Today as I was driving in the car with my friend I asked him, “Hey, have you ever had someone be jealous of you? Like, could you recognize it?” He shrugged and said, “I mean, yeah.” I asked him how he did this. I had always pushed that idea out of my mind; I never wanted to think or admit that someone could be jealous of me, because I thought that could lead to being detrimentally egotistical.
“For one thing, they copied me a lot. Well actually, everything I did, and it got to be really annoying.” As he said this, I was able to think about all the instances in my life when someone had done this. In middle school, I drew a lot, in addition to all the writing I did. I had a lot of frenemies back then (a very useful term, but I shall continue to refer to them as “friends” regardless of their actual intentions) who seemed to admire what I did so much that they wanted to try and take it up themselves. Although what I was doing wasn’t exactly innovative or fresh or outstandingly brilliant, it may have been different than what everyone else was up to, especially since I was an awful student and I wanted to spend my time doing other things than studying, unlike most of my friends. So maybe this is why people liked the idea of what I was doing. I started writing my second book in the sixth grade, determined to write something that was better than the hollow and lifeless story I had spun in the fifth grade, one that turned out to be a boring, yet surprisingly long, read.
I told a few of my friends, who seemed unimpressed, and who wanted to change the direction of the conversation completely. A couple of days later one of them came up to me to boast about how they too, had started writing a book, and how they already had this many pages and that many ideas for it. They, too, were extremely devoted to writing and they, too, wanted to become journalists (at that time I really wanted to be a journalist, but later on I discovered my love for the dismally seasoned subject of Economics). First, I was so angry, and I got even more angry when I recollected the times when they had done this before – with my comic-strip illustration phase (a hobby that I was bad at, and later discovered that a friend was better at), my Hannah Montana obsession (some girl started crying because I got a Hannah Montana backpack and I was “one step ahead” in the Who Likes Hannah Montana More competition – no exaggeration here), and so on. This was just another thing to add onto the list. Here, I was struggling to get my peers and my so-called friends to accept me, while at the same time they seemed to want to be doing everything I was doing.
“Alright, I get that,” I told my friend, as my mind traveled back from all the petty middle school angst. Later that day, I asked my mother about it, too.
“How can you even spot out jealousy without sounding self-absorbed?” I asked her. “I don’t want to keep telling myself that someone is jealous of me, or trying to debate on whether they are or not. So, how can I figure it out, and then how can I handle the situation?” “Have you ever told someone about something exciting that’s happening to you, and they kind of brush it off or minimize its meaning?” she asked me. “Also it’s completely impossible for them to be happy for you. They always seem to be there in your unhappy moments, when you’re feeling down, but when you have your shit together they seem to be out of the picture.” I laughed and pointed out someone who we both knew was like that, and it seemed to click.
I am always worried to tell this person about something cool happening for me, because I don’t want their response to be normative. Of course, you’re probably thinking WHY ARE YOU FRIENDS WITH THEM, THEN? but sometimes because of community or family connections, you have no other option than to be cordial, despite their back-handed compliments and their cynical attitude. It never really occurred to me that they may be jealous, I just thought that they stuck reality to me whenever I was happy, and I thought that was a good thing (it isn’t. Be around people who motivate you and praise you when needed – and vice versa). I mean, they didn’t even congratulate me when I told them my college plans – their response was, “Well, why aren’t you going there? Doing this?” That wasn’t the first time.
To tell you the truth, I don’t expect much from friendship; mainly just being happy for one another.
If there’s one thing I have figured out on my own, is that a lot of jealous people will pretend that good things aren’t happening for you. They will pretend they didn’t know about your achievements, and they will grit their teeth as they admit that they “heard about it” and as they congratulate you. Reluctant good wishes aren’t hard to spot out, and they aren’t made up in your head, especially when you’re doing your best not to think the worst of people. Another thing they try to do is convince themselves that you don’t deserve the good things happening for you, and that they deserve it more. That’s where a lot of jealousy smokes out from, and although it is perfectly human to be jealous of someone, it’s not cool to be menacing and ill-wishing. I have found myself holding back from telling people anything because of being afraid of bad energy (YES I believe in that) or lack of participation in expected mutual excitement. Friendship shouldn’t feel like that, I think. You shouldn’t be afraid of telling your friends about your accomplishments, and you shouldn’t be begrudging when you hear about theirs.
In regards to strangers or acquaintances that seem to be jealous of you, just ignore them, in all honesty. If you feel like someone is copying you, or wanting to do the things you already do, or overall wanting to “be” you (although you can’t technically own anything you do or like in life), please do your best to overcome feeling annoyed, and take it as a compliment. There is a lot of denial associated with one’s feelings of jealousy and envy, especially when it drives them to disliking you and not wanting to be around you, so pointing it out probably won’t help. Jealous strangers, luckily enough, will most likely take the first step in distancing themselves from you, and thus avoiding the whole SHOULD I FIGHT FOR MY FRIENDSHIP?! dilemma. Be thankful for that, and move on with your life, because no one does you better than you do. Don’t be worried about someone “stealing” your identity (which is kind of the first thing you feel when someone is copying you out of jealousy).
In order to thicken that line between self-absorption and self-awareness, I’d focus on building tolerance for people who act this way towards you. You don’t have to be their friend; in fact, you can distance yourself from that negativity completely! You also have to accept that whatever is happening for you, you are deserving of, no matter what anyone else thinks. Like I said, people will try to convince themselves that what ever is happening for you is an iniquitous decision on their side made by faith or destiny or whoever makes these decisions in life. Make sure you can pull yourself away from monotonous self-consciousness, and continue doing what you’re doing without condoning the “everyone wants to be me” attitude.
I am still figuring out an in-depth way to handle this without letting it get to my head, and even though it may sound contradictory (but I can blame my “growing up” on that; I am still figuring out a way to be diplomatic but also emotionally satisfied) – I think that it is normal to think that a particular person could be jealous of you. Just make sure that once you recognize it, you take the next step,whether that is discussing it, or ignoring it. Jealousy can be baleful and threatening, but if you view it in a positive light, it’s nothing short of admiration.