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We all get jealous from time to time — what wakes the green-eyed monster for you?

Jealousy is something I think everyone experiences. I know that when I was younger, I didn’t like to go to people’s houses that were much nicer than mine. That was jealousy I guess, because I feared what they would think of my home if they came over. (We live in a very affluent area, and no new homes cost less than $1,000,000 and many more.)

Clothing has occasionally made me jealous: I see someone who’s obviously wearing (or always wears)  expensive clothes and I kind of look down at myself in my $20 slacks and $20 sweater (both bought on sale), and wonder what they think of my wardrobe.

In fact, by this point in my life (66), I realize that I have what I want, I have more than I need, and how each of us spends his or her money is a choice. Neither my husband nor I is pretentious, but we have traveled every year to England and Scotland (and a few other countries), partly because we want to see my husband’s family, and secondly because we have ties to St. Andrews, Scotland. That how we choose to spend our money.

Many years and many acquaintances have taught me that it’s often not jealousy that is the culprit, but insecurity and fear: fear of being judged, belittled, made to feel inferior, or ignored. I feared being judged by others because I didn’t dress well enough, wasn’t thin enough, my house wasn’t grand enough, or my kids didn’t dress as well as theirs. Jealousy can affect people no matter what their economic or social status is; many rich people want to get richer to feel more secure, more in control, and many of them take delight in showing off what they own. They probably feel more jealousy and competitiveness than I do.

I’ve learned to accept or reject people by how they treat me, and what we have in common. To assume that someone else is going to judge you because they’re rich and you’re not is (or they’re a PhD and you have a measly Bachelors degree), I have found, unfortunate. You could be depriving yourself of a friendship or getting to know someone interesting. People are just people, I’ve gained wisdom from all kinds of people, rich and poor, high school dropouts, and the well-educated. It’s a matter of being open and honest, and that we’re all in life together.