Recently, one of my best friends articles went viral on Vice, another friend took a job with Sky news, and a third announced she was having a baby. I, on the other hand, got knocked back from a job waiting tables andddd couldn’t work out how to close the windows in my apartment (it’s freaking freezing) so I had to spend the week sitting at my laptop with a blanket around my shoulders eating baked beans straight out of the tin.
I could have gone down with a serious case of comparisonitis and sent myself tumbling into a shame spiral but instead I went into full blow cheerleader mode and and got as excited as humanly possible about their success. There were messages, champagne and – if I wasn’t so broke – there would have even been flowers.
My friends are wildly ambitious go-getters, if I was threatened or discouraged by others success, I would probably never make it out of my pyjamas. Thankfully, I’ve worked out a way to be genuinely happy for my soulies success and really freaking proud of their achievements without letting jealousy, fear or comparison get in the way.
My friendships used to be super competitive. It was never openly discussed, but there was always this underlying contention about who was currently ‘winning at life’. If one of us got a great mark on an assignment, landed a job offer or hooked up with a lifeguard, the others would immediately convene behind her back in a conversation that went something along the lines of, ‘Oh did you hear about so and so? Mmm…how exciting…I wonder how that happened…*insert undermining remark here*.’
It was fucking horrible. We didn’t know how to deal with our own insecurity and fear of not being good enough, so we lashed out in jealousy and bitterness. Not attractive.
But that’s what happens when you live with a scarcity mindset. Jealousy comes from the thought that there is not enough love, success and attention to go around. It’s the ego persuading us that we need to do what we can to preserve the love assigned to us, so we struggle and strive, thinking we have to step on other people to get where we want to go. It’s a limiting thought that inevitably leads to an experience of lack and inadequacy.
Now I live with the belief that there is more than enough to go around and when someone I love “makes it”, it increases my chances of making it because I know that the same potential that exists inside them, also exists inside me. They don’t have anything that I don’t have, our brilliance just just manifests in different ways – some have an incredible talent for writing, others were made to kill it in the corporate world. We all have the same capacity for greatness within us, the only difference is if and how we access it and bring it forth into the world.
When you are your authentic self, you have no competition.
When we write our own definition of what it means to be successful, we build our own first place pedestal and we get to decide when we’ve earned the right to be up there. Sometimes other people recognise our success, other times the internal victories are the most rewarding, either way, there is room for all of us on the podium.
Now, even when I’m at my lowest point (shivering at my laptop in baked-bean covered pyjamas), hearing about a friends success doesn’t cause me to lash out, it actually inspires me to step up.
There are a few different opinions on this topic, but in mind I have drawn a distinction between jealousy and envy and would argue that while jealousy is unproductive at best and destructive at worst, envy on the other hand actually motivates us to utilise our full potential. There’s nothing like seeing someone else get something you really want to awaken a hunger and desire within you to go and get it for yourself. It lights a fire in our hearts that inspires us to get shit done. The trick is to turn your dejection into drive by re-enforcing the belief that if they can do it, so can you.
The next time you feel a pang of jealousy, get your pom poms out and start cheering, secure in the knowledge that the more you celebrate others success, the greater your capacity to experience it in your own life. (And be grateful for the cosmic nudge, alerting you the deepest desires of your soul.) Your time will come, and when it does you will not only have the intrinsic pride of achieving with your integrity intact, you will also have a whole army of supporters in the stands ready to return the favour.
Our generation is forging a new path and as we make our mark on the world, we need to cheer each other on along the way. We’re not in competition with one another, we never were. When one of us makes it, we all make it and the sooner each of us uses the gifts we have been given to make a difference in the lives of those around us, the sooner we will live in a world we are proud to say that we created.