My friends are incredible and I’m jealous as hell of their amazing lives. While there’s a fine line between motivating and soul-crippling envy, I’ve kept myself from crossing it by realizing what it is I’m coveting and using that knowledge to take my own life to the next level.
It makes me strive to be better. Most of the time my jealousy sprouts up, it’s not because I want to be better than my friends, laugh at them, or feel superior but because I want to prove that I deserve to be hanging out with people I consider to be a hell of a lot more successful than me. While I logically know I’m just as smart, funny, and capable as them, I use my occasional feelings of inadequacy to work towards becoming my best self.
It helps me focus on what I want to succeed in. If you let yourself examine your jealousy—as in, sit with it for a while and treat it as just as valid an emotion as anger or happiness—you tend to discover what it is that you’re truly pining for beneath all the superficial stuff. In my case, being as creative, fit, and politically engaged as my peers is something I work really hard for and wouldn’t have realized mattered to me if it wasn’t for being envious of my friends.
It makes me hold myself (and them) to a higher standard. Being jealous of my friends in a healthy and controlled manner means that I’m actually inspired by them. When they mess up—and I mean properly, not just like forgetting a dentist appointment—I hold them accountable for it because I know they can do better. It works the same for myself—I’m constantly checking in with myself to figure out if I’m doing my best.
It reminds me of my own worth. The people I surround myself with are intelligent, kind, funny, and determined to make something of their time and themselves. Instead of viewing that as massively overwhelming, I see it as really awesome! These people wouldn’t be my friends if I didn’t offer traits and qualities that matched up to their own amazingness. The occasional sting of jealousy reminds me that I’m friends with these people for a reason, and that reason is that I’m just as amazing as I think they are.
It helped me overcome my toxicity in female relationships. Women have been pitted against each other for so long and in such subliminal and demeaning ways that it’s basically second nature to most of us to be jealous of our friends. Learning to live with jealousy meant that there would be times I’d have to admit that I felt that way in the first places. While those conversations were embarrassing and were often met with a bit of confusion and shock, they also helped me realize how supportive my friends are and how all women should be less judgmental towards one another.
Jealousy made me take leaps I never would have before. Instead of letting my feelings of envy turn me into a sad, spiteful person, I did the opposite and used it to push myself out of my comfort zone and really make some big moves in my life. I take way bigger leaps now, and while it’s often terrifying, I know I’m living my best possible life because of it.
I have power over it because I refuse to let it ruin my relationships. That would be dumb and unhealthy, and I’m not about to sell myself or my friends short over such a silly, senseless emotion. I own my envy when it creeps up and I use it to my advantage instead of letting it destroy me and my friendships.
Lots of the time, I need that kick up the butt. I’m a severely depressed woman with PTSD and anxiety. If my mental illnesses had their own way, I’d spend all my life in bed, never showering, crying, and watching Netflix for days on end. Seeing my friends do super awesome things is sometimes the push I need to get out of bed and do my own work.
Being jealous means that there’s a part of me that truly wants to succeed. It’s so easy to get bogged down in real life and horrible news stories. It can lead to despondency and depression when I hear about all the ways my generation is screwed. But if my friends are out there doing their things and kicking butt, and it makes me want to as well. That’s a sign that I’m not willing to give up.
Jealousy taught me how much I love and value my friends’ success. I know it sounds backward but it’s genuinely true. After all, my jealousy is to do with my own crap, but the pride, joy, and happiness I feel about my friends’ accomplishments are entirely to do with how much I love them.
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