Lucky Break


I may have broken my foot, but that’s not what was really keeping me down.

I broke my foot in gym one year because of envy. It was during a basketball practice on an outdoor court. I tried to make Jenny Jaimeson’s shoe come off her heel just as she directed a beautiful shot toward the basket. She jumped away too quickly, and I slipped off balance and fell on the concrete. Something snapped as I went down.

The bell rang, and Jenny disappeared to her next class. I limped to the office to call my mom. X-rays confirmed a broken foot. I learned in a painful, very embarrassing way that we can’t succeed by trying to hold others back.

I had been trying to hold Jenny back so I could somehow reach her level. Not only did she play basketball well, but she swam on the swim team and was good at jazz dance. She glowed. She sported the kind of complexion that is tan all year long. She was always flashing a fabulous smile. Everyone liked Jenny.

The next day I arrived at school with a cast and crutches, hoping to maneuver my way down the hall without being too noticeable. Jenny saw me at my locker and hurried over. If she had any idea how the accident happened, she never let on.

“Oh, wow. Are you okay? Can I carry your books?” she asked.

It was impossible for me not to like Jenny too. That was the maddening part. She was so likable.

I didn’t overcome my envy overnight, but six weeks hobbling around on crutches and trying to coordinate my wardrobe with plaster of paris helped me reflect—on Jenny and on me. She worked hard at what she liked to do and made the most of her talents. When I began to unearth my own talents, my life began to change. I practiced the cello because I loved playing. I showed up for track (once the cast was gone, of course), wrote poetry, and volunteered with a friend at the community hospital. I invited nonmember friends to Young Women.

I haven’t seen Jenny since we graduated, but I’m sure she’s accomplished great things. Envy, I’ve learned, is a way of giving up. It definitely keeps you down! Everyone has unique talents, challenges, and opportunities. We make our own happiness and success through effort and hard work.

Photography by Robert Casey; posed by model