"Let your haters be your motivators", they say. "Ain't nothin' to it but to do it", they say. Well, I say "they" are wrong. Or at least, they're not completely right. Every now and then, a healthy dose of positive envy can be a good thing. It doesn't have to get to Single White Female levels of weird. Trust.
Traditionally, we're taught not to covet other people's possessions or circumstances. We're told that comparison is the thief of joy and that the grass isn't always greener on someone else's lawn. We're taught to be content with who we are and what we have because we are individuals with our own paths and our own special sets of skills and assets. And, in theory, that's all well and good. However, in order to really grow as individuals... sometimes a little envy is not only healthy, but it's necessary.
While the distinction between envy and jealousy is fairly clear (i.e. the former is merely to covet and desire, while the latter is more directly linked to resentment, anger and blame), the line between envy and admiration is much less so. In fact, I'm inclined to posit that envy without admiration is just someone being a hatin' ass hater AND that admiration without envy is often a wasted opportunity for self-improvement.
I mean, in some form or fashion:
... And yet, none of us 30-somethings have attained Beyoncé's level of success. Now, that may very well be because we each define success differently (as we should); but at the same time, even in comparative terms (i.e. within the context of our own 'lanes'), many of us still haven't achieved the brass ring of success that we sometimes lose sleep over. And I think that's in part because we fear the possible side-effects of envy. Perhaps our fear of envy isn't so much rooted in the insatiable greed and/or entitlement that may come with it, but more so in the thought of actually "getting to great" and what that might really mean for our respective lives.
Here's the thing: For me, positive envy can only work if you go about if from a realist's perspective. In other words, you cannot envy someone blindly, choosing only to see the accolades and the glitter without recognizing the true grit and perseverance it took them to get to that space. Sometimes, we are quick to look at our friends and peers with rose-coloured glasses, internally coveting the successes they've achieved, whether it's professional, relationship-wise, financial, etc., without really focusing on the grind, missteps and patience it took for them to get there.
Positive envy (or peer-spiration as I've dubbed it) has to be a two-pronged approach whereby not only do you envy the person's outcome, but you also envy the resilience and drive that got them there. Peer-spiration is acknowledging someone's struggle to get to their success and instead of thinking to yourself: "Yeah... I don't want those problems", recognizing that you actually DO want the success badly enough to go through some shit. It's about shifting your mindset from a "can't do" attitude to one of "impossible is nothing". Positive envy can sometimes be just the thing you need to realize that playing it safe isn't often going to get you the results you're after.
Some of my closest friends and peers, though they may not know it, have provided me with much peer-spiration of late; which has caused me to shift my thinking on certain aspects of my life and what I want it to look like. And for clarification, peers-piration does not mean that I covet what my peers have. It's not rooted in competition. It just means that when I look at their respective successes and the ups & downs it took for them to get there, I'm inspired and reminded that I too am as capable as they are to achieve my own goals and that I shouldn't fear the bumps in the road that may lie ahead for me to get me there. No risk, no reward.
Sometimes the best motivation you can get is not from a pep talk, but by simply watching your peers hustle as they step into their purpose. Ain't nothing wrong with applauding their grind, while taking notes on how to improve your own.