notes for my daughter: on jealousy


Ok, it’s not snappy – but it’s surprisingly true.

There will be times when someone is inexplicably rude or mean or condescending, and you cannot figure out why. A girl at school who consistently picks on you; an older woman at work who does all she can to keep you down. “They’re just jealous“, people will tell you.

This never sat quite right with me. I get jealous – jealous of other people’s success, ideas, talent, wardrobe – but it never makes me unkind. Jealousy makes me sad and covetty (not a real word) and resentful, but it also makes me ambitious and brave, and I invariably end up working harder because of it. In other words, my jealousy is all about me, and my relationship with myself.

Bette Midler apparently said ‘the hardest part of success is finding somebody who’s happy for you’ , & I’ve begun to see her point. For every friend who is excited and thrilled for me (& there are many, and they are brilliant), there’s somebody who’s inexplicably mean, dismissive or unsubtly subversive. I was naive, and expected everyone to be as excited as I was by my recent good fortune. I’ve had to wise up.

People will blame jealousy, but I think we’ve all been in situations where we know that cannot be true. If jealousy is coveting thy neighbour’s goods, then this is something different; these people don’t want what you have, but they reallllly don’t want you to have it either. They dislike you for upsetting the status quo, for making different choices to them, and they appear to have no idea why (or even that) they feel that way.

I wasn’t looking to find advice in a Mindy Kaling (audio)book, but the words above made my my thoughts fall into place like jigsaw pieces. I listened to that essay three or four times on repeat, because it all made so much sense.

If you’re trying, then keep going, and shut out the voices that tell you can’t or you shouldn’t. It probably means you’re onto something good.
& if there comes a time when you find yourself on the other side, hoping to hold somebody in one place & keep everything the same, try to catch yourself, and look again. These feelings are a sign that you feel unfulfilled. Find a change you can make to move yourself upwards, too.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of this type of envy? What’s your take on the ‘they’re just jealous’ refrain?