How to Be Supportive (When You're Actually Full of Jealousy)
A couple months prior to graduating college, I was offered a part-time job with a nonprofit organization. Taking the job would have meant moving back in with my parents, but that didn’t matter if I was working for something I believed in. It was a choice I made and a choice I was happy with. Yet, I found myself unhappy when I saw friends and others around me getting higher paying jobs and quickly moving up in the workforce. I felt jealous when my fellow babes would get promoted and I was sitting there, deciding whether I should go get a haircut or fill up my gas tank (because affording both was out of the question).
Throughout that season of my life I worked as hard as I could, but still felt like I had come up short. It was uncomfortable when friends wanted to go out to fancy restaurants and I would jokingly say “What about Taco Bell?”—but die a little inside, because it wasn’t really a joke. I was so unsatisfied with the fact that I couldn’t afford what people close to me could. I wanted more than what I currently had—and I’m not the only one. According to Forbes, 45 percent of recent college graduates only stay in jobs for under two years at a time.
It’s difficult to stay positive when you’re working as hard as you can and everyone but you seems to be getting ahead. Our culture is driven by comparison; we see people on social media showcasing highlights and wins all the time. Once we see this, we instantly feel as though we’ve fallen behind. The wins of others become a reason for us to dislike our own lives.
We can get so caught up in comparison and jealousy that we forget something: the people we care about still need our support. When good things happen to our friends, they deserve to be celebrated. Here’s how to cheer for the people you love even when you’re feeling bad about your own trajectory.
1. Be honest with yourself
No good will come from you bottling up your emotions. Let yourself feel the reality of your situation. If you’re sad or angry that you haven’t found that perfect job, or you wish you made more money, feel that! Grab a bottle of wine and eat some ice cream. Mix your tears in there too. It’s OK. Being upset is OK. Staying stuck in the upset is not. Just remember you have the power to move forward with your best life, no matter what the circumstances are. Having an honest moment with yourself is one of the greatest forms of self-care that will allow you to be supportive to the babes in your life.
2. Ask questions
Your fellow babe got a promotion—this is a good thing! Ask them about it. Maybe you don’t have the energy to jump around screaming just yet, but this is a great way to start small. Being curious shows them you care, and that’s meaningful in and of itself. Talk to them about their new role: do they have a different team? What will their day-to-day look like? This is a great way to share the experience, together. Even though promotions can be exciting, they can also be stressful. Ask how you can be there for them during this crazy time.
3. Remember: Her success is not your failure
Just because someone got something you wanted doesn’t mean you have failed. Once I realized this truth, I became a much more supportive person to my girlfriends. This reminds us we are all doing the best we can. Just because she experienced a win does not mean you have lost. Celebrate her win. We’re all on the same team, and our wins are much sweeter when we have our babes by our side.
4. Be Honest with the people you love
It’s OK to tell your friends you’re struggling. It’s OK to tell your friends that your job sucks. They’’l understand; some of them have probably been there, too. And when your time comes, they’ll be there to celebrate you, too.
5. Remember the power that rests in women supporting each other
Women have been brought up with the idea that we need to compete with one another. Thankfully, we are realizing more and more how untrue that is. Maybe you haven’t gotten that promotion or job you wanted yet, but you are a fighter. You’re working towards something. Don’t waste your life being jealous of the people you care about, and instead celebrate that we are women conquering the world.
The greatest freedom I found in my life is when I was able to let go of jealousy. The relief you get when your first reaction can be excitement—instead of anger or sadness—when you hear good news from a friend is unexplainable. Women have been pitted against one another for far too long. We need to celebrate the fact that there are women out there moving up in the world, because every success we experience together is a win for all womankind.
Michaela Love works with Rethreaded Inc and is passionate about mental health. On a normal day you can find her watching The Office for the 47th time or rating a recently watched movie on the Letterboxd app.