Vice Week: On Envy

When we were all discussing which of the sins we’d take for this whole theme week thing, I stated that the one I probably should not do is envy. Because really, the only thing I am sincerely somewhat jealous of, weirdly, is people who can get jealous. “Well that’s a good angle! Do that!” Amelia insisted! So here we are!

Trust me, I do not have any kind of out of this world self-esteem. I am not the best writer I know, I am not the prettiest lady I know, I am not the funniest person I know. I feel as though I have all of these things in fairly acceptable quantities, and am generally always trying to improve myself. I am quite sure that people think I’m much smarter than I actually am, only because my areas of interest are somewhat unusual. I don’t know more things than other people, I just know different things. I am brimming only with a completely reasonable amount of confidence.

To be quite honest, what people see as me having a lot of self-esteem is actually probably closer to apathy. I would not want to live in a world where I am the smartest, funniest, most attractive person and the best writer, so it really doesn’t occur to me that I should be bothered by other people being better than I am. In fact, I genuinely love being around people who are awesome at stuff I’m not good at, or even better than me at the stuff that I am. I like being inspired by people.

I also just don’t really want to “envy” people, because you just never know what’s going on or what’s happened in someone’s life. It makes me nervous.

This is not to say I’m not ridiculously competitive at stupid things like bar trivia and what have you, because I totally am.

But that’s not really where any of this is a problem.

The fact that I don’t really understand jealousy and am kind of a pathological existentialist is not exactly a good thing when it comes to relationships. I am not good at doing relationships. I don’t quite know how to work them.

For example: I was dating this dude for a while, and one night we were at a bar and I saw one of my writer friends and started talking to him for like four minutes. Dude asked me if I wanted him to leave, because “obviously” I was interested in writer friend. This was incorrect. I informed him that if I wanted to date my friend, I would, and that he should infer, from the fact that I was on a date with him, that I wanted to be there. Why would I do a thing I didn’t want to do? What would be in that for me?

Similarly, fellas have told me that it bothers them that I don’t care if they talk to other ladies, or even if we are not in a committed relationship. They brag to me about other girls who have set their things on fire or pushed them into traffic because they thought they were cheating. I’m not ever going to be that person, and I honestly don’t know how to be.

I am not ever going to be the person to be like “SO. How about we have a ‘talk’ about whether or not we are in a committed relationship.” For one thing, I am not especially mature and completely dread ‘talks’ as they kind of make me feel like I am in the principal’s office. For another, while I accept that this is just the way things are done, it doesn’t quite make sense to me logically.

Let me try to explain. I feel weird about telling people what to do in that respect. If I am madly in love with someone and the thought of being with someone else makes me want to vomit, then that is awesome! I will just be with that one person. If they feel the same way, then that is also awesome. But I would just prefer that that happen naturally and organically than as a result of me telling anyone what to do. I have zero interest in saying “You cannot date anyone else because I said so and we are in the confines of a committed relationship.” I’m not sure I mentally conflate following rules with someone loving me or not.

I can’t seem to shake the feeling that commitment for commitment’s sake is an act of bad faith. It feels somehow more dishonest to me than cheating ever would. I would likely be more offended, in terms of cheating, that anyone would bother to be dishonest with me in the first place.

Oddly, this is not to say that I would ever cheat on anyone when I had told them I would not do so. If I very much wanted to cheat on someone in that situation, I would take that as a sign and just break up with them. I’m not jealous, but I’m also not a liar and I do my best not to hurt people.

My other problem is that I truly have no problem with being alone. If I am dating a fella and he’s awesome, then that’s just gravy, but I’m not like, running around trying to find someone, anyone for fear of being alone. This tendency means I get called “picky” pretty often, but hey, I kinda feel like this is a thing I have every right to be picky about. Frankly, I feel as though if I were going to be in a relationship with someone, I’d actually prefer to have it be with a picky person rather than someone for whom being with me, or really any other girl, was simply preferable to not being by himself.

To be honest, the only thing I have ever read in my life, re: romantic relationships, that ever made complete and total sense to me was, in some part of Sartre’s “Being and Nothingness.” Which, my god, is such an embarrassingly pretentious thing to admit to, but it’s true. It was truly the first time I had my own thoughts on this explained to me by someone else who was, duh, quite a bit more clever than I am. I guess that means I’m an existentialist when it comes to the romance, which is unfortunate considering I have sworn off dating philosophy professors forever.

I wish I could do things normally, or at least figure out the way they’re supposed to be done. However other people do things. I probably can’t just hand dudes a ginormous copy of “Being and Nothingness” and be like “Here is how I work!”–because my god, that would be gross and I would hate me.

True story–I actually have consulted Dr. Google on whether or not feeling this way made me some kind of sociopath or meant I had some kind of personality disorder, but apparently sociopaths are actually quite big on the jealousy, so I’m at least in the clear there. I think at some point I am just going to have to learn how to fake this a little, or figure out what the hell is wrong with me and deal with it in some way. Because as sure as I am about my belief system, I’m not convinced that it’s actually working out all that well.

Vice Week is our seven-day exploration of all the indulgences that surely will ruin us sooner than we can imagine. But hey, what a way to go. You can check out all of our Vice Week coverage here.