Your Friends Are Thriving. You? Not So Much. How To Deal.

"Timing is everything. If it's meant to happen, it will — at the right time and for the right reasons." — Unknown

What About Your Friends?

Y'all, if there's one thing I've got in my life, it's successful friends. For one thing, about 90 percent of them are doing exactly what they want to do in life. Secondly, around 65 percent of them are making a living without reporting to anyone but themselves. And three, around 40-50 percent of them are pretty well-known. Because of this winning combo, there are times when people will ask me if I ever have moments when I feel a tinge of jealousy.

To be honest, not really. I think a huge part of it is because none of my tribe really does what I do and vice versa. And so, it's kind of hard to feel envious when someone wins a GRAMMY (I don't professionally sing) or lands a six-figure government deal (like one of my friends who is retired from the military; I'm not in that field either).

At the same time, I do know what it's like to have moments when it feels like everyone else's world is moving swiftly along the highway of ambition while I'm kind of going the speed limit on the side streets — what it's like to be thrilled for my tribe while still wondering when my time will come. And since I highly doubt that this is something that only I have experienced in life, I wanted to share a few insights on how you can get through the season of when your homies are thriving, BIG TIME, while you? Eh, not so much.

Here’s the Difference Between Being Envious and Jealous


Before getting into how to stop quietly/internally feeling some type of way about your friends flourishing during the moments when it feels like you are somewhat at a standstill, if some self-introspection has revealed that you may have a green-eyed monster staring back at you whenever you look into the mirror and you're too ashamed to tell anyone and/or you're not sure what to do about it, you've come to the right place. However, in order to break free, let me first break down the difference between being envious and jealous; because, while they are closely related, they aren't exactly one in the same.

To envy someone is to have "a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, etc." The word that jumps out at me in this is "discontent" because that's all about being dissatisfied. A relationship coach by the name of Tony Gaskins once said, "To be content doesn't mean you don't desire more; it means you're thankful for what you have and are patient for what's to come."

He's exactly right. The reality is, everyone has peaks and valleys in life. No one always has everything going well for them; not everyone experiences trying times either. In short, life is a bit of a roller coaster. Oh, but if you can master how to truly be content — how to take things one moment at a time, how to be grateful for the goodness that is in your own life and how to accept that you are in your season for a reason and purpose, just like everyone else — it can quickly dissolve any feelings of envy that you may be experiencing. Because with contentment comes peace and when you're at peace with yourself…what is there to be envious of? Straight up.

To be jealous is to have a "feeling resentment because of another's success, advantage, etc." It's kind of interesting that envy catches more of a bad reputation than jealously does because I personally think that jealousy is way more problematic. While envy has you feeling dissatisfied, jealousy can have you out here being all resentful 'n stuff and that kind of head and heart space is rooted in grade A bitterness — the kind that can lead to petty, spiteful and even hateful behavior.

Aside from the fact that jealousy simply isn't a good look, if you feed too much energy into it, I'm pretty sure you can see how it can infect and potentially irrevocably damage your friendship(s). So, if this is what you've got going on, ask yourself what the root of it stems from, figure out where your insecurities lie and then start self-love journaling, so that you can heal those broken areas. Being a jealous person sucks — and can suck so much life out of you. When it comes to your friendships specifically, it can take over your psyche and make you a very difficult person to be around. Friends look for people to encourage and support them — not drain them by being low-key resentful and bitter all of the time. Remember that.

Do You Have a Habit of Comparing Yourself to Your Friends?


Several steps down from envy and jealousy is the act of comparison. You know, an author by the name of Shannon L. Adler once said, "Personality begins where comparison leaves off. Be unique. Be memorable. Be confident. Be proud." Iyanla Vanzant once said, "Comparing yourself to others is an act of violence against your authentic self." A principle of the Zen Shin Buddhism practice is, "A flower does not think of competing to the next flower; it just blooms."

What I like about all of these quotes is they're a blaring reminder that comparing ourselves to others is really a complete waste of time. It doesn't change the facts, plus it causes us to focus more on what others have going on instead of what we could be cultivating in our own world. While I get that making comparisons is totally human, if this is something that you have a habit of doing, there's no time like the present to start implementing steps to stop.

And just how the heck do you do that? I'll get more into this in the next point. However, a good starting point is to jot down a list of the things that are currently happening in your own life. What are your short- and long-term plans? What are some of the things that you've accomplished over the past several months? What are you particularly grateful for? It really can't be expressed enough that one of the worst things about comparing yourself to other people — especially your friends — is it robs you of time (time you can't ever get back) to blow up your own life in the best way possible. Now that you know this, don't waste another minute in such a senseless mindset. It's simply not worth it.

Are You Watering Your Own Yard?


Something that life is teaching me more and more is boredom is problematic AF. There are married couples that I work with who've done some pretty unhealthy things, simply because they were bored. My goddaughters get into trouble sometimes because they do mischievous things, simply because they are bored.

And oftentimes, when we feel like everyone else has it going on but us — yep, you guessed it, it's because we're bored. And when our own lives seem dull, interesting or like we are doing the same things over and over…and over again, of course, it's easier to think everyone else is winning; like their grass is just so much greener.

You know what the remedy for that is, right? You need to water your own yard instead of looking over everyone else's fence. Start by taking a long hard look at your life and honestly determining if you're doing what you want to be doing with it. If you are, what can you do to get you further down the path? If you're not, why do you keep procrastinating when it comes to living your life differently? I'll tell you what — while the moments happen less and less these days, whenever it does seem like everyone around me has a full plate and I'd like to be doing more, I use their accomplishments as a form of motivation. Because if those closest to me can soar in their own lanes, they are living proof that I can do the same.

Do Your Friends Support You As Much As You Support Them?


This particular point, while it might not apply en masse, I think some of you will get it. If you happen to be the friend who is the on-call cheerleader, who constantly uses your own gifts and talents to help other people and who is always celebrating your folks and yet, when it's your turn, it's hard to find those who are the same way towards you, it's time to have a serious chat with those who you consider to be your friends. The reason why is because, I'm telling you, the older that I get, the more I realize that what every relationship — whether it's personal or professional — should bring to the table is reciprocity.

When you've got friends who give as much as they take, that makes it so much easier to get through the moments in your life when you feel like they are thriving and you are doing anything but. That's because their proactiveness in your world helps you to not feel alone, it can play a significant role in boosting your self-confidence, and it can fuel you to stay the course in your own life until goals are met and success is reached.

In this life, some people keep you around because they know you're helping them to make things happen. If they're not willing to do the same thing for you, well…how good of friends are they? Real talk.

Sometimes It’s Your Time; Just Not Your Turn


Many, many years ago, I heard a local pastor here by the name of Bishop Joseph W. Walker III preach a message entitled, "It's Your Time; Not Your Turn." The example that he used was standing in a line to get something and while you're ever so close to receiving it, there are others in front of you who will get it first. As a direct result, while it is indeed your time, it's not yet your turn. Hmph. That reminds me a lot of Ecclesiastes 3 that talks about their being times and seasons.

Sis, what you've got to always keep in mind is just like your friends have unique purposes and capabilities, so do you. You will never be able to bring to this world what they can and they will never be able to be as unique and original as you are either. So, while it might seem as if they are advancing, prospering and thriving while you are, well, not so much, don't lose heart. So long as you're doing the best that you can and your friends have your back as much as you have theirs (sometimes, you need to give them a heads up on what you need; busy people are well, busy) — this season won't last forever. Your "thrive time" will show up, soon enough. And your friends will be right there…cheering you along.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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