One of my favourite US (wellness) bloggers, Karen CL Anderson wrote recently about the concepts of pity and envy. She asked her readers:
Would you rather be pitied or envied?
As Karen suggests… this should be a no-brainer. Surely we all want to be fabulous while those we grace with our presence bask in our gloriousness. Naturally we’d work hard not to be smug while others envy what we have—whether that be our clothes, body, partner, children, house, blog stats, career, or life in general.
And yet… (like Karen) instead I find myself prone to playing the victim and actually wanting to be pitied.
I’ve talked before about my victim-like mentality and it’s something which has become particularly concerning at the moment. I’m starting my freelance writing business and currently just include business-related info on my blog, rather than on a separate website. Which means that I’m giving out a business card which sends people here.
Which (for long term readers) explains my lack of navel-gazing and brutally honest blogging. I’ve written the occasional sarcastic self-deprecating post, but nothing which would reflect TOO badly upon me.
My need to share stuff reached boiling point in the last two weeks during which I’ve posted about how I’m really feeling. However… like I said, I’m conscious that local business people could be visiting and wondering why on earth they’d trust me with their website content or online writing.
I struggle with the same thing on Facebook. On one hand I want people to know what a struggle it is to find work. I want to tell them how incredibly poor I am and that I’m depressed I may never have a holiday ever again. But mostly I want them to pity me and feel bad that I went from a pre-seachange relatively senior job in government with a decent six figure salary to being unable to find even a low-level position post-seachange. I mean… people SHOULD feel bad for me (despite the fact this is all self-inflicted) shouldn’t they? (And yes I know all of that is irrational.)
Of course… what I’d expect from them after my Facebook oversharing isn’t something my warped mind has considered. My mother tells me when I was young I’d go to her with tales of my older brother’s misbehaviour. She’d respond with, “Oh he’s a naughty boy, isn’t he?” And I’d happily skip off back into the fray. I just needed acknowledgement it seems.
And yet… I don’t post depressing shit on Facebook (or here at the moment) because I don’t want to be seen as weak or pathetic. Or imperfect in any way. Because in the blue corner we’ve got our (seemingly) innate need to impress people and garner praise. We want to be envied.
I would LOVE people to be impressed by stuff I do—my writing or my work in my old life. I’d love them to envy my wardrobe or sense of style or level of fitness. I’d love them to think ‘well’ of me. And although I hate being that person, I occasionally find myself dropping past (perceived by me as more worthy?!) lives into the conversation. “Oh, well… when I was a diplomat….” #wanker #vomit
I know separating the business stuff from the blog stuff is an obvious practical solution to what I share here but I still wonder if pity is ever a feeling we should invoke in others. And if it is, can it co-exist with envy?
Can we be both pitied and envied?
Have you ever desired pity?
Is it sane to want to be both pitied and envied? Is it possible?
I’m linking up with Essentially Jess and her IBOT team today.