Is Jealousy Just The Byproduct Of Insecurity?
Fun fact you might not know about me: I’m a jealous person.
I know!!! Surprise!!
Not about everything. And not all the time. But I’m capable of feeling *very* jealous. And unless you’re one of my close friends there’s a good chance you didn’t know that about me, because I’m somewhat of an expert at concealing it.
I’m always surprised by my jealousy. It tends to throw me off because it seems to stand in direct contrast with the qualities I like about myself; my heart, my ability to make other people feel seen, the fact that I genuinely love celebrating other people’s achievements. It also doesn’t match up with any of the qualities I’m proud of: My values. My ability to set healthy boundaries at work and in my personal life. But all of those things co-exist with the capacity I have to get really jealous.
I had this realization the other day – and maybe you already knew this but I only pieced it together recently – that everything I’m jealous of is a manifestation of something I’m insecure about. The person I’m jealous of has something (a personality trait, physical feature, relationship, career trajectory, life-box ticked) that I wish I had. Last week my jealousy was triggered by an email a friend at work sent. The friend, let’s call her Lucy, is really good at writing emails. Which sounds weird so let me explain: I’m a people pleaser which means, by nature, I add way too much fluff to emails. I make every email more complicated than it needs to be. I’ve sent “x’s” to my (seventy-year-old male) accountant on more than nine different occasions when I’ve thought I’ve asked too many question. If I could sign off every email with a string of heart emoji’s I would. I live in constant fear that my tone will be misinterpreted as cold or blunt. Lucy is the opposite of this. She says what needs to be said and that’s it. Nothing else. She doesn’t embellish. She doesn’t preemptively apologize for things. She simply states the facts, asks for what she needs, and then signs off. She doesn’t care if her tone is misinterpreted because she’s evolved enough to know that if the person on the receiving end misinterprets her tone that’s their problem – not hers. Doesn’t that sound fucking liberating? So I felt jealous when I was copied into Lucy’s email to our client because it triggered my insecurity of being a people pleaser.
We all have parts of ourselves that we like to pretend don’t exist. My mum hates when I say that I’m “jealous” of something, because she thinks it’s unkind. She believes that when I use the word “jealous” it negates any space to be happy for that person, and it makes me sound bitter or resentful. But the truth is, on our worst days, when we’re jealous of someone, we’re not happy for them! We’re just jealous! And a little bitter. And a little resentful! They have the thing or the job or the boyfriend or the boundary that we want.
But maybe jealousy isn’t the only byproduct of insecurity or self-doubt. Maybe insecurity manifests as something different for everyone. As anger or self-sabotage, or introversion. How does insecurity play out in your life? And, if it’s jealousy, how do you cope with it when it arises? Where do you redirect it so that it doesn’t smudge the parts of yourself that you’re proud of?