Aka, How to Legitimately Enjoy Everyone Else’s Hawaii Photos Without Secretly Rolling Your Eyes
Pre- Spring Break, I wrote the following intro to my weekly email:
This is about the time I need to take a break from Instagram... because Hawaii. It's nice. I want to be there. I will not be. It will feel like ALL THE PEOPLE are there. My coping method will be putting down the phone and instead looking out the window. At the brown grass.
Ultimately, I didn’t include this, because it was too negative and petty. Also: it didn’t account for all the friends going to Disneyland! 😉
My husband commented, “Remember when people used to take trips, and it was so exciting to see their photos afterwards?”
Now, it seems, as we experience (via social media) all the beachy, good food-y, relaxing glory in real time, our response is more of an eye-rolling, “I get it. You’re having fun. [That place] is AMAZing.”
Even writing those words feels gross! Maybe it's just me for whom #thestruggleisreal... but, I don't think so.
Envy is oppressive to community as well as our enjoyment of life. Joshua Becker pointed out, "Joy is not a finite resource," and I'd like to live as it that is true!
I am ready to break free of my vacation envy & replace it with celebration & enjoyment. Who's with me?!
It should no longer surprise me that the secret to happiness/satisfaction (and staving off the opposite) seems almost always to come back to gratitude. Being thankful, giving thanks, acknowledging the good. It is much harder to hold on to my bitterness & envy when I'm celebrating the goodness, the highlights of my life.
I also love the idea of "extraordinary in my ordinary": it's not always about creating amazing moments (whether in Hawaii or in Hoboken), it's seeing the amazing in the everyday.
But even minus the commercial motivations, we can get wrapped up so easily in what we think it means to
My sister's family went to Hawaii a few years ago and it was a total bust! The jetlag was terrible for their needing-structure-and-routine child, the weather was only ok, and the whole thing was expensive & tiring. Every parent has had that moment when their child's happiest moment of their thousands-of-dollars-vacation is the 5¢ candies at the convenience store or something else inane.
I don't mean we should judge success by a 5-year-old's opinions, but we could more often ask, "Who are we doing this for?", "Why do we want to do this?" and reflect on whether the answers mean it is worth it.
The happy family may be clinging on for dear life and need this holiday to reconnect. The smiling bikini babe has perhaps spent her spare time in the hospital waiting room. I should not presume that a happy-looking vacay means anything; and it certainly shouldn't decrease my own happiness.
PLUS: if I want to play the justice/injustice game... I'm going to lose. Or, rather I should say that as a privileged, white, westerner, I have nothing to say about the "injustice" of my life.
On the same note as above, I have no ideawhat's going on in other people's finances. The money spent on the holiday could be a terrible idea, financially speaking. Or maybe it is totally viable for them, but would be supremely imprudent for me.
We're all pretty rich, let's be honest — (In Bangladesh, a woman would be deemed too rich to need help from our blanket-producing partner if she has... a refrigerator) — so to some degree, taking a holiday trip is a matter of where we are choosing to spend money. If you feel confident with where your dollars have gone (or are going), then you can go forward with confidence that you've made the best choice with what you have.
Preferably in person, in a relational conversation, when your friends/family/coworkers have returned. It is way, way more enjoyable to hear the pleasure in a friend's voice when they recount (with gratitude, let's hope) the adventures they've had. It is completely different to look into someone's eyes than scroll past their profile.
If, in the meantime, need be, just look away. Ignore the social media. Save it for a better, more relational time. No one will suffer your failure to 👍 or ❤️.
Anything helpful in there? I mean, I still don't want to watch my dad's 30 minute travel slideshow (Hi, Dad! Just kidding!) , but that's got nothing to do with envy... ;)
The Enneagram is super popular right now as a typology of nine interconnected personality types. I am familiar with the Enneagram and while it hasn’t been a particularly impactful tool for me personally, I value the depth of the insight and the common language it provides.
Similarly, Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies framework provides definition and a vernacular to what is already present in ourselves. For me, this one has resounded like a deafening gong in my ears & in my life!
Over the last year or so, I've made a conscious priority to read books written by — or written from the perspective of — people different than me. As a white, rich person (and I have a job, a bachelor's degree, a house, 2 cars, and 3 computers, so that sounds pretty rich to me; maybe not in the 1%, but high enough), I have a pretty limited perspective. Also, our culture is essentially designed for me to thrive, so it's easy to take that all for granted.
Books, both non-fiction and creative stories, have a way of landing you right in the viewpoint of an other, and I am so grateful for that gift; it's one of the best things about reading.
Conversations about money can be awkward, but having uncomfortable talks, at age appropriate times, will set up our children's essential, lifelong skill in handling money well. Allowance is a key tool to teaching these money management skills.
Money, along with politics and religion, is often considered impolite conversation to have outside of yourself & maybe (hopefully?) your spouse. How much do we spend on groceries, gas bill, or date nights? Is this car payment normal? We are often afraid, or at least reluctant, to compare any of these details… R. Paul Stevens said the proverbial fig leaf from the Garden of Eden has moved from our naked bodies to our bank accounts!
Add kids into these conversations, and there is an additional layer of hesitancy: kids can be notorious loud-mouths!