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Why Friend Envy Doesn't Have To Be The Downfall Of Your Friendships
What About Your Friends?

Why Friend Envy Doesn't Have To Be The Downfall Of Your Friendships

I'll never forget the day a good friend of mine I met at work finally got her acceptance letter from medical school. I was one of her biggest cheerleaders along the way, her “Oprah,” as she called me endearingly, her supportive cast, the person that nurtured her through her anxiety of facing the unknown of leveling up. In turn, she helped me, the sheepish girl in the cubicle next to her wearing all black and covered in cat hair, to embrace my inner badass along the way.


She exposed me to a new way of life, actually going into the world doing things that I wanted to do, wearing the clothes that I wanted to wear, and simply not giving a damn about how other people felt. I got to see that the present was a gift and I was dope in real life, not just the internet. She coached me from only feeling comfortable posting mirror pics to flexing in full-body pictures embracing every curve on my body, and knowing that I am a baddie. She encouraged me to go for opportunities I thought were way out of my league, like this one right here…being paid to share my thoughts with you.

So, you could imagine my confusion as I jumped and screamed "congratulations" on the other end of the phone upon hearing the news of her acceptance, like she just won a Grammy, and hung up in just about tears asking her, "What does this mean for me?"

At that moment, it just felt like she received her golden ticket out of the position that we hated, and I was just being left behind. The feeling wasn’t jealousy. I couldn't fathom treating her badly because she accomplished her goal, but I felt less than her and stuck in my circumstances.

I was envious.

I wanted that fearlessness that she had, that audacity to have faith in myself, that knowing that there was something bigger and better out there for me, and that drive to not stop until I got it regardless of my present circumstances. I wanted to be the main character in my story too.

But at that moment, as much as I loved, adored, and was inspired by her, I didn't want to be her, I simply wanted to become the kind of person that had the heart to live the life I wanted to live. She was merely just a teacher and a catalyst of change in my life that I will forever be grateful for, and as they say, "When the student is ready, the teacher appears."

It was her time to go and my time to put in the work to design my own life, and inspire others through my pursuit, just as she had done for me.

I say this to say, to a certain extent, it is very healthy to have friends that you are envious of, but jealousy is very unhealthy. Simply put:

Jealousy is when you treat someone badly because they have something that you want but feel you cannot obtain. For example, you want their success, to achieve what they have achieved, to have the type of relationships they have and/or a material object that they have, so you put them down to make yourself feel better.

Envy can be geared towards many different factors, tangible or intangible. However, envy can be described as admiring someone else's traits, accomplishments, and possessions externally and internally, letting this shed a light on areas of yourself and your life you are discontent with. It does not have to be mean-hearted or mean-spirited and can be a huge catalyst for positive change in your own life.

It's an opportunity to open up a dialogue with someone else to compliment them and to let them know they inspire you. This, in turn, can easily turn into an exchange of resources, strategies, and admiration because often, the person who is feeling envy has admirable qualities too.

Someone acting negatively on jealousy looks like:

  • Copying you without giving you credit. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but when it gets to the point, someone is emulating your whole vibe and work without recognizing you and treating you less than desirably at the same time.
  • Making everything a competition, constantly trying to one-up your thoughts, accomplishments, and skills both in your face and behind your back.
  • Talking maliciously behind your back, never bringing up their less-than-favorable feelings to you personally as an opportunity to grow and deepen your bond.
  • Not celebrating or praising you. It's very hard for them to applaud you when you have accomplished something big or small in a sincere way.

Acting negatively on envy looks like:

  • When you accomplish a goal that they also want to accomplish, they can't show up to support you because this magnifies their feelings of insecurity and inferiority. They won't say anything negative, but it is hard to see past their own perceived failure when they are winning at that moment.
  • They give you way too much too soon. Instead of letting a friendship evolve naturally over time, they want to grow extremely close. Their compliments are nonstop, with more of an undertone of superficiality instead of sincere observation.
  • They make it seem like everything comes to you easily because they idealize you or your gifts while thinking their abilities are inferior. This one is tricky. Think of the word "pretty privilege" and the thought that someone obtains desirable things because of the way they look. This doesn't take into account how much time, effort, and energy goes into their looks and the idea they bring more to the table than looks.
  • They can't stop putting themselves down when you try to uplift them. This one is very hard to spot because it comes off as complete self-depreciation at first. For example, you congratulate them on accomplishing a goal, and they point out how it's not equal to what you accomplished.

Feeling jealousy and envy is a normal part of life, but with maturity, we learn it's not wise to act on it or let those feelings fester. I realized a long time ago it's just right to mistreat someone else because I don't feel good about myself. Had I met my friend during my mean girl insecure era in high school, I would have ruined the whole relationship by highlighting our differences, covering them up as some type of relationship incompatibility, and looking down on her because she approached life differently than I had.

Through meeting women who are doing things that you consider to be extraordinary and befriending them in an organic and sincere way through gratitude and reciprocity, you both expose each other to ways to further develop and improve in your self-development. As the Bible says:

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." - Proverbs 27:17.

When operating in lower energy, it's easy to belittle and treat a person who has traits or possessions that you desire deep down inside but are too afraid or ashamed to admit. However, showing up as your highest self with enough vulnerability to say, "Girl, I love the way you are doing your thing," opens up a whole new world of potential and resources because nine times out of 10, that woman doesn't mind sharing a few tips and pointing you in the right direction.

I've learned that when those feelings of envy come up, I don't have to feel insecure…I just have to get really curious.

I'm secure in myself to know I can accomplish anything I put my mind and energy into, but I'm wise enough to know I do not always know how to go about it. This is where acting positively on feeling envious of someone else has improved my life drastically because I realized the only difference between envy and inspiration is the belief that someone has something that I do not, and I create the life I desire too. I've realized that is dead wrong, and most likely, the person I envy initially has very similar feelings of insecurity as me but did not let that feeling turn into a belief that stopped them from executing.

In essence, they don't let their insecurities stop them from going after what they want.

In turn, I have become the type of person I used to envy. I take action aligned action toward my goals, no matter how it looks to others, and I make my happiness my responsibility. I am no longer afraid to leverage my network to get to where I want to go faster. I left my hometown and am the first person in my household to live independently out of the state. I wear clothes that I feel beautiful and sexy in, I travel often, and I demand more out of life and myself.

This is all because my friend modeled this to me, and I started to believe I could actually achieve these things.

Friendships have so many ebbs and flow that you find yourself mentoring one season and being a mentee the next. The key is being able to sit in and on that discomfort of watching someone's harvest while you are still in your planting season with the faith that you will blossom and the knowledge that celebrating her wins brings more fertilization to your seeds.

The unshakeable belief in abundance is the key to making envy a constructive emotion.

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Featured image by Vladimir Vladimirov/Getty Images

 

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