That line between jealousy and fear
I have a friend that has been with me since college. We are truly the closest of friends seeing each other through marriage, divorce, children, career changes and most importantly writing and editing! We are both aspiring writers, but in very different realms. She is truly a writer and I am probably more of a “blogger” - sad to say. But never the less, we are both trying to make it and have high hopes of having books published. For years we have both enjoyed writing as a hobby, but now we are both actively moving forward with it, experiencing more and more success each time we write. Up until this point, we have never been competitive because we write about very different things. But recently, she was hired to write a weekly blog.
She called me to tell me the good news and I was so happy for her because every new opportunity puts her one step closer to the long-term goal. Plus, being published and asked to write for someone else’s publication or website is amazing! But while we were talking, I started to feel this uneasy feeling in my gut. It felt like a combination between nausea and gas. TMI, I know, but you need to get the picture. For days, I thought about the feeling I had. I was agonizing because I had never felt it before and I initially convinced myself that it was jealousy. I had never been jealous or envious in a negative way towards a friend before, so this was very upsetting. So with guilt on top of my jealousy, my belly was a mess and my mind was racing. I felt like a horrible person.
What was I jealous of? Sure, she’s the best mom ever. And sure, she just came back from London with her husband on a business trip. And yes, she’s had three children but is skinny as hell. But I’ve been friends with her through all of that and never thought anything of it. Why am I suddenly sick over this? We are not even writing for the same publication.
Flash forward to the day her blog was launched. Everyone LOVED it, obviously! As soon as I saw the response from readers online, I realized what was going on. I was not jealous of her. I was scared. Scared that she would achieve her goals and gain all of the success that she deserves, but then what would happen to our friendship? She will travel the world on a fabulous book tour and eventually remember that life in New York affords her better opportunities. The next thing I know, she’s moving and I can’t keep up with her new life and fancy friends!
POOF – snap out of it! Is this story a bit embellished? Maybe. But this friend and I have experienced a few changes in the friendship department over the past few years so the fear is somewhat real. What we are used to is having very different lives, but always finding a common ground and supporting each other. Recently we’ve seen that, in friendship, people change and take different paths so the friendship sometimes dissolves or you find that there’s no longer common ground.
The reality is, I think some women do get jealous of their friends. Jealous of the single friend’s freedom, jealous of the married friend’s companionship, jealous of the friend with children, jealous of the friend without children, jealous of the mom that gets to stay home, jealous of the mom that gets to go to work, jealous of the friend that had the strength to get divorced, jealous of the friend that had the strength to work it out. I could go on and on, but the point is that we can all look at each other and, inside, maybe we are a little jealous of the successes that one has, but is it jealousy, or is it fear?
As we get older, life changes us. The once crazy girls that only had to worry about what bar offered discount drinks, now have to worry about money, careers, marriages, children, losses, successes; but most of all, each other. When you stop worrying about your friends and truly start being envious, then it is in fact best that you walk away. But when you question your feelings and think beyond the surface, a lot of times we realize that the struggles with our girlfriends stem from fear. When you are the one staying home with your new baby and your single friends are going out, you don’t want to feel left out. That’s just fear. Or when everyone else is having a play date because their children are around the same ages, but you’re the only one without a child, you do not want to be left out. That’s fear.
While all of these are common scenarios, do not lose true friends over it. Be the friend that takes your friends with you, but make sure they want to come along for the ride. And, whether it’s motherhood or a career change, be the supportive friend that realizes the different journeys that life takes us on and be open to being on that journey, rather than keeping your friend in the same place to make yourself feel safer. Most of the time, our success in anything that we do has a lot to do with who and what we surround ourselves with. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who love you enough to fear losing you and cut out those that truly only know jealousy. After all, jealousy is just insecurity and you can never compete with the kind of insecurity that runs so deep it makes a person wish for your failure so they can feel successful.