Warning: This post does not paint the author in positive light and deals with internal struggles of self-doubt, jealousy and high emotional levels. It may be triggering. If you currently like me, you will likely like me less by the end of it. That said, it’s as honest and raw as I’ve ever been on the internet and I think there is value and possibly growth in admitting to the ugly and dark inside us. I strive to be a positive, encouraging presence online, but I am a flawed human being who sometimes struggles. This is not my best foot forward. This is not how I would like to be remembered. But if it helps one person be better, and that person will hopefully be me, I won’t regret it.
It’s bad. I cried…. more than once and to the point of nearly sobbing. The feeling was so intense, I basically shut down for a night and seriously considered both emotional shopping and eating an entire loaf of bread to cope (and likely would have, had there been convenient bread).
We all have our personal issues, but this one isn’t one I’ve personally struggled with before (at least to any extreme), so looking for ways to process and deal, I searched the internet. Where I was very disappointed to find only advice for people dealing with jealousy issues in a relationship.
Professional/ personal jealousy is a very different green-eyed monster than romantic jealousy, and I don’t believe they are best processed or dealt with in the same way. So, looking for and experimenting with healthy ways to deal, I’m getting real vulnerable here in the hopes of helping others bounce back when they face it.
Admitting this on a platform where my peers are likely see it probably won’t win me any friends, and might even negatively affect some people’s opinions on me. I’m vague with details and names because this is no one’s fault or problem but mine. I am 100% responsible for my own feelings and hold no one else accountable in any way.
So why am I jealous?
Scroll to the next section if you just want advice
I was recently not chosen for something I sincerely wanted – a private event for influencers in the money space, put on by some people I really admire.
I fully recognize that I was in no way entitled to be picked for this opportunity, but looking at the group of people who were chosen, I couldn’t help but feel like I belonged there. I even (ugly incoming) thought I might be a better fit than some of the people who were invited.
I DO NOT believe I am better than anyone in the world, but as a matter of fit for this event, I feel like I was an obvious and qualified choice.
Which means that it’s likely that someone, or even multiple people, when narrowing down from the pool of candidates, saw my name on a list and said “not her.” And I’ll never know their reasons, if I did anything that excluded me, if someone there dislikes me, if its my personality or looks, I’ll just never know.
Why am I so certain that I was on their radar at all? I just am. Multiple people who were chosen were surprised when they found out I was not. Several people at another professional event said they assumed I’d be there.
I even, upon urging from a kind friend, reached out and pitched myself as an alternate for the event should someone not be able to attend. I’ve had a decent amount of luck in life from cold emailing and pitching, and believe that having the ovaries to ask for what you want is likely to yield far better results than hoping they come to you.
The person I emailed responded back with extreme kindness and offered both to put me on a wait list and consider me for a future event if they do it again. They were a total class act and those offers were supremely generous when I wasn’t owed anything at all.
But now, that obviously not having worked out, I look back on what originally felt like a confident, tenacious move, and it now feels like I lowered myself to begging for an invite and was rejected multiple times. It’s extremely likely that’s not true at all, that they didn’t take it as begging and simply no one dropped out, but that’s what it feels like. That’s what jealousy does, it amplifies feelings, destroys your self confidence and tries to draw you deeper and deeper into misery.
I was fine jealousy-wise until the event happened. Suddenly my entire instagram feed was filled with what felt like all of my friends and peers doing this thing I was excluded from. Waves of self-doubt, disappointment and something that must be related to heartbreak kept crashing over me.
It was less about the opportunity missed and more about feeling of rejection from an “authority figure.” Someone picked the whos who, the elite, the best, and I was none of those. Someone out there thinks I’m not good enough and what if they’re right? I couldn’t help comparing myself to each person attending. What do they have that I don’t?
And as comparison does, it stole every ounce of my contentment, joy and self worth.
So how do you bounce back from that? It’s a crappy, overwhelming feeling that I think no one wants to feel any longer than they have to. Here’s how I’m dealing. I hope they help you too.
How to Overcome Personal and Professional Jealousy
1: Don’t ignore your feelings
They are valid. YOUR FEELINGS are valid. If you try to push them down, they will come back up later. If you are in a private space like your home, go ahead and cry, be mad, scream (this actually helps a lot for frustration and will help your body relax) and let the tension expel itself.
Consider going for a walk. I hate exercise too but moving your body will help and it’s a clear, undisturbed time to think through things. Even if its negative thoughts, letting yourself hear them can help you release them.
If you’re in a space where it would cause negative effects to show your feelings, try to excuse yourself.
I hate to admit that in more than one professional setting, I have cried. This is not nearly the first time I have been rejected, fired, passed over or discounted. Some people can hold off showing their feelings, but mine escape through my eyes more often than not.
If you’re in a work setting and aren’t feeling in control, the bathroom is a good place to cry for a moment, take some deep breaths and splash some water on your face. Try to get through the day and then let yourself feel your emotions in a safe space.
2: Don’t spiral.
Do not allow yourself to spend hours, days or weeks in the “poor me” state of being or in a loop of re-living the situation over and over again in your head. “Hear” yourself as you think through all your feelings and then let them release. Do not keep “wiring yourself up” or drawing any anger up again. It’s not helpful or healthy. Do not let anyone else keep wiring you up either, but more on who to talk to in number 5.
It’s hard to be productive in this state of being, but after a few hours or at max a day, deciding to quit, or stop work for extended periods is self-sabotage. Taking your feelings out on other people is also not going to help you and will likely make you feel worse.
3: Recognize the facts
Once you’ve let yourself honestly feel your jealousy, you can start to fight the negative things you’ve said to yourself with facts that you also know to be true, even in your negative state. Here are some of mine from my situation.
- I am not entitled to be chosen for any opportunity.
- I can not know what they were looking for.
- No one else can decide who I am or if I am good enough.
- I am happy for my friends.
- I will get other opportunities.
- I am blessed and loved.
Repeat these like mantras in your brain and try to replace the jealous and angry feelings with the facts. You could also make a list of blessings and use those as your mantra to offset your mood.
4: Get some distance
I had to log out of my personal instagram. Seeing all the photos of my friends doing this amazing thing that I was excluded from, put simply, hurt.
Instagram is by far my favorite social media platform. I use it multiple times a day, and spend several (*cough, double digit) hours a week in it, according to my phone’s analytics. I honestly enjoy scrolling and seeing my friends, internet and otherwise, doing fun stuff. For me, it is mostly a positive environment and the accounts and subjects I follow are generally inspirational, filled with empowering messages and beautiful peeks into the world that I might otherwise not see.
I’ve never taken a social media break before. I support people who do, though the public announcements prior to them are often eye-roll inducing.
But I was obsessing. And because so many of the accounts I follow were at this event, I couldn’t escape it in my feed.
Out of habit, I continued to open instagram a ton, but being logged out put distance and a decision between me and the thing that was making me jealous. I kept deciding that no, it wasn’t good for me to look, so I didn’t log in.
The app will survive without me for a few days and the vast majority of people won’t ever notice I’ve left (like one person did, ha.)
If your jealousy comes from a person, try to avoid them for a little bit. Don’t be rude, but keep some distance emotionally and ideally physically from them for a day or two. Confrontation is not your friend. Jealousy is human, but no one else is accountable for your feelings.
If it’s a professional situation, say you were passed over for a promotion or feel slighted, once again emotionally distance yourself temporarily. Head down, do the work, but it’s fine withdraw slightly to process. It’s even fine to take a sick day if possible. You’ll come back better prepared to work and be a contributing team member. Jealousy wins if you let it spread to affect other relationships and areas of your life.
5: Be selective in who you confide in
Talking out your problems can be helpful… if you choose the right type of person to talk to. If you choose the wrong person, you could end up tarnishing your reputation, feeling worse or even making the situation and your problem bigger.
Who to talk to:
- A level-headed, trusted friend or family member who is not associated with your situation. (best friend, mom, trusted mentor)
This is someone who you know will genuinely listen to you talk through your pain and be a shoulder to cry on if needed. Expressing your feelings can help you process them.
- A trusted friend who is in your same situation ONLY If he or she will not exacerbate it.
I texted a friend who was also qualified, but not invited to the event. We exchanged a couple of texts and commisserated. We validated each other’s feelings and end up encouraging and sincerely complimenting each other on our strengths and accomplishments, without languishing on our woes. I think we both felt a little better after and it was nice to verbalize my feelings with someone who felt the same way and was in the same situation. I am also certain she will not mention our conversation to anyone or think badly of me for having feelings.
Who NOT to talk to:
- The person or people who “caused” the situation or issue
- Anyone associated with the situation who may spread around your feelings after the fact (the office friend who likes to gossip, your neighbor, etc.)
- Anyone who will judge you or make you feel worse
- Anyone who won’t understand the problem or your feelings
I love my boyfriend, but I’ve learned that he is not the person to talk to about most problems related to my weird little internet business. He doesn’t “get” its challenges because he doesn’t have any experience with them and they often don’t relate to things he does have knowledge on. He tries to listen but is more inclined to either try to fix it or convince me that I shouldn’t be upset, which infuriates me. He’s wonderful at offering advice for my traditional job and many other things. But explaining to him the feelings associated with this type of issue is similar to an elite gymnast trying to make me really “get” how it feels to compete on bars at the Olympics. It’s so niche, and unless you’ve experienced it yourself, it’s hard to relate.
6: Recognize that no one else can define you
No person, organization, or even job defines you.
Prior to my financial journey, when I was laid off from my newspaper job and went through five months of unemployment, I dealt with a lot of self doubt, insecurity and depression. With a mountain of debt over me from college, I couldn’t for the life of me find a job in my field, something many people face.
But it wasn’t just my job that was lost, it was a huge part of my 24-year-old identity. I defined myself by my job. I was proud of it and gained a sense of power and expertise. It made me feel special. When someone took that away, I didn’t feel special anymore.
It took me a while to figure out that I am not my job. Not then, not now. I am not defined by what I do. What I do is a fun fact about me, but I am far more than that.
I’m a friend, a daughter, a loved one, a child of God, a dog parent, a french fry enthusiast… and a hundred other things, all more important than how I make money.
So when my jealousy tried to get me to define myself, my business, my passions by an outside force that didn’t want me, I, after a day, was able to tell it to take a hike.
A group that doesn’t want me means nothing for me except that. It does not change my worth, my passions, my dreams.
Do not let anything define you but you.
7: Use it to fuel your fire/ creativity
Eventually you gotta bounce back. Whether that is with your business or passion, or with your job. You can’t stay down forever…. If you do, you might just be proving the naysayers right. (And personally, I love nothing more than proving someone wrong – especially if that someone is myself.)
Following my jealousy-fueled crying fest and a good night’s sleep, I decided to channel my energy into improving my business.
I watched a few expert videos on how to improve various facets of my work, edited a video and wrote this blog post… and I feel a lot better. Not just for getting out my feelings in black and white (but journaling or writing your feelings down is an excellent coping strategy), but for taking ownership of the jealousy, and telling it face on that it will not beat me or keep me down.
Jealousy may be a personal problem, but that also means you are the answer to it.
8: Give it time
A weeks-later follow up:
Feelings can be overwhelming in the moment and affect our abilities to reason and have perspective. I was lit when writing this post originally and I’m thankful that the people I confided in advised me to wait to publish it until I got some space. I have not edited the bulk of it because I do not want to re-write my raw feelings or pretend I’m more evolved or mature than I am or was.
While I was writing this post, I felt so hurt, outcast, angry and like EVERYONE I knew had been selected but me for this opportunity. A few days following, I obviously realized I was not the only one excluded and that everyone who did and didn’t go was able to move on with their lives and businesses, including myself.
Honestly, I feel silly now for how strong my feelings were in the moment. But it proves that time is the biggest helper when dealing with jealousy. As long as you don’t let yourself stew and re-live the situation constantly, it’s going to pass.
I actually think I might be better prepared for when this inevitably happens again. Learning to process disappointment, rejection and jealousy are good life skills that I will need to use again and I’ll probably be grateful to my past self (eventually) for being open about this as it will make it impossible for me to forget.
If you’re dealing with personal or professional jealousy, I hope this helped you in some way.