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Learning to Let Go of Jealousy

We are taught to be happy for everyone and not be jealous, but what we are not taught is that jealousy is a very valid emotion.



When I was in secondary school, one of my teachers mocked me for not being one of the best students in the class. I knew I wasn’t and that he was right but no one had ever said it to my face. Before he said that, I was friends with the top five best students in the class, but as soon as he mentioned it, I started to withdraw from them. I avoided following the same path with them when going home and only stayed with them during play hours. In the class, my desk was also far away from them. I soon found myself resenting them whenever they raised their hands to answer a question or got better grades at the end of assessments. Although it was triggered by what the teacher said, I realised that I had for long been jealous of my friends but I never acknowledged it. I made a vow that I was going to disappoint that teacher by graduating as one of the best students in the class. I did graduate with several awards. 

I have realised that I have the tendency of turning jealousy into motivation but not so often. Sometimes, I find myself asking why a particular thing that belongs to someone else doesn’t belong to me. It might be hard but we need to acknowledge that we feel jealous of other people’s success. For instance, in a circle, it will be very uncomfortable to watch others grow while you sit there, feeling stagnant. Although what you consider stagnant may be another person’s aspiration. That’s life; a cycle. What ends someone else’s success begins with another’s. You are never going to know how comfortable or glorious you are until you experience a tiny bit of discomfort that some people experience. As you are jealous of someone greater than you are, someone somewhere is also jealous of where you are.

In university, there were a couple of writers whom I believed were much better than I was. Every time they announced an acceptance from a literary magazine or journal, sadness lurked in. I told one of them one day that I was jealous of what they had and he said to me, “Don’t be. You might have more than what we have. It’s all about timing.” I didn’t know exactly what that meant, and I still don’t but I have become less jealous whenever they announce a win or milestone. I believe my time will come.

We are told of certain bad emotional feelings, jealousy and envy are part of them. We are taught to be happy for everyone and not be jealous, but what we are not taught is that jealousy is a very valid emotion. It is good to acknowledge that you are jealous and embrace this feeling. What matters the most is how you react to it and act on it. I was jealous of my friends because they got better grades but I didn’t allow the jealousy to wreck me. Rather, I worked on myself and became better, in my own lane.

While it’s true that jealousy can be a natural reaction to seeing others succeed, dwelling on those negative feelings won’t get you anywhere. Rather than be consumed by jealousy or envy to a point where you resent successful people, let their success be a source of inspiration for you, and motivate you to do better instead. Let your friends’ progress be a reminder of what’s possible and a motivation to work harder toward your own goals.

I acknowledge that this is easier said than done, and it’s important to recognise that everyone responds to jealousy differently. For some, it may be more productive to take a step back and focus on cultivating a sense of contentment with what they have. For others, harnessing that competitive drive can be a powerful tool for achieving success. Essentially, the key is to find a way to turn jealousy into a positive force in your life, rather than letting it hold you back. It can be difficult but you have to channel that energy into productive pursuits. One of the most interesting ways of living at peace is understanding that we are on different paths. No matter how similar our journeys are, what belongs to each of us is different.

I saw a tweet from Justin UG recently that resonates with my thoughts. The tweet reads: Please keep being peaceful. Try as much as possible to stay away from jealousy (it’s hard but try). Pray every day, be happy for people’s growth/wins and keep working on yourself.

A hard truth that may be difficult to accept is that you can’t stop good things from happening to people and you can’t force good news to happen to you too. Think about it.



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