I look over to my desk mate’s wristwatch as it glistened in the morning sunlight streaming in through the rain-stained glass casement windows, trying my best to cover my expression of scorn.
As he writes with his painfully obvious, expensive titanium ballpoint pen leisurely with the same hand wearing the seemingly priceless timepiece, the refracted sunrays from the crystal clear glass dome prickles my eyes, as if taunting me.
Luxurious Larry is the kind of rich who doesn’t hold back even the slightest bit. At every chance he gets, he’ll use subtle gestures or loaded words to remind those around him about his “superior wealth” over others.
I know Larry is just a spoilt brat, squandering all his pocket money on senseless material possessions that he won’t even use more than half a dozen times before chucking it somewhere in his endless pile of unwanted but extravagant trinkets.
However, in a 15-year-old’s immature mind, bursting with hot-blooded thoughts and ego, the stories I told myself just build up boiling-hot jealousy that makes my palms sweat, tongue dry, and upset.
The desire to have something we can’t have, especially when it reminds us of our inability to acquire other items in the past because of the limitations of material wealth (money or power), is something that haunts us all.
Jealousy hits those of us who have a low self-esteem more than people with a decent sense of self-worth or even the disregard of material wealth altogether (for instance, monks and those who write off their possessions).
For most, puberty is the stage where raging hormones paired with an immature (and foolish) mind are the cause of many negative emotions and thoughts. Which is why our teens can sometimes put us on a head start or set back, depending on our decisions.
Whenever I interact with Luxurious Larry on any given day, I would often go home with unreasonable demands to my parents that I want an exorbitant item I don’t need, but somehow dying to have.
Sometimes, I don’t act on my impulses, while other times, I do, usually not resulting in a… pleasant outcome. I would play out ridiculous scenarios in my head, concocting a myriad of incoherent excuses meant to disguise as reasons that will get me my way.
Racing heartbeat, flushing neck, and dry lips, I would try to tackle my father first since he’s generally easier to game compared to my always-suspecting and calculative mother.
No matter how much I planned, although soundness and strategy mostly questionable, the result is always the same – a metaphorical slap right on my cheek, sending me back to my room burning with resentment and adding more fuel to raging jealousy that fills up my every cell.
The figurative slap is more of a rude awakening to my reality, where getting any remotely pricey luxury piece is a pipedream until I can start earning an income of my own.
Desire is an immense force, so powerful and sometimes crushing that it can make people do things they wouldn’t if they were not consumed by their own dying need for the ever-elusive possession that occupies their minds day in and out.
Jealousy influences adults in ways that boggle us. People kill, snatch, harm, and hurt, among other sinister behaviour, all in the name of jealousy. Now take that influence and apply to a pubescent juvenile.
By most measures, jealousy is quite harmless because it’s usually a fleeting negative emotion and the average person would get on with life almost immediately after the affair. In rare cases where jealousy amplifies over time because of consistent exposure to the same very person that perpetuates it, matters might get ugly.
That’s probably why teenagers join hooligan gangs, commit crimes, and engage in violent behaviour – negative emotions have to channel somewhere to be released. Unfortunately, negative emotions frequently result in negative results.
It’s another sunny day and as usual, the bright morning sun blesses Larry’s wristwatch with refracted rays of blinding light as it pierces through my eyes into my brain, igniting jealousy at like a flip of the switch.
Luxurious Larry ups the ante today, though, as he flaunts a pair of gold-plated reading glasses studded with tiny diamonds, even though the prick has perfect eyesight. He glances over to me, raising his brows ever so slightly. He’s not looking at me, though, but at my worn plastic spectacles, twisted in a slight angle because of my rough handling.
I try my best not to meet eyes with him, because seeing my jealousy is exactly what the sadistic, filthy rich, obnoxious brat gets high on. Yet, the fiery curiosity and desire to look at the glittering piece of opulent luxury item are too strong to withstand.
As I stare blankly at his arrogant face while looking at his glasses in detail, I thought of the unkempt senior-year who pays for his mother’s hospital bills by helping a middle-aged man deliver packages after school.
After what seemed like forever, the school bell rings and I rush off to the senior-year’s classroom just two floors above. As our eyes met, both of us remember the offer he made me just a few months ago and I just nod my head to show that I know what I was getting myself into.
If jealousy is left unchecked, it can manifest in many ways that harm not just the person in green, but those around. Many problems in society arise from people not accepting the gaps between the have’s and have-not’s, taking matters into their own hands in the wrong manner.
The more rational ones would slog their hearts out to satisfy their desires using legal methods and without harming others. The unfortunate ones with the wrong ideas in their heads would find the shortest route, often fraught with danger and dire repercussions.
Fuelling the negative emotions into positive actions such as putting in hard work to achieve one’s goals is easier said than done, especially for the disadvantaged. But if we don’t even try, jealousy is the only emotion we’ll feel in our lives, before it takes over our mind and ruin any chances we have at building the life we so long for.
Disclaimer: The above narrative is a work of fiction. Any coincidences are not intentional.