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Handling Professional Jealousy
July 17, 2014 9:02 AM   Subscribe

I like my job, but have a friend who always seems to end up in my ideal employment situation. How can I get over being jealous and learn to be happy with what I do have?

A friend and I both recently graduated from the same master's program. During the program, we both applied to the same competitive internship, and she was selected for it. I ended up with a different internship that I grew to enjoy, but was still pretty disappointed in not being selected for the first one. Now that we've graduated, I'm working in a job I like, with good coworkers and decent pay. The only downsides are I have a very long commute, and not much time off. My friend was recently hired for a job with great benefits, high pay, and tons of time off. I don't think I would like the job itself that much, but I can't stop thinking about how perfect the location and schedule of that job would be for me. It's unlikely I could get a similar job, since they're very competitive, and my friend had an "in" with the hiring board.

I do like my job most of the time, and know it's silly to keep obsessing over this, but I can't stop myself from thinking about how great it would be to have the job my friend has, and also feeling frustrated that things always seem so easy for her. I remind myself of the good things about my job (and that I'm lucky to have a job at all), but I can't shake nagging feelings of jealousy. How can I make myself appreciate what I have and get over this?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
In terms of ethics or morality, the correct term for your conditions sounds like envy rather than jealousy (as you note in the tags). So you might find more online when researching dealing with envy.
posted by resurrexit at 9:11 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Most jobs/situations are a mix of good and shit I think. I guess it's all relative.. and this may well not help but I'd take a guess your in a small minority if you are happy in your job and work with decent people in the current climate. She may be a bit better off that you, you more than someone else etc. I personally try not to see life as a contest though am better at this in some areas of life than others.

Everyone has their stuff.. look closely and you'll see the cracks. But she's your friend so don't be wishing them on her.
posted by tanktop at 9:19 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I can't stop myself from thinking about how great it would be to have the job my friend has, and also feeling frustrated that things always seem so easy for her. I remind myself of the good things about my job (and that I'm lucky to have a job at all), but I can't shake nagging feelings of jealousy. How can I make myself appreciate what I have and get over this?

Redirect all your envy toward people who actually deserve it more - the silver-spoon, born-to-money brigade who have never chipped an expensive nail in their lives but still have the wherewithal to spend more on dunny paper than most of us spend on rent, food and bills.
posted by flabdablet at 9:32 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


I used to feel this quite strongly and read quite widely about it. But the only thing that really worked? Volunteering at a homeless shelter every week. The thought that the women and men I meet can be so brave and funny and wise while having nothing shakes me out of any dumb envy I may be experiencing. So yeah, take a look at how the other half live. Even better if you can get a regular dose of reality.
posted by teststrip at 9:39 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


If you want to lose the envy, lose your pridefulness.

Without realizing it, or it entering into conscious thought, I have used various things to feel "better than" others. Case in point, When I was sharing a house, I used to get a subtle surge of ego whenever my roommate came home in his beat-up '99 Pontiac Sunfire. I would briefly stare at my brand new, shiny car, and get a warm, fuzzy feeling of being better than him.

This worked fine until another roommate's friend started constantly coming by in his brand new BMW 7 series. He never even got out of his car, but I hated him, and I resented my roommate for always inviting him over.

I tried to rid myself of this irrational envy and jealousy, talked it out, laughed about it, prayed about it, to no end.

Until it was pointed out to me that by its very nature, my pride was fueling my envy.

This may not necessarily be your case, but if you use your job to feel better than (subtly or not) other people in your circle, it could be fueling your envy of your friend.

Also.. try not to compare people's outsides with your inside. A brief description of a job benefits is like someone's facebook feed, it's not an at all accurate picture of what is actually going on.
posted by Debaser626 at 9:41 AM on July 17 [8 favorites]


I don't think I would like the job itself that much, but I can't stop thinking about how perfect the location and schedule of that job would be for me.

This sentence jumps out at me -- it doesn't sound like you want her job. Instead, you wish your job had a shorter commute and more paid time off. Personally, I'd rather do a role I was excited about then get lots of paid time off. So I think you can first objectively evaluate whether or not you think that trade off is worth it, and whether or not you are envious of your friend because you would actually prefer her job.

If you wouldn't actually take her job, then I suspect what's really going on is the other part of what you said: "things always seem so easy for her". In that case, I think this might be a case of comparing other people's outsides to your insides. For all you know, this job was a second choice, or maybe she had to leave her last job because of an uncomfortable reason. Or maybe she makes huge sacrifices in her personal life to accommodate her professional life. Trying to feel compassion for your friend might help this feeling go away.
posted by tinymegalo at 9:43 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


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