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******* Our 2nd Place Winner *******
TPS Writing Contest – Envy/The Brick Wall

Lottie Wathen

Today, we’re thrilled to feature our 2nd Place Winner from our recent writing contest – Lottie Wathen, an experienced family law paralegal, who hails from Indianapolis, Indiana. There’s nothing like a twinge of humor and the sharing of one’s candid thoughts to make a fabulous piece of writing, and a reader’s day.

It’s a fun one! Enjoy.



I expect that each person reading this has, at one time or another, experienced envy. Perhaps it was in high school when you longed to be a member of the popular crowd. Maybe it was as an adult wishing you had the car/boat/vacations of another. Or was it last week, at a professional event, where you coveted the position, respect or admiration that another person has? Dictionary.com defines envy as “a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/envy?s=t)

Being envious of someone else is normal. It is a fleeting emotion and often moves in and out of your mind/heart/soul so quickly that you may not even recognize that you briefly felt envious. Jealousy (a close, and not so innocuous relative of envy), on the other hand, brings with it feelings of resentment, suspicion, or fear and has been known to hang around, creating havoc and generally earning its description as the green-eyed monster.

Envy wears many colors and comes in many shapes or sizes. For me, there are six types of envy that flit in and out of my psyche.

Elevator envy. A common companion on those days when you have overslept, dashed in and out of the shower, jumped in the car with your hair still wet and un-styled, but thankful that your clothing is clean (except for the big splash of coffee that hit your blouse as you came to a screeching halt in interstate traffic). In spite of the marathon that your morning has been, you somehow manage to get on an empty elevator and breathe a sigh of relief that you are a mere 10 minutes late, only to have someone interrupt your solitude seconds before the doors have fully closed.

Inevitably, that someone will be riding all the way up with you, getting off one floor below you, so you have plenty of time to take in this person who is fully coiffed with perfectly applied makeup, wearing a stylish suit with coordinating jewelry and fashionable, yet comfy looking shoes, carrying a briefcase that is actually zipped, looking completely at ease. Mentally you compare yourself: wet hair (sort of like a dog that just wallowed in a mud puddle), no makeup (unless you count the little bit of toothpaste still clinging to the inner corner of your lips), one earring where it belongs, the other in your pocket since you have not yet had time to put it on, your normal uniform of pants with a top that looks okay (at least it DID when you glanced in the mirror at home), your nearly worn out shoes that suddenly look like something your mother would wear, clutching your open tote bag in an obnoxious color with some other company’s logo that you were excited to grab from the swag stash the legal administrator brought back to the office from his last meeting. Elevator envy – I know it well.

Car envy. Often experienced in the parking lot of the grocery store as you are trying to place two weeks’ worth of groceries into the back seat which is already full of jackets, sweaters, empty coat hangers, an assortment of papers, books you intended to read, the tennis shoes you put in the car so you could take a walk during your lunch hour, the jumper cables that you loaned last week to the teenager next door that are now in a jumbled mess on the floor, and the bag of stuff you bought from your niece’s fundraiser last winter. Enter the young, energetic athlete who parked next to you after you entered the store. He pops open his trunk while he is still more than halfway down the parking aisle allowing you to see inside where you instantly recognize that not only is his trunk neat, trash-free and recently vacuumed, it also organized with everything in its place and has a compartmentalized bin allowing him to place his four bags of groceries in a position where they will ride home in his shiny, clean car while remaining upright at all times. Hello car envy; go bother someone else. Car envy may also be experienced as office/cubicle envy – similar description using words like organized, tidy and clutter-free. Sigh.

Vocab envy. Fortunately, I do not experience vocab envy on a frequent basis, at least not when it comes to the written word. Occasionally however, vocab envy makes a personal appearance, typically right after I have uttered multiple ummms, errrrrs, and bbbbbuts, while answering a question posed by the boss, managing partner, or other esteemed superior on the office hierarchy. Vocab envy is the desire to be able to use words like “obsequious”, “capricious”, and any number of other “ous” words while speaking with the same ease with which we use words like “this” or “that”. Vocab envy is often chased away by reading the desktop thesaurus.

Confidence envy. We all know at least one person who breezes into the office always looking put together, stylish, oozing confidence in the way they walk, smile and nod. The confidence they feel is as apparent as it would be were the words, “I am good at what I do and I know it” tattooed across their forehead. This person typically may also cause you to feel respect envy making you wish you could be the one to whom everyone turns when they have questions about procedures, policies, forms, trial rules, software and wine (yes, respect envy extends to wine connoisseurs).

Many people might disagree with my belief that envy is an inoffensive emotion. In my mind, envy, unless you allow it to get the best of you, is motivation to do more, try more, or become more. It is like that bathing suit you buy knowing it does not fit, but hanging it in the bathroom so you see it every time you go in there as a tool to keep you on your diet or exercise plan. A quick google of “quotes on envy” reveals that I am not alone in my thoughts:

“Nothing sharpens sight like envy.” – Thomas Fuller

“Envy is a symptom of lack of appreciation of our own uniqueness and self-worth. Each of us has something to give that no one else has.” – Elizabeth O’Connor (and my favorite)

“Sympathy one receives for nothing, envy must be earned.” – Robert Lembke.

I intend to earn a little envy this week and must therefore go clean my car, plan my attire for the week, find the briefcase that I got so I could stop carrying the lime green tote bag, and get to bed early so I can stroll into the office on Monday with my head held high, makeup artfully applied, oozing confidence in spite of wearing my shoes that look like something my mother would wear (baby steps here people, baby steps).

Lottie Wathen is a paralegal at Cohen & Malad in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she handles predominantly family law cases. She sits on the board of the Indiana Paralegal Association and the Executive Council for the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Paralegal Committee as a Member-at-Large. She is a regular speaker and featured panelist at several local universities, in addition to running her local paralegal association’s newsletter and writing articles for various paralegal publications, including KNOW: The Magazine for Paralegals and Paralegal Today.


Great stuff, right? We thought so, too – hence her second place finish. I’m pretty darn sure we’ve each experienced every single one of these categories of envy featured in Lottie’s article, for better or worse. A big congratulations from us to Lottie Wathen!

We’ll see you soon, TPSers – with our FIRST PLACE WINNER!!! (You better believe it’s good.) Until then, keep it real. And don’t misplace that envy…