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A close friend of mine recently landed an astronomical promotion at work and he shared the news with me, brimming with joy. I'm ashamed to say this but the first thing I felt was envy. We were the same age and started off at the same level a few years ago and here he was, making gigantic strides in his chosen field of work, and here I am having days where my insecurities become so overpowering that I feel like I'm choking.

I quickly recovered from whatever wave of envy had swept over me and told him how excited I was for him. I also said that I would definitely celebrate with him when he'd host our group of friends a customary party.

I chastised myself for being a bad friend and tried to shake off these feelings of inadequacy and told myself I'd be better off using this incident to just work harder on my own goals so I could 'compete' with my friend.

Envy is such a complicated emotion. One moment it flings you to the depths of despair whispering in your ears that you won't ever be good enough and subtly also tells you to try a little harder than you're currently trying.

I'm tired of using envy to fuel myself. It's a fuel that takes and gives in equal measure. It leaves you exhausted and broken not from having done too much but from having thought too deeply about things over which you have no control.

What do you know of someone else's struggles, their fears and their journeys that you think they have something that you wish for yourself while wondering what you lack?

Sometimes the price of growth is pain.

No, I think there is no growth without pain.

This is always how it works.

We're all alchemists - we're meant to transmute our pain and turn it into an elixir.

An elixir of hope, of resilience and most of all, of persistence.

Persistence moves mountains. And resistance is the grindstone upon which you grind your weary axe. There is no progress without friction and discomfort. The greater your unease, the more vibrant your results.

So smile.

It's not easy to watch your friends grind at a different place than yourself - watch them get steamrolled and emerge victorious while you are waiting for your own magnum opus.

Conversely, it's hard even when you're pulled to grow up sooner than your friends and you feel like no one understands what you're dealing with.

Go where the waterfall takes you.

Breathe.

It's not fun to live in an inert state replaying the past and dreaming of a future that is limited by your own imagination or to what your peers are doing. Instead consider moving, moving like the way the grass sways in the breeze, like ripples on a river and with the quiet rhythm of the clouds they speed away above us. Dance to it even if you're off beat sometimes. Pretty soon you'll find your drumbeat and everything you touch becomes a glorious symphony.

And once you do, you'll be able to appreciate other people's melodies too, because you'll finally be able to enjoy the music rather than being worried about whose trumpet sounds the loudest.

Big hug,

A

Author of 'How to be a Lighthouse'. I write for those pursuing excellence and meaning.

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