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 jealous 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.