How to be genuinely psyched (and totally not jealous) of your friend's success
I live with four very smart, very determined girls. They all have practical career paths and wear pencil skirts. Meanwhile I want to be a standup comedian, or a novelist, or write for TV sitcoms; basically anything with words and a lot of competition. While they write grants, I write…jokes. They get internships, and I take improv classes. They go on interviews, and I tape pictures of Amy Poehler to my wall and read my dog the latest version of my wolf novel. Needless to say, sometimes my life feels a little silly.
As girls, we’re raised to compete with the girls around us. That isn’t always a bad thing: Sometimes knowing that someone’s watching your every move is enough to make sure that your every move is moving you toward your goal and away from the couch. But when you have a less traditional goal in mind, or you’ve hit a rough patch and doors aren’t opening the way you thought they would if you worked hard and were nice to people, it’s easy to become jealous of your friend’s success. You’re happy for her, but you’d kinda secretly hoped that she’d stay struggling beside you so you’d have someone to commiserate with. It’s hard and it hurts, but you’re not alone in your envy or your guilt at that envy and it’s going to be OK. Here are some tips on how you can stop being jealous and start being joyous, because your time is coming and it won’t be nearly as sweet without friends around you to share in your success.
Stop comparing yourself to your friends
I know this might seems super obvious and every teen magazine has been telling you the same thing since the day you decided to cut your hair because your friend cut her hair. But that doesn’t make it any less true. Everyone has a different path, and actively reminding yourself that you’re not actually in competition with your friend can condition your brain over time to accept that you are in fact your own perfect person and you don’t have anything to prove. In the wise words of the goddess Amy Poehler, “Good for her, not for me.”
Celebrate their success with cake
Everyone loves cake. Cake is good, cake is delicious, cake is important. Cake can solve almost any problem and it makes a fantastic victory food. Make a pact with your friends that anytime one of you wins, you get cake. All of you. The success of one means cake for all.
Remember all the times you’ve won
Next time you’re feeling like loser, sit down a make a list of all the things you’ve accomplished. You won that spelling bee, you got that job, and you finished that twenty page paper even though you were dead tired and eating ice cream with a ladle. You’ve done stuff. Cool stuff. And you’ll do more cool stuff because you’re a cool person with goals and awesome skills. This is your friend’s time to win, and you should celebrate that because you’re proud of her and she deserves it.
Take your friend’s victory as a chance to learn a new skill
Whenever one of my friends kicks ass, I sit down and teach myself how to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but have been to intimidated to try. If she can do it, I can do it, and I use her triumph to fan the flames of my own success fire. Happiness and hard work are contagious, and if you’re around people who are constantly doing things, you’ll start doing things too.
Talk it out with someone else
Everyone, and I mean everyone, has been jealous before. Don’t bring it up to the successful friend because this is her time to shine and she really shouldn’t have to deal with your insecurities. Be happy for her, and then call another friend unconnected with the situation to have a good ol’ cry session. Sometimes you need a little time to feel sorry for yourself before you can reset and be totally, completely happy for the friend in question. Don’t wallow in it, but take the time to talk it through with someone who understands how you’re feeling and is willing to feed you chocolate.
Be her biggest fan
Instead of competing, make up your mind to be the proud mama. When you decide to be a cheerleader, coach, and teammate, you become invested in your friend’s success. There’s no room for jealousy when you’re there with her researching jobs and spellchecking papers. If you lift each other up before success happens, you won’t feel anything but pure glee when all the hard work pays off.
Make an appointment with a guidance counselor
This isn’t for crying, you’ve had that time. This is for figuring out your next move with a professional who knows how to help you get where you want to go. Write up some questions and go in prepared, and I promise you’ll leave with a new sense of purpose once you hear that you have options and you have assistance.
Read an inspirational memoir
As you’ve probably figured out, I really love Amy Poehler. I also really love Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Rachel Dratch, and Sarah Colonna, all of whom have written excellent books that make me want to stop whining and start writing. If you have a famous role model, they probably have a book. If they don’t have a book, someone like them has a book, and you should read it. Learn from greatness. Be motivated by people like you who didn’t give up, even when they were jealous and scared. You’ve got this. So hug your friend and head to the library because there’s work to be done and cake to be eaten.
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