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How To Stop Envying Your Favorite Celeb's Life

Inspiration

"Jealousy is an ugly emotion, but it tells the truth. You mostly envy those who have what you desire."—Susan Cain

Whether you quietly or openly envy a certain celebrity, while that's not exactly a healthy thing (more on that in just a sec), it's also not totally your fault. The media makes billions of dollars off of promoting the lives of people who may be rich and famous but, at the end of the day, are still just people.

Why do I say that it's not a good idea to be jealous of famous folks (or anyone for that matter)? Well, let's explore what envy and jealousy does to our health, for starters. One study reveals that it decreases the quality of our mental health while another states that it heightens stress, anxiety, passive aggression, depression and even causes us to age at a faster rate. Then there's what it does to us spiritually. An author by the name of Harold G. Coffin once said that "Envy is the art of counting the other fellow's blessings instead of your own." It's like telling God that he loves someone else more than you.

Oh, and the damage that jealousy and envy can do to one's self-image? Don't get me started. Why a lot of us will go to great lengths and expense to look like someone else is beyond me (an interesting roundtable discussion with Black men and women on this very issue is the 50-minute video "The Pressure to Be Curvy").

Unfortunately, we are so inundated (some might even say berated) by celebrity culture that, when a lot of us hear, "Live your best life", we automatically insert someone else's face rather than our own into our mental picture and personal standards.

But really—what kind of sense would it make for me to talk about how counterproductive to envy a celeb if I'm not going to at least try and provide some tips on how to break the toxic habit? If you know that you are tired to opening up your laptop or smartphone and wishing that you had the life—including love life—of someone you don't even know, here's how to get on the road towards changing all of that.

Factor in Their Backstory

Harley Quinn Problem GIF by HBO Max Giphy

When it comes to this point, the first person who immediately comes to mind is the late and great Prince. Anyone who's watched Purple Rain before knows that it's a movie based, in part, on Prince's life; a life that was no cakewalk. Fantasia's story (Life Is Not a Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story), Tina Turner's past experiences in the classic What's Love Got to Do with It? and even the VH1 article "These Celebrities' Horrific Childhood Stories Will Make You Hug Your Parents Tightly" are all real-time examples of strength and triumph. They're also reminders that we shouldn't idolize anyone's life. For one thing, we only know a part of it. Plus, there are probably a ton of things that many of them would exchange all of the money and fame in the world to not have gone through if they could.

Remember Celebrities Only Post What They Want You to See

Definitely, one of my favorite Kev On Stage videos is when he was venting (or was it ranting?) about how much he hates the hashtag #relationshipgoals. He starts the video off by saying, "Not to be a jerk here guys, but I hate relationship goals. I hate the pictures. I hate the man leading the woman down to the beach. You don't know where they're going. He could be leading her down the path of destruction." Hilarious and indeed. He later says, "You know what real relationship goals are? Hand me some soap because I got in the shower and the soap was little and I couldn't get a good lather…I ran out of toilet tissue and 'cause I had more poop coming than I thought, can you grab it? And it smells awful in here and I shouldn't have had Chipotle, I know what Chipotle does." Kev's point?

The social media world is a mere fraction of what's really going on; some of it is not even as "real" as you think it is.

Listen, I used to do some social media branding for a few folks and when I tell you that their Instagram is very different than their real life? People would be floored if they knew what was really going on. Back in the day, folks had PR people who kind of "controlled" their image. Now there are filters, along with them deciding what part of their life they want to share or not. That's certainly their right, but as you're scrolling down their accounts, just know that the same kind of "editing" you're doing so that people will know more of the good than the not-so-good, celebs are putting 10 times more thought into what they are presenting on their IG and Twitter. (Well, at least most of them are.)

Ask Yourself If It’s Admiration or Jealousy That You’re Feeling

the real housewives of atlanta jealousy GIF by Bravo TV Giphy

Jealousy. It's so toxic and counterproductive. It reminds me of a quote that I once read by an author named Erica Jong—"Jealousy is all the fun you think they had." Preach.

Besides, jealousy is super unhealthy because there is research that points to the fact that it's rooted in low self-esteem and/or neuroticism and/or feelings of inadequacy. Not only does this mean that being jealous of someone is only making you feel worse about yourself, but the time that you're spending wishing you had someone—someone you probably don't even know and won't ever meet—else's life is the time that you could be working on developing your own gifts and talents, putting a life plan together and getting the relationship that you so deserve. Then you could start turning the jealousy that you're feeling into admiration. You could respect the accomplishments certain celebrities have made and use that as inspiration to do great things as well.

Not only that, but rap artist Lecrae once tweeted a great point about jealousy that all of us should keep close to heart; especially if your jealousy has you out here being a hater (or troller)—"Jealousy will have you gossiping about people you should be learning from."

Admiration is what fuels you. Jealousy is what drains you. Remember that.

Keep in Mind That Envy Is So Beneath You

The first step out of something that isn't serving you well is to admit that you are struggling in that particular area. Let's begin by tackling the difference between jealousy and envy. Some believe there is a clear distinction in the sense that if you're jealous, you're consumed with thinking that someone will take something (or one) that you already have while if you are envious, you're out here coveting what others have. Then there are those who think that envy is a more intense and destructive form of jealousy.

Personally, I think it's a little bit of Column A and a little bit of Column B. What I can promise you is if you don't get a hold of this green-eyed monster, in any form, it can start to take over your entire life. Next thing you know, you'll be out here being the living definition of the Mark Twain quote—"Man will do many things to get himself loved; he will do all things to get himself envied." In other words, since envied motivated you do/be/get more, you'll think that you need to be envied to stay motivated.

It's exhausting to be out here always wanting what someone else has and/or always trying to top the next guy; especially some guy who has no clue who you are. Those of us who grew up in church, we heard, at least a dozen times, that what God has for us is for us. Rather than spending/wasting hours each week looking at what celebrities have and envying them because of it, why not be grateful for what you have and figure out what else would complement your life and lifestyle instead? God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). He doesn't love you any more or less than anyone else. Trust that what he's got for you, he'll get to you. And what he has for someone else? The same points apply.

Know There Are Probably Things YOU Have That THEY Want

strength confidence GIF Giphy

I know someone who is constantly comparing her physicality with famous women. She's constantly talking about how much better her life would be if she had hair like so-and-so or a shape like such-and-such. I'm not gonna give y'all the exact thing that I said because…that's not important (wink), but the gist was, "The very women you wish you looked like are always getting left by some dude. Clearly looks are not what holds a relationship together."

At the end of the day, all of us are just people. Some of us have more money or are more well-known, but we're all fallible and battle with insecurities. Believe it or not, there's a huge chance that if you sat down with your favorite celebrity and compared notes, there is at least one thing in your possession that they wish they had too.

A philosopher by the name of Peter Deunov once said, "You are jealous because you are unaware that everything you need is inside you." To that, I say, don't sell yourself short. All of us have things that someone wishes that they did. Celebrities are not exempt from this point.

Focus on Your Purpose, Not Others’

Before I started mostly writing in the relationships lane, I was an entertainment writer. A lot of the people I met? I can honestly say that I wish I never had because who and what I built up in my mind was so much better than the real thing. Don't get it twisted. Being famous is not automatically synonymous with being happy, polite or self-fulfilled. Anyway, if there is one takeaway that I got from most it's that putting time into one's purpose will always pay off.

I might be in the minority when I say this, but I think one of the reasons why a lot of people are envious of celebrities is because they aren't aware of and/or fully invested in their purpose. The reason why they aren't is because they aren't clear on what exactly their own purpose is (check out "5 Signs You Are Living Your True Purpose" when you get a chance). If they were, I'm not sure how much room jealousy and envy could take up in their world.

There are some celebrities that I dig. No doubt about it. But I'll be honest with you—my life is so full that there isn't a lot of time to be out here wanting what they have (or what they appear to have). I'm trying to maintain my own.

Your purpose is just as relevant as the next man and woman. Honor this fact by choosing not to envy anyone. Including a celebrity. Your purpose, your life in general, deserves so much more than that. So do you.

Featured image by Giphy

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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