There I was, waiting at the campaign office when the Secret Service came through the door, all dark suits and spiral-corded earpieces. The President was going to be in the office. I was not.
I stood outside the roped area to which I had been asked to move and waited for the motorcade to arrive. They lined up the cars, and the woman next to me said, “I saw his hand.” She held her baby daughter over her head and jokingly shouted, “Kiss my baby.” She was so excited.
But I, I was tired, and I was jealous. I had just spent all day interviewing people for the campaign and then working as very casual security at the President’s speech in Charlottesville, and still, here I was without a glimpse of the man I had been working for.
This woman next to me, though, she was excited. I wanted to be like her, and she made me smile.
It’s easy for me to get jealous – over the chance to meet the President, over someone else’s Twitter numbers, over another writer’s book publication. Jealousy is, I think, natural. But it feels pretty awful.
As a writer, I’ve worked really hard to put aside envy and competition. It’s taken some really concerted effort, but now, when I hear a friend has a book publication, I can shove aside that shade of green that slips into my vision and just be overjoyed with them. When someone I know gets a shiny, great review from a person they admire, i let their excitement tingle through me and push out the jealousy. We are all in this together; when someone succeeds, we all succeed. I truly believe that.
But sometimes it’s hard to feel it.
This morning, as I reflected on that stupendous day yesterday, a day when I heard a President I truly believe in speak to over 7,000 people, a day when I got to meet Sissy Spacek and tell her we had mutual friends, a day when I got to see the President go into an office where my friends were sitting, I chose to be thrilled with the experience. And to be gobsmacked with glee for my friends, one of whom got two hugs from him.
I also realized something important – there was a reason I did not meet President Obama yesterday. If I had, I would have been inclined to be more invested in his campaign than I already am. That would be a good thing in many ways, but it would also draw me away from my book, a project I deeply believe in, the thing to which I am called to do right now.
Sometimes, there are blessings in the things we miss out on. This is mine – time, and a farm, and a book about which I am so excited.
Besides, maybe President Obama will read my book and invite me up to the White House. I can dream, right?
How do you respond when you feel jealous? When others are jealous of you?