Sharing the Spotlight, Part 2

I’m still trying to work through my jealousy over my husband’s success and ambitions. At least, I think it’s jealousy. At the end of part 1, I was talking about how I feel like I need to be the best at everything, so it could well be jealousy of his talent. Of course, I also continued right on into my value, so maybe it’s insecurity. Or maybe insecurity feeds jealousy.

I don’t need to be as good as my husband is at everything that he does. We don’t need to be the same. It’s ok for us to have different strengths and experiences. It really is ok for for people to be better than me at things. I am ok, even if I’m not the best. (This paragraph is an example of repeating things that I do not yet believe, but want to believe, in order to grow more comfortable with the ideas.)

Anyway, I’d like to go into another one of the assumptions that are making my experience with this problem more difficult.

2. It is beneficial and necessary to rank individuals according to their ability levels.
This is part of the problem  for me- the belief that it even matters how good people are at particular activities. It’s difficult to escape from this assumption, because in some cases, it really does matter what skill levels people have. If I am paying someone to create a sculpted fountain for me, I have grounds for evaluating the skills and performance of a wide range of artisans. But on a day to day basis, does it matter how good I am at field hockey? Does it affect me at all to be standing in line with a talented singer, a poor comedian, and a mediocre florist? No, it doesn’t.

So, it’s difficult for me to deal with this one, because it contains both truth and lies. I can’t just write it off entirely, but I also can’t blindly accept it either. How can I break free from the need to rank people in this manner? It was part of my childhood, in education, music, sports, and more. It was part of college as well, where GPAs determine what programs one can be a part of, what dorms one can live in, how much financial aid is available, and more. It has been part of my employment history, with performance reviews and the inevitable sizing up of coworkers in the same department. If it’s so ubiquitous, how can performance ranking possibly be unnecessary?

And yet… continuing to use ranking systems to measure people by their performance ignores the other aspects of a given situation. For example, are low performers dealing with life issues at the time (depression, death of a family member, insomnia, illness, fighting with their roommate, etc.)? Are high performers doing unhealthy things in order to maintain their performance (caffeine addiction, lack of sleep, withdrawing from relationships, pushing their bodies past the limit, etc.)? How hard are any of them working to achieve the results, and is it better to be a hard-working low achiever or a lazy high-achiever?

I’ll keep working at it. Things will start falling into place eventually.


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