We don’t like to admit it, but many of us feel it. Jealousy towards our friends is something kept mum for fear of being seen as immature or irrational. But what happens when this begins to fester into bitterness that affects your friendship?
Can we have a frank, honest conversation here?
I confess: I have ever smiled and looked at a friend straight in the eye, while harbouring malicious thoughts. Now, before you decide to call me the worst, most insincere, most heartless friend ever, let’s all agree that jealousy is a totally natural emotion.
So, let’s call this friend Samantha, or ‘S’.
Ever since secondary school, I’ve always shared my desire to study and work overseas with S. Then, years later, when the opportunity to attain this dream finally came around (my entrance scores were good, my personal essay was smashing) I was held back by financial constraints- just as I was almost at the finish line. S, on the other hand, joyously texted how she got accepted into a prestigious university in Los Angeles, California.
This was when things started to get iffy.
At first, I was:
But a part of me on the inside was feeling:
Don’t get me wrong- I was still very happy for her. But there was a creeping tinge of bitterness that I couldn’t curb. And I remember how I felt so confused and guilty about it. When someone as close as a childhood friend gets the very thing that you so strongly desire, it does hurt.
When I thought I could get away suppressing my feelings and ignoring this incident, I was so wrong. A year later, I found out that S got an internship in the media industry during her summer vacation there (a way to vault you ahead of the competition in getting an entry-level job, and hence, an overseas work visa). Well, that didn’t help my feelings of jealousy to say the least. I started distancing myself from S, and it soured our friendship. In a weird, perverse way, it was as though she was stealing what was “rightfully mine” to claim.
In other words, I was becoming a jealous, bitter b____. It was a lose-lose situation!
Sure, things between the both of us now are much better after I decided to share my feelings; but some friendships don’t go down as well due to a lack of opening up and being honest with each other.
I think this boils down to not admitting such negativity because, 1) we’re always concerned about putting ourselves in the best light, and 2) we so tightly hold- no, claw– on to the expectation of needing to control our emotions. It can be embarrassing to admit jealousy, lest we get slapped on with labels of being irrational, immature or just downright cuckoo.
Honestly? I think it’s perfectly okay to feel this way. We should never be ashamed of our feelings. The question lies in what you do with them. Owning up that there’s an issue at hand is always the best way forward. And while you can’t stop your friend from achieving success in her life, here’s what you can do when faced with these negative thoughts:
Do not lash out on your friend.
Just because you’re feeling upset about her success, doesn’t mean that she did anything wrong! Acting out on your frustrations in the form of giving the cold shoulder or an icy response would not solve the root of the problem.
Be thankful for what you have.
Think of it this way: you may have something that your friend so strongly desires too. If we keep up the relentless search for things that we don’t have, will we find the time to pause and appreciate whatever little blessings are present in our lives?
Don’t compare your journey with someone else’s.
It’s easy to feel the urge to peg yourself against the success of someone else- especially if she is your age. But remember that we are on different life journeys that are unique and incomparable. It’s like comparing apples with oranges!
Take this as an opportunity to focus on yourself.
It could be that your jealousy is stemming from certain insecurities you’re feeling! Try learning a new skill or pick up a hobby, like pilates. Being good at something gives your self-confidence a boost, and snips away any inadequacies you feel.
Talk it out.
When you talk through a complex situation, it allows you to organise your thoughts and get to the bottom of why such feelings are present in the first place. Talk to someone you trust. If she is willing to be a good listener, you’d get a good, cathartic release of this negativity.
About the Author: Matthew Fam is a contributing writer of Material World, and has worked at Cosmopolitan Singapore as an intern and Contributing Beauty Assistant. He writes, teaches, and performs for the stage. Matthew enjoys museum visits, Singaporean Theatre, and spends too much of his undergraduate allowance on magazines.
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