A letter writer feels like a bad friend because they’re jealous of their BFF’s success.
Not at all, says our elder — it’s normal to feel that way, but it doesn’t have to rule you.
Me and my BFF have always wished that we could be able to learn guitar. That was two years ago. Last year, he was finally able to learn, but my parents still won’t let me. As his bff, I was happy for him. But a few days ago, we were casually texting each other and he mentioned that he “has never spent so much time on something before” and how he “is finally good at guitar” and on a high standard. I know I’m supposed to be happy for him, and I am, but at the same time, I feel really jealous. Halfway through the conversation, I got mad and said some hurtful stuff to him about some random other topic. I apologised after and he was cool with it, but I didn’t tell him it was because I was jealous. After I ended the conversation, I didn’t feel like talking to him and still don’t, because I’m afraid that I would say something mean to him again out of jealousy. What should I do? Am I a bad person? It’s not like I’m not happy for him, I am of course, but I can’t help but feel jealous.
I am sorry you might be perceiving yourself as a bad person. What you have described here is not a description of a bad person at all. It sounds more to me that you are so frustrated with the opportunity that afforded your friend to reach a level of success as a guitar player, and you wished it could have happened to you!
Jealousy does do nasty things to our minds and attitudes and causes us to lose perspective on what is available in our own lives. But since you are sensitive and aware of the negative effect it’s having on you, I believe you have already put yourself in a position to move past any recurring setbacks because of it.
I remember many times in my younger years when I looked to those around me and saw everything I didn’t have. I usually never had the money to buy the things they did, and my parents never thought any of that was important. But what was really important to me was how I felt about myself, and one of the ways I could feel good about myself was to have a chance at many of the same opportunities my friends did. I too, was jealous on many occasions.
What I learned as time went on is that jealousy was hurting me, and as a result I was judging others and carrying around a horrible attitude. I robbed myself of using my own strengths and resources to pursue a goal or a dream that was reachable to me. I had to learn to accept my own individuality, my own limitations, while recognizing new opportunities for growth when they came along.
I think what you felt about your friend is a very normal and natural reaction. When you catch yourself slipping into resentment or disappointment, make a mental note that if you don’t stop this feeling from becoming full blown, you’ll be hurting yourself unnecessarily.
Maybe, when the emotions subside, and you come to the realization that you don’t want to lose a friend because of your jealousy, you can ask your friend to teach you guitar, or help you be a part of his music world in whatever way is realistic.
Also, if you can reach a point when you are able to confront your jealousy head on, and decide you do not want to remain in its grip, you will be taking the first step towards getting rid of the damage that emotion can and will do.
You would well by discovering what your options are for pursuing a hobby, career, interest, etc. that is available to you; something that would allow your talents and skills to develop and grow within the limitations you have. Getting past the jealousy will free you up to get excited about your own opportunities. Sometimes we can’t tame our emotions and command them to do what we want them to do, but you are already mindful of the destructive power they hold.
I want to commend you for admitting that the walls you have put up between you and your friend has prevented you from enjoying the freedom of this friendship you once experienced. You can make a decision to encourage your friend and share in his success, even if your feelings aren’t cooperating. You can act in a nice way even though your emotions are in conflict. Being nice is a choice.
I trust that as you ponder the lasting effects of your actions, you will choose to respect your friend and share in his happiness regardless of what is lacking in your own life.
Letter #: 349420