touched me and I love the honesty. It has been an absolute pleasure watching you grow as a person.

    • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 11:18 am

      Thank you for reading and for commenting 🙂 I really appreciate it.

  • Casey @ Pocket Full of Sunshine October 27, 2011, 10:16 am

    This is a great post. I really struggle with this too, and I have to admit—a huge part of that is due to blogs and facebook, etc. Of course we don’t want to spread negativity over the Internet to everyone, but that makes it easy to make everyone else’s life perfect! And it’s not that I want others to be unhappy—it just helps to remind myself that I’m not the only one with problems; it’s just a part of life. I’m not “doing something wrong” that everyone else isn’t!

  • Army Amy* October 27, 2011, 10:17 am

    Great analogy! Definitely something to remember. Someone else’s success doesn’t take anything away from us.*

  • Faith @ For the Health of It October 27, 2011, 10:19 am

    Great perspective, Caitlin! And thank you, thank you, thank you for openly and honestly talking about some of the natural feelings of jealousy that women experience. It’s not a good mentality, but it does happen and we can be in control of our ability to give in to the negative or attacking feelings. Loved this post!

  • Reenie October 27, 2011, 10:21 am

    Great post ~ thx 🙂

  • Erin October 27, 2011, 10:27 am

    I read your blog everyday, but felt compelled to comment on this post. This is great writing! I really loved the message behind this. It’s so true that no one’s happiness or success affects your own.

    • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 11:18 am

      Thank you Erin. 🙂

  • Cindy Robinson October 27, 2011, 10:28 am

    Good for you! I think you’ve taken the most important step: realizing something negatively impacting you, and wanting to change. Get your feet wet girl!! It’s liberating 🙂 Your life will amazingly begin to change! Best wishes!!

  • Alexandra October 27, 2011, 10:35 am

    How insiring! I too am finally ready to wade into the water and get my feet wet 🙂

  • Jenifer October 27, 2011, 10:39 am

    Awww… girl! Things happen sometimes and it’s very very easy to see someone else who has been successful in something and be a little jealous. You seem to be a genuine person and you’ve helped thousands of women relize that it’s ok to be real!!

  • Sam October 27, 2011, 10:43 am

    Maybe it’s because I’m from New York, but IMO

    1.) There are no Becki’s (as in there are no Mother Teresa’s). At least in modern day America, in urban or suburban hubs. Everyone complains or rants or raves, even if they only do it in their heads, or to their partners, or to their wine glasses. I think to think of others as being these perfect or through and through “good” beings is an unfair comparison in and of itself, and just as harmful as the other kind.

    2.) I think it’s important to complain. It helps coworkers bond, friendships get closer, it helps figure out what people want, who they want to be and who they don’t want to be. In a way, it’s how communities are defined, worked out, solidified and strengthened. It can be just as productive, motivating, and fruitful as harmful, if not more so. It just depends on what you do with it.

    Just my two cents.

    • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 11:09 am

      Aww… I really do like to think there are purely good people out there. But maybe you are right. Maybe Becki rants in her own head and I just don’t know it. Although, ranting internally is WAY better than doing it to others I think… although – I see what you mean about complaining. I just think there’s a line about complaining about your own life and tearing down someone else’s. That’s a line that I just don’t want to cross anymore. You know?

      Thanks for sharing your two cents!!!

      • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 11:18 am

        Also – majorah LOLs that you started your comment off with “Maybe it’s because I’m from NY…”

        • Sam October 27, 2011, 11:33 am

          😉 Bitterness runs deep in these woods!

          Not to beat the bush, but isn’t comparing ourselves to people who are purely good another way of promoting negative self-talk? I guess that’s where I’m mixed up. You don’t just compare yourself to one person in the post, but to two (acquaintance and Becki). It goes both ways. You’re insinuating that you’ll feel better about yourself if you’re more like Becki.

          I dunno. Philosophical conundrum.

          • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 11:39 am

            Well… I don’t know. I’m not sure. But I think, at least in my mind and the way I think about myself and self-improvement goals, comparing yourself to someone who embodies wonderful personality qualities and striving to be a nicer person isn’t necessarily what I think of when I think of in terms of ‘negative self-talk.’ I do think it’s okay to think, “I do some things shittly, I could be a nicer person, and I should really work on improving my outlook.” I see this (at least for myself) as vastly different than saying “I am an ugly, stupid bitch who deserves to be unhappy.” I guess I look up to Becki because, to me, she PROVES that women – and by extension, me – can be nice and kind (at least outwardly) and not be catty to one another. That gives me something to strive for. I want to be more like that than the supermarket ladies.

            You give me a lot to think about!! So deep for a Thursday AM.

          • Maija October 27, 2011, 12:47 pm

            I had the same thought as Sam when I read this, I think the message is great but it can also be dangerous to compare yourself to Becki. Wanting to improve oneself is always a good thing but using someone else as an example is only going to be successful if you still tailor your goals to yourself. Using someone like that is a great catalyst but I think what Sam’s getting at is that it could be dangerous if, along the way, you are creating tendencies to get upset with yourself if you end up not embodying her traits as well as you want (which is a form of comparison I think a lot of women do to themselves).

    • Susan October 27, 2011, 1:14 pm

      Maybe you should read “A Complaint Free World.” I don’t think anything positive comes out of complaining. Yeah, it helps people bond by breeding more negativity. Good for Caitlin for recognizing what she was doing, and trying to strive to be like her friend.

      • Susan October 27, 2011, 1:14 pm

        Btw, this was directed to Sam.

  • Amanda October 27, 2011, 10:45 am

    This is a beautiful post, and a great reminder that it’s okay to be jealous from time to time, but we don’t need to (and shouldn’t) tear other people down because of it.

    I love this line: “Life can’t sell out on happiness.” Simple, but so powerful.

  • lauren October 27, 2011, 10:47 am

    Wow. This is beautiful.
    This line, in particular, stands out to me,
    “And sometimes – just sometimes – you have to wade in and take the happiness you want.”
    Your writing really shines when you write from the heart.

  • Dana October 27, 2011, 10:53 am

    My boss has 3 life rules.
    #1 is “You’re absolutely right officer.”
    #2 is “I’d be delighted to.” (Because when you’re asked to do something, you’re probably going to end up doing it, so you might as well make people think you’re glad to instead of complaining.)
    And #3 is “The Whole Package Rule”
    That one means that if you’re going to be jealous of someone, you have to be jealous of their ENTIRE life. If you’re jealous that a celebrity makes a lot of money… you also have to be jealous that they’re constantly followed by cameras and people go through their trash for info.
    It’s a really good rule and sometimes it helps to remind me before complaining about someone to think about their life and if I’m jealous of all of it.

    • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 11:07 am

      I like rule #3 a lot, Dana…. Something I will definitely keep in my mind when I feel the urge to be jealous or catty coming on.

    • Anne P October 27, 2011, 12:25 pm

      I love this – great tips.

    • Susan October 27, 2011, 1:15 pm

      I love #3! What an awesome way to look at it.

  • Meaghen October 27, 2011, 11:01 am

    This post really bothered me. I think you could have relayed the point you are trying to make without telling the entire internet that you spend “the first two miles absolutely tearing into this mutual acquaintance”. This mutual aquaintance may or may not read your blog, but I’m sure you have other mutual aquaintances that do and now everyone that you know is going to be wondering if you were “tearing into” them. I think it’s really rude and disrespectful of you to write this. I’m well aware you didn’t write specifics about the person or what you are saying, but it still doesn’t need to be said. I think sometimes reading a post before you hit publish would be a good idea. Or a lesson in tact, perhaps?

  • HTPDad October 27, 2011, 11:03 am

    Look on the bright side – women are not (as) socialized to ‘fight’ for ‘your share’ or exposed to war metaphors constantly.

  • Joanna @ things after the rings October 27, 2011, 11:05 am

    Wow! Love the new look! I usually read in Google reader and haven’t seen it yet. Looks so nice.

    Thanks for this post, for your honesty, and your eloquence. I definitely believe that there is an unlimited supply of happiness out there and love this analogy for it. But it’s definitely something I have to remind myself of too. Lately I’ve been worried (completely unwarranted at this point) that my siblings will start buying homes and having babies before me (I’m the oldest) and I have to remind myself that even if that does happen, it doesn’t make those events less significant or less happy for me.

    Thanks again. I’m definitely going to take this message with me when I’m home for the holidays seeing old friends.

    • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 11:23 am

      Thanks so much for commenting on my honesty. It is so hard to be honest sometimes because of people’s reactions but I know it’s important to me to write from the heart.

      The holidays are hard… I wish you the best. Dana (another commenter) had a good remark…

      “And #3 is “The Whole Package Rule”
      That one means that if you’re going to be jealous of someone, you have to be jealous of their ENTIRE life. If you’re jealous that a celebrity makes a lot of money… you also have to be jealous that they’re constantly followed by cameras and people go through their trash for info.”

    • Vikki October 27, 2011, 3:28 pm

      Don’t box yourself in with expectations. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean that you have to have babies or buy a house right away. It is smarter to wait until you’re ready. The year my younger brother got married was tough for me. I was happy for him and my sister-in-law, but I was upset because I was the oldest. I should get married first. I should have babies first. I should buy a house first. Etc. That year, I put on a lot of weight and went through a crisis where I questioned everything.. I had to come to terms with the fact that things happen in their own time. You can’t force it. I boxed myself in with expectations and wants.

      That was seven years ago. At 33, I’m still single (not even dating), but I’m happier than I was back then when I expected to get married, have babies, and follow the prescribed path that all my other friends and family followed. I’m doing what makes me happy. I like my job, I own a small house, I knit, I hoopdance, and I write. My friends and family roll their eyes now when I do something that they think is crazy like hula hoop with fire or spend a week at a writing, hooping, or knitting convention. It is my life. It doesn’t have to be like my brother’s or my mother’s, or my best friend’s.

      There is nothing wrong with the oldest not being first. Follow your own path and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.

      • CaitlinHTP October 27, 2011, 4:28 pm

        Fire hula hooping sounds pretty awesome.

        • Vikki October 27, 2011, 4:48 pm

          It is awesome. I’ve done it twice. I need to buy my own fire hoop. 🙂

  • Mel @ Post Grad Mel October 27, 2011, 11:07 am

    I think this post deserves some kind of ‘Amen.’ It also reminds me of that scene in Mean Girls at the mathlete competition when Cady realizes that talking badly about the girl on the other team won’t help her solve the equation any faster or make her any better at all. 🙂

    • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 11:24 am

      Yay! I love mean girls. 🙂 best movie ever.

  • jane October 27, 2011, 11:15 am

    love love love it! this is so great. i really dont have anything else to say except that this is your # 1 top post. fantastic

    • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 11:24 am

      Thank you Jane.

      PS – I love your name!

  • Sarah @ See Sarah Eat October 27, 2011, 11:25 am

    Love this! And appreciate your honesty 🙂

  • Cait October 27, 2011, 11:26 am

    Great post! I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately when it comes to grades. Sometimes it feels like the only way to look good in comparison to other students is to cut them down. My mantra is “My success does not depend on others’ failure.”

    • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 11:27 am


  • AlisonJ October 27, 2011, 11:29 am

    I have honestly been feeling pretty jealous of some of my friends right now (why do they have X when I don’t?). I have to realize that the grass is not always greener. I need to focus on myself, what I want, and do what I can to make it happen.

  • Taylor @ Crumbs Don't Count October 27, 2011, 11:30 am

    Great post and SO true. I got an email awhile ago (years ago) and it was something along the lines of:

    Someone will always be prettier.
    They will always be smarter.
    They will have more money in their checking account.
    Their house will be bigger.
    They will drive a better car.
    Their children will do better in school.
    And their husband will fix more things around the house.
    So let it go,
    and love you and your circumstances….
    Think about it.
    The prettiest woman in the world can have hell in her heart.
    And the most highly favored woman on your job may be unable to have children.
    And the richest woman you know,she’s got the car, the house, the clothes….might be lonely.
    And the word says if “If I have not Love, I am nothing.”
    So love who you are.
    Smile and say:’I am too blessed to be stressed and too anointed to be disappointed!’

    • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 11:31 am

      Double AMEN!

  • Sarah October 27, 2011, 11:38 am

    Great post! I went through a big uproar when I was a teen where I learned (the hard way) never to gossip. I have actually cut people out of my life who gossip because it’s so easy to slip back in.

  • Cat @Breakfast to Bed October 27, 2011, 11:39 am

    This is so true. I think we all need a reminder of this every once in a while. (or more often than that!)

  • Vikki October 27, 2011, 11:40 am

    The secret to happiness is trying to be content with what you have. There is an old hymn that I love to think of when I read things like this. It says “Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Do not be discouraged….” Singing this hymn to myself helps me get back on track. There are a lot of good things in my life and only a few bad things. Focusing on the positive things is definitely a way to improve one’s mood.

    That being said, it is okay to be unhappy. It is okay to be dissatisfied with your life. No one would achieve anything without a little dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction with outcomes motivates us to change and to grow and to become better people. It is part of the joy of being human. We don’t have to remain stagnant, we can become better.

    So count your blessings and remember that if you aren’t happy with you, you can do something about it. 🙂

    • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 11:41 am

      Thank you for sharing your philosophy Vikki!

      • Vikki October 27, 2011, 3:59 pm

        I feel I should note that this philosophy was the result of being an unhappy jealous bitter hag. Realizing that I could controlled my own happiness was a life changing moment for me.

  • Steph @ A Life without Ice Cream October 27, 2011, 11:43 am

    I think this is a common thing we all struggle with and thank you for being so open and honest about it!

    I also really like the supermarket analogy and might have to post that somewhere so I remember it 🙂

  • becca @ bellebottoms October 27, 2011, 11:50 am

    what a beautiful post! thanks for the encouragement!

  • Stephanie October 27, 2011, 11:53 am

    you do such an amazing job of writing what so many other women are thinking, so thank you. i’m sure it’s not easy revealing your faults or “not-so-nice” moments to the world and i think you’re incredibly brave for doing so. and i’m glad you do because it is a reminder that being confident and assured and the best version of ourselves is a constant work in progress.

  • Moni'sMeals October 27, 2011, 11:56 am

    So well put and I love the way you put it. xo!

    If we can remember that Life is always going to be work and this means on ourselves too, I think it suddenly gets easier and we feel less pressure on the rough days. 🙂

  • Lee October 27, 2011, 11:56 am

    This was a timely post for me to read. I just found out some bad news and immediately, I started comparing my life to my friends. Why do they have better jobs? Make more money? etc, etc.

  • Peppy October 27, 2011, 12:03 pm

    Love your blog. But no love for this post. How much can you have so much and still be jealous of someone else? You have written three books, married to a doctor, semi-famous, young, healthy, etc etc……kind of annoying to the rest of us who don’t have half of what you do. Bleh. Maybe it’s just my jealousy. Just commenting from from the heart.

    • Jen October 27, 2011, 12:10 pm

      I think that’s the point; no matter what you have, it’s always possible to look at someone else and say, “But I want THAT too!” I think it’s ingrained in our culture to never be satisfied; there’s pressure to always look ahead to the next accomplishment or acquisition, without ever being thankful for what you have already. Jealousy has nothing to do with the amount of accomplishments or gifts a person has; it’s a mindset of comparison in which what you have inevitably fails to measure up to your desires.

      • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 12:14 pm

        Well said, Jen.

    • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 12:13 pm

      Thank you for being honest. I REALLY respect that, Peppy. I do not blog about everything that goes on in my life and happens to me and everything I feel. I would love to blog about these trials but I cannot because they involve other people/the past that I cannot drudge up for personal reasons. I guess that’s all I really can say without saying too much. I have really tried to never wrap up my whole life in a little neat package on the blog and be open about some of these issues (depression, self-harming). I hope I NEVER come off as perfect or having a perfect life because, although it is a very good life and I am grateful, trust me – it’s certainly not perfect. Again – thanks a lot for your comment and honestly. I really appreciated it.

  • Jen October 27, 2011, 12:05 pm

    Great post! I’m in a rather competitive grad program, so this atmosphere is thick with “if you fail, I have a better shot at success.” I hate it, and it’s the reason why I’m leaving academia even though I really love studying literature. At some point, it stopped being about literature, though, and I started to dread seminar, which tends to be all about cutting down other people’s interpretations in order to make oneself look better.

    • Dee October 27, 2011, 3:40 pm

      Jen, re:grad school, totally relate, it’s evil! Grad seminars are the worst. When I wanted to leave, a non-grad school friend told me, Let people be evil, but at the end of the day you’ll still have your degree and you can work it any way you want. That little insight got me through the program, but I hightailed it out of academia. Not the career for me, because that cutting attitude continues… my friends who persisted into professordom can attest.

      • Jen October 27, 2011, 7:09 pm

        Yeah, I reached the same conclusion about a career in academia. I’m finishing my program this spring, but seeing how people have behaved at this level really made me not want to keep going in a PhD program, only to deal with the competitiveness in this very very tough job market (I’m getting an MA in English) after completing a dissertation.

  • Kat October 27, 2011, 12:12 pm

    Well said Caitilyn. It’s too easy to lose sight of the infinite amounts of joy and happiness available out there for all of us. Thank you so much for your honesty and for the reminder.

  • Katie @ Peace Love and Oats October 27, 2011, 12:13 pm

    Not gonna lie, I feel like life is supermarket when it comes to men in Chicago… They’re all taken! Haha. Okay, I know they aren’t, but it feels like it! Good post though, I try and catch myself when I am putting others down and try to re-focus on myself!

    • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 12:15 pm

      Haha. 🙂 Anyone in Chicago know a good man for Katie???

  • Brittany @ GOtheXtraMile October 27, 2011, 12:20 pm

    I think every one has trouble with jealousy. I wish that I could be like your “mother theresa” friend as well, but we all have our moments. Great post!

  • Nicole G October 27, 2011, 12:27 pm

    This post is awesome. I think I need to print it, put it somewhere and read it daily. I get WAY too caught up in the “He/she/they have it and I don’t!” mental game (which I unfortunately inherited from my mother).

    Thanks for this reminder and hopefully we can all be more like your friend Becki.

  • Anne P October 27, 2011, 12:30 pm

    Great post and love the analogy, too. A good reminder to be grateful for what we each have, too. It can be so easy to get wrapped up in being jealous for what others have that you don’t, and like you said – it really doesn’t matter – someone else’s success will not dictate my failure, or vice versa. Better to spread some positive energy – being negative and catty will do nothing but make us feel bad, too.

  • Cheryle October 27, 2011, 12:30 pm

    Caitlin, I smiled while reading this post. When I was younger, I had a hard time celebrating other people’s successes. But sometime in my late 30’s, I realized that life is not a zero sum game. Kudos to you for realizing that as a much younger woman!

    It’s incredibly freeing when you can just let go and be focused on being happy for others, instead of being bitter about what’s not going right in your life. This change in thinking has affected me to my core, and has been key to everything from my outlook on work to my political beliefs. Such a simple thing, but so powerful, too.

    I feel a blog post on this subject coming on, with full credit to you as inspiration!

    • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 12:44 pm

      I can’t wait to read it!

  • Kelley October 27, 2011, 12:44 pm

    Great post. However, I totally thought you and your friend were tearing apart Becki because of the wording and I thought “wow this is SO awkward…” I had to keep reading it understand what you were saying!

    • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 12:44 pm

      Whoops! NEVER!

    • Jan October 27, 2011, 3:53 pm

      Yeah, I thought the same thing. The wording seemed awkward to me at first read and then read-through. Interesting post nevertheless.

  • Jen October 27, 2011, 1:03 pm

    This is the exact reason I quit Facebook about six months ago. I could hear the same horrible, irrational thoughts in my head — “I can’t believe she got that promotion, she was so dumb in high school” or “Wow, she’s getting married, never thought that would happen” — and be so disappointed in the catty, jealous person I’d become.

    My life is much more sane now without some invisible pressure from Facebook that I was putting on myself!

    • Caitlin October 27, 2011, 1:04 pm

      I have also been thinking of quitting FB for this reason. Maybe I will follow your lead… Or at least unfriend a few people that I shouldn’t be connected with on FB anymore, anyway.

      • AmandaonMaui October 27, 2011, 3:22 pm

        I’m getting in line with you ladies! I’m going to try cutting back my friends list, then I may just leave it altogether. I don’t necessarily see myself doing the same catty things, but it can leave me upset or drained after reading it. I’d rather read wonderful blogs like this than Facebook posts!

    • Renee October 27, 2011, 6:10 pm

      Wonderful Insight!!! Facebook is an incredible amount of “invisible pressure”. It makes me nuts. I just haven’t been able to put it into words why I feel depressed after checking my facebook. I worry for my kiddos growing up with Facebook, etc. It was nice growing up only comparing myself to those that I actually knew. Teenagers CANNOT have 1,000 friends in real life. Imagine a being a teenage girl and feeling this “Invisible Pressure” from 100’s of “friends” and NOT even realizing it. Heck, I’m 40 years old and just had my “Ah Ha” moment.

  • Corinne October 27, 2011, 1:06 pm

    Found this link on MSN today and thought of you…it’s great (even if it is written by MC Mag)! (ma!

  • Crystal October 27, 2011, 1:22 pm

    Wow, this was definitely posted at just the right time! I have been guilty of thinking these thoughts about someone else’s success. Your thought-provoking posts are always my favorite to read…even the comments are good. Thanks so much!

  • Amber K October 27, 2011, 1:25 pm

    Such a great sentiment Caitlin.

    I get stuck in that supermarket mentality more often than I’d like. It’s definitely something I want to work on and something I can if I just take the time to do so.

  • Katherine October 27, 2011, 1:32 pm

    Oh man, I have this tendency mainly when it comes to my career. I am working at a job that I despise. I have been searching for a new job for about a year and a half, and I have not had any success whatsoever. All of my closest friends currently have extremely successful careers, making way, WAY more money than I do, and sometimes it’s so hard for me to bear.
    Outwardly, I am able to act completely happy for them, but on the inside I am burning up because I feel like I will never find my opportunity. It’s such a terrible feeling.
    I like the metaphor that you use in this post. Just because my friends are (deservedly) happy, it doesn’t mean that any chance of my success is impossible. Deep down I know that, I just have to remember it more often!

  • Michelle October 27, 2011, 1:37 pm

    This was exactly what I needed to hear this morning, thank you!

  • Cindi October 27, 2011, 1:41 pm

    I’ve found this only gets worse as I’ve become a mom. Mom groups are super exclusive (who knew?) and very judgey! Everyone criticizes what you do with your children, how you dress them, the brand of your stroller, if your baby is sitting/crawling/walking first or last, and which music / gymboree classes you take your kids to, and how quickly you lose your baby weight. It makes it tricky to just be happy and thankful for what you DO have. I don’t know why women have this jealous gene that our men just don’t seem to have. It’s really sad. I have to be extra aware of all of these things now more than ever because I have a daughter.

    • CaitlinHTP October 27, 2011, 2:01 pm

      That is terrible. Come over and hang with me. 🙂

  • Danielle October 27, 2011, 2:02 pm

    Great post! I tend to do this myself and I know it’s a bad habit.

    I always think of the Morrissey song “We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful when I get into that mentality. 😉

  • dana October 27, 2011, 2:20 pm

    Great analogy with the shoreline and wading in the water to get what you want!

  • Amy S. October 27, 2011, 2:34 pm

    I have a friend Becki who is exactly the same way! Her car was recently stolen and clearly she was pissed. When it was recovered, she noticed the back seat was made out as a bed, and there were children’s jackets scattered. She actually felt bad for the people who stole her car, feeling like she stole their home! What is it about Becki’s that make them so selfless?

    I’m glad you’re taking a different approach to life, I’m doing the same and it is difficult! Good luck to you, and I have a feeling we will be reading a pregnancy annoucement in a few months! 🙂

  • Ellie@fitforthesoul October 27, 2011, 2:35 pm

    ahhh amen to this Caitlin!! I love how beautifully you wrote each paragraph. That aside, I think it’s soo wonderful when we can all see each other’s value. Whether we know that person or whether he/she is a stranger, it’s so awesome to just rejoice with them when something good is happening! 🙂 I love your honest posts. ps: I think this would be SUCh a great addition to operation beautiful, b/c true beauty shines from the inside out!

  • Becca October 27, 2011, 2:42 pm

    I thought this was lovely – and am glad to see so many of us are working each day to cut the jealousy. Wishing you the best!

  • Jamie October 27, 2011, 3:04 pm

    I know a Mother Theresa too…she ALWAYS has something nice to say…everytime I see her it reminds me to not just notice nice things about people but to SAY them so that maybe I will make people feel just a little bit the way I always feel when I see her…HAPPY.

  • Alyssa @ Don't Look Down October 27, 2011, 3:14 pm

    I LOVE this post and all the metaphors. And the comments on it were great too! This is a trap I find myself falling into as well. But the truth is only I can determine my future and instead of wishing it away.
    If you don’t like something change it and if you don’t want to change it then accept it and don’t complain. Those were the choices my mom gave me when I was younger and maybe I should just stick with those choices.

  • colleen October 27, 2011, 3:18 pm

    great post Caitlin! I have just recently decided, again, to get my feet wet. It feels so much better than dry feet.

  • AmandaonMaui October 27, 2011, 3:20 pm

    This is such an important topic. Women are constantly being pitted against other women in our society. I really suggest you read the book “Enlightened Sexism” by Susan J. Douglas.

    One section of her book talks about how shows like “Real Housewives” or “My Super Sweet 16” and other reality shows encourage women at home to get catty about the women on the show, who are getting catty at one another. We are encouraged to see other women as the enemy. When we see other women as the enemy we lose our chance for any solidarity. We lose our chance to inspire great change for women.

    As one woman who inspires women to see beauty in others through Operation Beautiful, I am sure you are aware of the need for women to come together. We should not pick at each other for what we are wearing, how our makeup is done, how our hair is done, or even our accomplishments in life.

    I’m not perfect. I picked at the dress of a beautiful singer on “The Sing-Off” because it was too short for her. I know I shouldn’t have done that. There was no need. I should have been focusing on her lovely voice instead of the dress.

    This is a fantastic topic and opportunity for all of us here to change the way we view and interact with other women.

    Seriously though, if you get the chance check out that book. I believe you can get it on for a good price.


    • AmandaonMaui October 27, 2011, 3:50 pm

      Inspired by the discussion here, I had to do a “Counting My Blessings” post.

      • CaitlinHTP October 27, 2011, 4:27 pm

        Thank you! I have heard a lot about that book – maybe its time I check it out!

        • AmandaonMaui October 29, 2011, 7:48 pm

          I’m attempting to earn a certificate in gender studies, so if I spot something really good I’ll let you know about it if you’d like. 🙂

  • Dee October 27, 2011, 3:36 pm

    Wow, this is such an insightful post. More than any of the other blogs I read, you really are willing to take an honest look at yourself or situations and reflect and grow from what you learn. That is awesome.

    And I agree with your metaphor, it is so true that there is enough happiness for all of us. A friend of mine and I sometimes note about “haterism”, that it often comes from not believing you can have the same thing, and that this belief is an illusion/delusion. People who believe they can have the same thing are able to be genuinely happy for others, and invest their energy in going after what they want (or making peace that maybe they don’t want it as bad), instead of in being angry or frustrated… or bitter.

    Your supermarket and ocean metaphors illustrate this idea perfectly. I think you need to copyright it!

    • CaitlinHTP October 27, 2011, 4:27 pm

      🙂 Thanks Dee

  • Shayla @ The Good Life October 27, 2011, 3:40 pm

    Wow such a great post Caitlin and thank you for your honesty, and love the analogies you used. I can totally relate to this and really relate to the comments above about Facebook. Many times while trolling through my friends FB pages I get consumed with jealousy when I see another baby they had, or a new house they bought, or the wonderful job they have, etc., etc. I compare it to myself and think I should have xyz like they do. But I also have to remember to be thankful of all the wonderful things I have in my life that they may not have and to count my many blessings 🙂

  • Erin October 27, 2011, 4:35 pm

    Wow! Thank you Caitlin for writing such an inspiring post… I am always trying not to judge.

    In fact, whenever I catch myself judging someone else I repeat “Don’t judge, don’t blame, be kind.” It forces me to remember that I don’t have any right or any reason to judge someone else and nothing good comes of it. Rather I continously try to remind myself that I don’t know what they’re going through, what their life has been like and who they are. Even for friends and family members – you really never know what they’re dealing with so who am I to judge?

    I love your analogies and am ready to get my feet wet too!

  • Danielle October 27, 2011, 4:36 pm

    Thank you for this post. It came at the perfect time because today, I was so depressed that it has been 3 years since my graduation (college) and I have yet to obtain a permenent full-time contract at my elementary school. I was feeling so depressed about having no money, working .3, having debt and on top of that we are headed to Mexico in 2 weeks and they are currently experiencing a tropical storm. I was feeling very sorry for myself and at lunch with a girlfriend I couldnt’ ‘stop myself from thinking “if only my life was like hers…”
    But then I stopped and thought..I have NO idea what someone’s life is really like. It may seem perfect and what we want but they could be going through something that is 10x more difficult than what we are going through. Or despite all of their good “luck” they could be miserable.
    Thanks for bringing me back to reality 🙂

    • CaitlinHTP October 27, 2011, 4:38 pm

      I hope the storm doesn’t ruin your plans! 🙂 I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

  • Lauren October 27, 2011, 4:38 pm

    Great post Caitlin! Thank you for sharing your heart, wisdom, and experience in an effort to help us all.

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) October 27, 2011, 4:40 pm

    very well said!!!! I could not agree more 🙂

  • Melissa @ Be Not Simply Good October 27, 2011, 5:28 pm

    I love this! So true. Thanks for a great reminder.

  • Philippa Wadsworth October 27, 2011, 5:52 pm

    I am a bit of a fan of your blog, if from afar!! I am not normally one to comment, but this blog really had to commented on.

    I too have a friend who I swear is almost a saint! Whenever I am being bitchy I always think, Nicole would never do this. She really is one of the most sweetest and genuine people you could ever hope to meet. When she says she is happy for you she means it from the bottom of her heart.

    Me on the other hand always finds myself offering congratulations whilst thinking to myself ‘why wasn’t it me?’. I have tried so hard to push these thoughts away, because I simply don’t want to be one of those people. Imagine how wonderful it must be to offer your congratulations and actually mean it.

    Your post also reminded me of something I read in Glamour (UK Ed) on the same topic. In an interview Terri Hatcher (who I never thought much of before!) was saying that she feels very much like this and how silly it is. Something along the lines of, just because another person has a slice of life’s pie it doesn’t mean there won’t be some more for you!

    I am working hard at being truly happy for my fabulous friends who are all achieving so much, be it starting up a new company, having babies, getting married. But I am also working hard at me. Recognising and seizing the opportunities that life presents me with. Because it does, we just have to be ready to embrace it. 🙂

    • CaitlinHTP October 27, 2011, 6:03 pm

      I think saint friends help keep the rest of us in line 🙂 I’m thankful for their good influence.

      I have read a few Terri Hatcher interviews in which I thought afterwards, “WOW! I am surprisingly impressed.” I’m going to see if I can dig up the one you’re talking about.

      Thanks for reading!

      • Philippa Wadsworth October 28, 2011, 6:04 pm

        Me too. I’m just glad she decided to be my friend!

        If you find that interview let me know, I spent hours on Google looking for it and no luck 🙁

        And thanks for blogging!! 🙂

  • Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) October 27, 2011, 5:55 pm

    SO true! Thank you for posting this and for the reminder. Just because someone else has something we don’t or has achieved something we haven’t in no way means that we cannot live a happy, exciting and fulfilling life each and every day!

  • ellen October 27, 2011, 5:57 pm

    You’re only human! I’m sure Becki is wonderful, but that just doesn’t seem natural to be like that 100 percent of the time. Maybe I’m just jealous 😉 And whenever you have a moment like this, just remember all the people who are envious of YOUR successes…including ME!

  • Liza October 27, 2011, 7:54 pm

    I think getting wiser is a part of growing up process. Caitlin, I have been following your blog for about 2 years now and you are definitely growing as a human being. What you posted today is right on, don’t expect a happy successful life just because, work hard on it and it will happen.

  • Jacalyn October 27, 2011, 8:06 pm

    Can I have you text me little nuggets like this on a daily basis? Almost every year my new year resolution is to be more positive, but I continuously fall short. Some days I can catch my negativity and stop it early enough that it doesn’t affect my days, others I am not so good. Sigh. Such a struggle.

  • Ginger October 27, 2011, 8:13 pm

    Found my way over from Tina’s blog. What a great post! Timely for me, as I’m dreading taking a friend (who thinks her life is falling apart) to a prenatal appt next week out of total jealously bc I’d like another baby. That’s crazy now that I write it down! It’s bad to be jealous of anyone but esp. your friends.

    Good luck on your journey!

    • CaitlinHTP October 27, 2011, 9:00 pm

      I understand what you mean about those crazy baby feelings. I hope your friend comes to terms and becomes happy. xoxo

  • McKenzie October 27, 2011, 8:53 pm

    Great post! I often cringe when I see women against women violence. I think jealousy, gossiping and backbiting can be worse than physical blows. I love the supermarket analogy sometimes what you want isnt on special or on your aisle right now. You can thrash the person whose experiencing happiness in their aisle. I plan to share this with galpals:)

  • Christie October 27, 2011, 9:12 pm

    I commend you for sharing these feelings. I think we’ve all been there, and hate when we catch ourselves thinking like that. At least you recognize, acknowledge it and think to move forward positively. Those GOTR sure are lucky to have such a good role model!

  • Ashleigh - October 27, 2011, 9:48 pm

    That was such a wonderful post! Brightened my day and helped me to put a positive spin on things!

  • Jolene ( October 28, 2011, 12:11 am

    What a great post Caitlin – thanks for your honesty.

  • Jen October 28, 2011, 2:00 am

    This is beautiful and so are you! I think that the fact that you are always striving to be a better person says a lot about the type of person you are!

  • Sophie @ threetimesf October 28, 2011, 6:50 am

    Love this post – it’s so true. Remind me of this Buddha quote..

    “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

  • Karen October 28, 2011, 9:56 am

    I am this metaphor! This could be a life-changer for me.

  • Rob October 28, 2011, 10:39 am

    Holding A Grudge Is Letting Someone Live Rent-Free In Your Head.

  • Christy October 28, 2011, 11:13 am

    I loved this post, and loved the comments even more. I think everyone has these feelings, but even in the comments we try to help eachother. 🙂

    • CaitlinHTP October 28, 2011, 11:15 am

      I agree, Christy!

  • Liz October 28, 2011, 7:32 pm

    I love this post – I definitely struggle with this and I’ve never heard this metaphor before – so thank you! I have heard that happiness begets happiness, so the happier someone else is the MORE happiness there is to be had by all.

  • Rachel October 29, 2011, 3:52 am

    I loved this post! The limitlessness of happiness is something that I think we could all do with reminding every once in a while. I really liked your honesty in this post as well. I know a lot of women look up to you (starting Operation Beautiful and all), and to know that you face the same challenges are the rest of us (in this case, being catty and then feeling bad about it and wishing you could be more nice), it’s just nice to be reminded that we are all human and we all face similar problems, but none of our flaws make us any less worthy of happiness. I really liked the analogies you made here too.
    Your post and some of the comments reminded me of a quote from the book series The Sword of Truth: “Your life is yours alone. Rise up and live it.” I love love love this quote, and even have it on my computer desktop as a reminder to myself to not let what happens in other people’s lives, or any expectations (mine, other people’s or society in general), determine how I should live my life. My life is mine and I should live it the way I see fit and do the things that make me happy.
    I’m not sure if you will read this because I’m commenting a couple of days late, but keep up the good work Caitlin, you’re awesome =)

  • Heidi October 29, 2011, 7:02 am

    This post reminds me of something a speaker at my college graduation said-“God’s delay is not God’s denial.” As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized just how true that is. Just because your friends have the perfect job, beautiful baby, etc. doesn’t mean you can’t work towards that too…it just sometimes takes a bit longer.

    • Caitlin October 29, 2011, 12:40 pm

      I LOVE THIS.

  • Meghan October 29, 2011, 6:53 pm

    Loved this post. I’m just now catching up on my blogs and this one really resonated with me, especially after this week. I find myself hung up on jealousy way to much, thinking that if someone else got it (job, nice house, whatever), I’ve lost my shot at it. But you’re right, there is no limit on how happy people can be and what “good things” are out there. Great job articulating this.

  • Kristina November 3, 2011, 10:41 am

    Not sure if you are still reading comments, but I have to jump in here. I actually think that it’s okay to ‘tear into’ other people on occasion, as long as it’s not EVERYONE, all the time.
    There is a woman at work who gets under my skin in a way that I’ve never experienced before. NEVER. I work with plenty of crazy people, I don’t get along with everyone and I’m not in a contest for Miss Popular. But this woman is just a piece of work.
    I’ve looked at the ‘why’ she drives me crazy, and it’s something that I’m not going to fix and I don’t think that my reaction will change (not to be negative or have a “fixed” mindset, it’s just that way). But I’m okay. I don’t talk trash about her to other people at work and I’ve decided that there are reasons that she gets under my skin. Some of it is my shit, but some of it is also how she is.

  • Trisha February 4, 2012, 7:15 pm

    Wow I love love love this, what a great metaphor! I need to remind myself this more often, to stop comparing what other people have to what I have. I need to appreciate everything I am blessed with, and TRULY be happy for others when they are blessed with good things too, not jealous! There really is room for everyone at the shoreline.

  • Melissa August 28, 2013, 3:30 pm

    I just had to tell you that this is my favorite post you have written (or at least of all your posts I have read, which is a great many :-)). I read it when you published it back in 2012, and I thought of it today….looked it up, and loved it all over again. This time its getting bookmarked.

    • Caitlin August 28, 2013, 4:10 pm

      Thank you!

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