Circle of Envy

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As university students we may dislike our stringent life on a tight budget. We envy those with full-time jobs and extra cash, whom in turn may actually envy the freedom we have. What breaks this circle of envy is treasuring what we have at hand.

WORDS Benjamin Murray

We’ve all been there – at one time or another, looking across the table at our successfully employed friend, with their red wine poured from a bottle, feeling the green monster creep up on us as we sip our fruity white, cool and fresh from the ol’ goon sack. We can’t help but feel the emotion of resentment that is envy, the cause of unhappiness and the foundation of despair. Many of us are unhappy with our student life and are envious of people with full time jobs. Why is that the case?

Let’s look at food. To get through life at university, a student’s diet consists largely of mi-goreng noodles, spaghetti, beer, and questionable wine in a plastic cup (for those with class). This diet, though cost effective, equates to the nutritional value of almost nothing. It does, however, provide students with just enough energy to scrape through consecutive all-nighters for exams, then do nothing all day and party all night for the rest of semester.

The financial hardships of student life become increasingly evident when you have the urge to expand your culinary horizon. Quinoa anyone? Protein of any form? Unless you live at home, you become aware of how tight your budget can be. At times we are even forced to choose between food for the week and alcohol for a Wednesday night. It may not seem serious, but the fact is students lack a steady cash flow.

Three years (if you’re lucky) is more than enough time to make any student envious of a suit with cash. From the moment these students finish their last exam, they are no longer burdened by the part-time hour constraints or the minimum wage pay. More money can be made in a shorter amount of time, which after living on a shoestring budget for years is definitely something to look forward to. As such, students often find themselves envious of the freedom graduates have. ‘The grass is greener on the other side’ we all think – green and full of sweet, sweet cash. What gets you excited is not the potential monotony of full-time work, but the thought that life becomes that much easier when you have cash to burn.

The irony is that the longer you are out of university the more envious you will become of those still studying. Day in and day out, following routine and the daily repetition of tasks, people in the work force longingly reminisce about their university days. Student life has never been more appealing: no responsibilities and having all the time in the world and a carefree attitude. Working nine to five in stylishly tasteful corporate wear sounds enticing at first, but the novelty quickly wears off at the potential of spending years at the same desk.

As we university students we don’t realise what we have. Instead we compulsively spend every spare moment of the day refreshing Facebook and Instagraming cheese toasties. The saying ‘you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til its gone’ has never been more true. Graduates reminisce about the times when they were able to party, hang out with friends, play computer games, and if there was enough time left in the day, study. Plus part of the fun of university life is risk-taking, living each week on a feeble budget and seeing if you can survive.

The juxtaposition of these two lifestyles is an indication of the drastic transitions students make from study to work. Yet not all of these changes will go as planned. Don’t feel that the graduates of each year have something you don’t, because very soon enough you will be in their shoes. Avoid the circle of envy by living in the moment and focussing on what’s at hand. Eventually, this time of your life will become another piece of your memory.