One of the most difficult things about making the transition from adolescence to adulthood is the realisation that in order to make the most of yourself, you have to surround yourself with people who are better than you at the things at which you want to succeed. Obviously this whole humility shebang is not easy. We all want to feel like we’re The Best, the Bees Knees, the Dog’s Bollocks; our egos crave it. And require it to a certain extent. And deep down, in the most maniacal depths of our delusions, perhaps we even believe it. But then, humility in general isn’t easy. Take it one step further – create a Frankenstein’s Monster by fusing limbs of humility onto a torso of resilient persistence – and you’ve set yourself up for a right bloody battle at the beastly hands of counter-intuition.
This is not an instance of others’ brilliance rubbing off on us as we smile benignly, watching the world meander past us like a balmy summer evening. No, it’s more insidious than that; it distills our innate alpha male/female lust for thrashing competitors, for quashing rivals, for exposing our own Achilles heel as we go for the jugular. Thus the easiest and fastest way to motivate ourselves towards our goals is to spur ourselves on with a daily acerbic reminder in human form. It tastes truly vile, and there is no spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down. But fear not: sugar will be dished out in arrears (and in spades) as soon as one’s game has been upped.
We admire those who excel at stuff which is irrelevant to us, but tend to envy those who excel in the particular skills or qualities on which we pride ourselves. Admiration is a sentiment worth harnessing… envy isn’t. Envy is another one of those grimly redundant appendix-esque emotions, such as nostalgia or regret, which are just a crummy fact of life. Like wasps, mosquitoes and mouth ulcers. If you successfully guzzle the admiration whilst choking the envy with a hard-as-nails gag reflex, then you and Frankenstein can trundle off together towards a beautiful sunset.