Be Jealous But Do Not Stay Jealous

My best friend is a guy that I’ve known for close to 35 years now.  We met when we were just 5 years old, and here we are about to both hit 40 this year.

He’s a great guy and probably the closest thing I will ever have to a brother.  We’ve shared a lot of happiness and a lot of not so happy times together.  Rarely have I been jealous of him, but I found myself jealous of him after a recent conversation.

We started talking about work, and he told me that he had someone contact him with serious interest about a job.  He wasn’t looking, but they found him on LinkedIn.  He told me that it was $25,000 more per year than he makes now, and then he told me what the total salary would be.  So, he basically told me what he was making now.

Both numbers are higher than what I currently make, and my first instinct was a pang of jealousy.  His current salary is about 10% more than what I make, which would put his new salary (if the job worked out) quite a bit higher.

After we got off the phone, I held the jealousy for a few minutes, and then as I started thinking about it, the jealousy started to fade, and within a few minutes, it was gone.

See, I realized a few things as I thought about them:

  • He’s worked hard – My buddy and I both did well in school throughout the years.  We both studied hard through high school, finished with honors.  We both attended college, and we both have Master’s degrees.  I know that his success is well deserved.
  • He’s sacrificed in order to get where he is – My friend has changed jobs a few times over the years, and the main reason he’s left almost every job is that he has had to travel quite extensively.  He would often travel 50-75% of the time.  He’s expressed sadness about missing chunks of times from his family.  As both of us each have two kids (his are 5 and 3, mine are 4 and 2), he knows that this time is precious.  I’ve never had to travel for my job.  His current job has actually given him a local presence, but it’s been a long road to find that.
  • He works more – While there are times that I have to work after hours, I’m pretty lucky in that I work 8-9 hours per day, 5 days a week. My friend has said that it’s not uncommon for him to work 2-3 hours per night after his kids go to sleep, in addition to the 8-9 hours he puts in.  His hourly rate, if you do the math, probably works out to slightly less, whereas I get more time to spend with my wife or on hobbies.
  • His potential opportunity is just that – The potential job that he has is no sure thing.  I don’t think he’s even had a face to face interview yet.  A lot could happen in the mean time.  They might not actually like him.  He might not like them.  They might tell him he has to to go back to traveling.  I could have been getting jealous over something that may never, in fact, come to pass.  Seems kind of silly, really.
  • It’s not worth being jealous – Above all, one thing that I’ve learned is that being mb-201403babyjealous just isn’t worth it.  You don’t get any further ahead being jealous, in fact all you do is get extra stress and less self-esteem.  I’ve learned that there’s always someone that is potentially worthy of your jealousy, whether it be money, relationships, family.  If you let it consume you, you’ll end up looking more at what others have than what you have.  And what you have shouldn’t be taken for granted.

In the end, I was able to let it go pretty easily.  He’s my friend.  I’m happy for him.  We’ve taken turns in our lives with various things that have come our way.  In other words, I’m pretty sure at various points, he’s been jealous of me for one reason or another.

Quite honestly, jealousy has never stood in the way of our friendship, because what usually ends up happening is that we realize that being happy for each other, supporting each other, and using the successes (and failures) as learning and motivational opportunities for each other has kept our friendship strong, and will continue to do so.

Long story short: Being jealous is OK.  Accept the feelings.  Process them.  Then, move on, because if you stay jealous, that will put your relationships, your self-esteem, and your happiness at risk.  And I’m pretty sure that whatever you might be jealous about, it’s not worth all that in the end.

16 thoughts on “Be Jealous But Do Not Stay Jealous”

  1. I have a similar situation at my job. I have two co-workers that have the same responsibilities I do – we’re both technical team leaders. We’ve all worked at the company about the same amount of time, Yet they have a “rank” higher than mine. I don’t know the numbers, but the assumption would be their salary is also higher than mine. Sometimes this burns me to no end…..but when I analyze my own situation only on its own merits (I love my job, I make a great salary) I always conclude that I have nothing to complain about.

    • Exactly the way to think about it. And as a side note, you never know on the salary. You have no idea how often I’ve encountered situations where salaries don’t tie directly to title.

  2. I cant relate. I have a friend since I was 5 (were are in our 30’s now). I went to private school and college and he graduated from high school. He went on to tech school to be a mechanic and now makes more than me. When I first realized this, I was jealous. But the feeling quickly passed and I was happy for him. Not everyone is cut out for college. I’m glad he found something he loves to do and is able to make a good salary out of it.

  3. I’m rarely jealous of friends, but I do get jealous of acquaintances from time to time. Generally, I’m just so excited for my friends and their success that I don’t let other feelings enter my mind. When they do, I ask myself why I would be upset for something good happening to someone I like. It’s never about the other person, I’ve found. It’s always insecurity from within that I’ve needed to resolve.

    • Exactly, most of the time when I get jealous I ask ‘Why not me?’ and when I’m honest with myself, the answer ends up not having anything to do with the person I’m jealous about, but instead comes back to me.

  4. It’s natural to feel jealous but yeah, staying there isn’t good. I realized a few years ago that it’s awesome when my friends succeed because I’d rather have friends who are doing well than not doing well. Having successful friends will only benefit me in the long run. They can open up opportunities or teach me things that I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

    Once I realized that, I cheer their successes as much as my own.

  5. I think it is normal to get jealous but staying jealous is not good. Just like our neighbor, I don’t know why they stay jealous with us even though we helped them before. They always making stories to my family to ruined our reputation.

  6. I agree, it’s ok to be jealous, process the feelings then let them go. It seems like you managed this really well. I rarely get jealous of friends, I’m usually just really excited for them.

    As for your friend, I’d rather the lower pay than travel and missing out on my family life I think. My ex husband missed large chunks of our kids lives because of work, actually it was his lack of time with the family that prompted me to blog.

  7. I totally agree, it’s not worth staying jealous. I actually have a long-time friend who makes an income – when combined with his wife’s – that is astounding. We went to the same high school, the same university, and started in similar caliber jobs. However, he got a few good breaks along the way and made the most of them. Then, he traveled extensively and worked incredibly hard.

    Anyway, long story short, he has risen to the highest levels and has earned it. I take his suggestions a bit more seriously now 🙂

  8. Jealousy is a natural and normal feeling from time to time. I sometimes get jealous of friends and family, but I don’t stay jealous for long. I just remember what makes each of us unique and cherish that part of a person or myself. I’m lucky to have terrific friends and family.

  9. It’s true jealousy can sneak up on you especially when you don’t have a firm grasp or awareness of what you actually have. I used to compare myself to others and fall into that trap.

    But, we all have worked to get to where we are and others success is just that their success.

  10. I guess it is alright to be jealous because in a way, you will know what you wanted based on what you see on other people. But it is not healthy to stay jealous because it will eventually create a negative effect on you.

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