I’ve known my friend Heinrich for nearly 10 years now. We went to high school together and while it didn’t happen immediately, we’ve formed a strong bond.
We’ve been there for each other through difficult and joyful times – like birthdays, breakups, graduations and everything in between.
So when he failed a year of university and decided to take a gap year and start working, I was proud of him for taking some time off to realise what he really wanted. Even if it this meant he’d have to start his studies from scratch.
Eventually he decided to become a paramedic and he applied for a 4-year degree course. His application was successful and I could immediately see that this was exactly where he needed to be.
He enjoyed every single aspect of his course thoroughly and was always enthusiastic when he spoke about his classes. And when he started working shifts as part of his internship, I could see how happy the job made him.
While he was in the middle of his studies I graduated from mine and started working my first permanent job here at W24. This put us on uneven footing as he was a broke student and I had a full time job. It also meant that I’d often pay for things like movie tickets or drinks whenever we went out. But I was happy to do it.
About a month before his official graduation he got his first job. I was so proud of him and listened avidly while he told me all about its prospects. But then, to my surprise, I began to feel a little insecure.
You see, Heinrich now earns double what I do and has an amazing benefits package - and it’s his very first job!
I’ve been a permanent employee for four years and sometimes find it tricky to make ends meet. Currently I am struggling to find a place to rent in Cape Town within my price range and it's frustrating.
I hate to admit it, but I think I might just be a little envious. This is ridiculous because Heinrich studied hard to be where he is now and his job is dangerous and traumatic. He deserves to be paid that salary and to have all those great benefits.
And while I believe all these things there’s still a little (be it irrational) voice in the back of my head going “What about me? Why can’t I have nice things?”
And that is my problem.
I knew all along that journalists don’t earn loads. But the money was never why I decided to make words my source of income. Yet sometimes it stings a little to know that even though I’m working hard and feel like I’m contributing to society, I’m still never going to be able to make it rain.
And yes, I know there are people who are a lot less fortunate than I am. I know there are people being retrenched and I’m more than aware of those who are unemployed and struggling to find a job.
This makes me feel even worse about being jealous of my friend.
In case you’re wondering, Heinrich and I have talked about all of this. He knows that I think he’s absolutely deserving of everything coming his way and I couldn’t be more proud, but he also understands that my feelings of jealousy have nothing to do with him and everything to do with me.