Is it true that the Grass is always greener on the other side?
The other day a former colleague contacted me telling me he was looking for a job. Considering it has been a long time since we communicated, I was instantly concerned thinking he had lost his good paying job for some reason. Having made that assumption, I opted to ask him what had happened to his job, to which he clarified that he was still working at the same place he'd been for some years now, but he was looking for greener pastures. At first I could not comprehend why he'd want to move away from such a lucrative job; until he explained it to me.
You see, this is a person with so much skills when it comes to networking, network security, VSAT and wireless stuff, CISCO, etc; in short, he is a guru in his own right. We used to work for the same ISP almost a decade ago and I can tell you the guy is good at his work. Then he got a better paying job and left the ISP to join the company he now wants to leave. The irony of it all is that he is not thinking of leaving because the pay has become small; he wants to leave because he has realized he is being under utilized. All he does now is maintenance for a few office computers, whereas previously he was used to managing massive LANS and WANS. He feels there is no room to sharpen his skills or learn new and challenging things like he used to before his move. Though he didn't say it, I get this feeling he regrets leaving his former job and would give it a second chance if he was asked to go back. I guess for him, the grass is no longer as green as it used to be before.
All the same, he is grateful that at least his paycheck has continued to grow over the years as his workload decreases. I am sure many people would swap places with him in a minute just because they'd like to get lots of money for doing very little; typically the most ideal place to be for many. However for him, he realizes that money is not everything if you just remain the same without progressing. A human being needs to keep refreshing his/her mind in order to be productive and creative; after all even some insects go through the process of renewing themselves, why not humans? Anyway, that’s a topic for another day.
This conversation I had with my former colleague reminded me of yet another conversation I had some time back with a certain journalist. She used to work for a very major media house but decided to quit in pursuit of greener pastures. To cut a long story short, in the span of 2 years, she has worked for 3 media houses and she is already looking for a forth employer because she is not happy where she is currently. Unlike with my former colleague, this journalist’s dissatisfaction stems from the fact that what she was promised when she left her former employer to join the current employer is not what she is getting in terms of remuneration and other perks. Worse still, unlike her previous employment, now she has to work longer hours under “harsh” conditions. To quote one of her tweets last week, “The grass always seems greener on the other side; until you realize it wasn’t grass but green paint!”.
Though I sympathize with both these cases, unfortunately there is nothing I can do for them right now. I believe they have learnt some hard-hitting lessons from the decisions they made and in future, I believe they will be more careful before they take certain steps. I believe theirs are not unique cases; you too may have fallen victim to the “green grass” in your neighbor’s compound - neighbor in this case being a figure of speech.
For instance, you are driving from home with your housewife who has asked for a lift to the family doctor’s office. Suddenly, right there on the left is this well endowed lady who just stepped out of this black BMW X6, waiting to cross the road so she can go into a certain building that’s on the left. You decide to become the perfect gentleman for those few minutes and give her way and obviously, as she is crossing the road, you are looking at her ample bosom as well as her well rounded “rear”; let’s just say she has an hour-glass kind of figure, encased in a perfectly fitting short black dress, with red stiletto heals and a matching bag to complete the picture. For those few seconds, you forget your wife is in the car and openly ogle at the woman crossing the road, almost forgetting to drive on after she is done crossing. Of course your wife notices all this but what can she say? She is just a housewife who can’t afford to buy the kind of wardrobe the lady in black had on her, unless she borrows money from you. As it is, you happen to be the “mkono birika” type of man.
This is just an imaginary picture I’m painting in your minds, but I can almost guarantee you it has happened to someone at one time or another. The question that runs through my mind is; did it occur to the “ogler” that if the lady in black had been shabbily dressed and not pleasing to the eye he might not have noticed her in the first place, hour-glass figure notwithstanding? The reason why she caught his attention is because she looked nice; in other words, the grass looked greener on the other side.
In my view, what this man was ignorant about, just like many other people out there, is that it takes time, resources, dedication and commitment to keep the grass green all the time. Like someone said, if you see the grass looking greener on the other side, try finding out how much their water bill amounts to every month. All the same, while obsessing about the green grass, be careful that what you thought is grass does not end up being some fake grass or even green paint!
So, to avoid being snared by the “grass is always greener on the other side” syndrome, why not make a decision to tend to your own grass and make it as green as you want it to be? If it is your wife, instead of ogling at other women on the streets, why not turn her into your own beauty queen that you can ogle at any time of day or night? If it is your neighbor’s house, why not work hard enough and get one that is even better than his? If it is a friend’s business, instead of envying him and getting jealous of his success while your business is failing, why not learn from him and put in as much energy, resources and commitment like he has in order to succeed? Feeling sorry for yourself and looking for ways to pull him down won’t change your position. Your pulling him down may change his position temporarily, but yours will still remain the same; unless you invest in making your grass green.
In conclusion, the next time you catch yourself thinking of how greener the grass is on the other side, think about all the work, resources and sacrifices that had to go into making it that green, then ask yourself whether you are ready to do the same in order for yours to be green (if not greener) too.
Wishing you all a colorful week!
PS: Article published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 21st July, 2013, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words"