Emotions

Green with Envy: A Look at Jealousy

Jealousy, at its core, is an ugly feeling. It’s anger and resentment wrapped up in unhappiness, a prickling and selfish, quietly seething rage. It ultimately makes us feel bad about ourselves because we want something someone else has, whether it’s success or a relationship or a skill. Yet, it’s also an extremely honest emotion.

Just look at the role jealousy plays in TV shows and movies. You’ve seen the plot so many times, in which a character tries to make someone jealous by pretending to date someone else. More often than not the person is too stubborn to admit their feelings and won’t realize how they truly feel until they see their friend in a relationship with someone else. It taps into the jealousy they didn’t expect to feel, forcing them to realize their true feelings. It’s a romantic trope but at the heart of it is the awareness that you can’t hide from jealousy, that you can try to pretend it’s not there, but deep down, it shows you how you really feel.

Being jealous can become a personal reflection. There are times when I’ve experienced a pang of jealousy seeing people reach major accomplishments such as graduating with a master’s degree or starting a new job. That particular sense of jealousy stems not from wishing to achieve their accomplishments, but rather that I’m not on a similar path to reaching my own career goals. It’s a combination of happiness for them tinged with disappointment in myself since it’s a reminder I haven’t experienced an academic achievement or had new career success in a while. It’s been years since I’ve felt the pride of receiving an academic award or being promoted, and I can’t help but miss it and hope to feel it again, especially when you take into account all the hard work that goes into such achievements. It’s true that you only hurt yourself when you compare yourself to others. Everyone has their own struggles and things they don’t like about themselves, but instead of wishing you have what they have, you can work on building your own strengths. Everyone deserves to feel good about themselves by sharing their joy with others when they accomplish their goals.

On the surface it can seem that others have certain aspects of their lives all figured out, whether it’s their jobs or their relationships, but obviously no one has everything figured out. Just as you may feel jealous of someone for being at a particular point in their lives you’d like to be, someone may be jealous of a goal you’ve accomplished or something you have that you may take for granted. That’s why it’s important to not dwell on jealousy but instead to genuinely be happy for others in all of their accomplishments, whether they’ve graduated or gotten engaged or got a new car. It’s important to remember how proud you felt when you achieved something exciting and shared it with others, how everyone congratulated you and was happy for you, that if you express happiness and excitement for others in the same way, it’ll make you feel good and not focus on jealous because everyone gets their chance to shine.

Looking deeper into why you feel jealous about something can help you grow as a person as you can use that feeling to push yourself to go after what you want. Don’t let jealousy weigh you down or make you feel bitter or resentful. Instead, use it as a springboard for self-improvement, a stepping stone to achieving a personal goal, an opportunity to take a chance on something new and see where it leads. Use it as motivation, as inspiration to push yourself. Plant it into the ground, nourish it and mold it into something new and see how you grow from it.

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