I’ve spent a huge portion of my life thus far suffocating my potential for love with envy. I remember being eleven years old, overweight, and wanting to be as thin as the girls I went to school with.
I remember creating arbitrary reasons to hate these girls because I wanted nothing more than to be like them. I can think of relationships with great potential that I corrupted because my partner occasionally paid attention to or praised another woman. I used to have moments in the recording studio or behind the camera that I got so upset with myself for not being able to create work that sounds or looks like the work of the performers and photographers I admire that I would just leave and not return to my art for weeks.
The weight of this jealousy and endless comparison became so grand by the time I was 18 that I would have almost daily panic attacks looking in the mirror. I would cry and think about how my life would have played out if I were her, or her, maybe him, just anyone else. I could hear my music, in it my voice that so many had called special, and all I felt was anger at myself for not producing the sounds that so many others before me could make. With each of these bouts of envy and anger, the love I longed to experience slipped further from my reach. I lost friends because I couldn’t get myself to feel comfortable around anyone anymore. I lost a boyfriend because I feared he would stray to someone better the moment I gave him a bit of wiggle room. Most significantly, however, I lost a piece of myself with every bit of emulation and self-loathing I practiced. The more I strived to be someone else, the harder it was to make use of the magnificent personality and capabilities I already possessed.
I really can’t say I remember the moment this crippling envy began to leave me. It could have been a combination of therapy, medication, and general introspection. It could just be that the hardening experiences of lost friendships and identity confusion began to sink in. Regardless of the catalyst, I remember those feelings of 'want' leaving me. After a lifetime of angst and coveting what those around me had, I suddenly felt a moment of quiet, and then a recognition of need. This need was to feel love for myself and those I had once envied. A need to accept myself for exactly the person I am, instead of contemplating what my life would be if I was anyone else. A need to just be Lydia. Without envy, without anger, without fear of being unique from all other people in my life.
When I let go of the envy that had plagued my mind and hindered my ability to maintain relationships, I began to feel what it really means to love. Not only did I start to love myself with the wholeheartedness I had only been able to dream of for years before, but I started to love the world with the same joy and excitement. Each crippled relationship, each hateful feeling I had towards those I did not know yet allowed myself to feel jealous of… it all dissipated to reveal a shimmering, stunning, joyful realm of adoration and respect.
When I stopped considering what my life could have been, when I stopped comparing my experiences to the experiences of people around me, I began to feel the greatness that my life can be. I am finally able to grasp the full extent of the love I can feel. I finally understand what it means to live a life that is uniquely mine and express love in a way that no other person ever could.