How do I get over my resentment?
July 25, 2010 7:22 AM   Subscribe

How do I get over my resentment of the girl who has everything--and has invaded this community I am so passionate about?

When I say "Everything" I mean:
1) She's stunning
2) She's charming
3) She comes from a well-off family who gives her anything she needs (new car, doesn't need a job, etc)
4) She's got terrific natural talent in our community
5) People love her off-the-bat and she gets a lot of attention from senior advisors (See #1, 2, 4)

Her commitment to the community extends only to her advancement in it, not to its spread. Close friends of hers admit though she is funny and charming she's immature, selfish, and lacks empathy because her exposure to life difficulties have been minimal. She remains terrifically well-liked and a Golden Girl.

This is me:
1) Not so very attractive
2) More socially awkward and dealing with mental health issues
3) Background of abuse, neglect, poverty
4) Must expend 200% of her effort to get 10% of the results
5) Hard work impresses few people and #1 and #2 don't help

I'm passionate about enlarging the community and helping the people within (have made a career of it). It gives me a great deal of personal satisfaction when I'm not being eaten away by resentment.

I have never hated someone so much for such petty reasons. I feel like though I have worked hard (many people in the community comment on how hard I work) but because I'm not pretty and talented and charming it doesn't matter. I try to tell myself that hard work is its own reward and perhaps going through what I have gone through will build character, but when I am seeing no progress, getting little support, and feel terribly behind it is difficult to not wish things were a bit easier for me or my efforts were appreciated. Apparently a sense of empathy doesn't seem to matter in the large scheme of things. I see her skim on by and earn loads of praise and help for what effort she does have to put in, and the unfairness of it all burns me.

I know this is all insecurity and jealousy. I know this will kill me. So how do I get over it? I try not of dwell on it and focus on my own work and happiness, but our community is small and she's inevitably popping up with another accomplishment. This sends me reeling back to square one.
posted by Hey nonny nonny mouse to Human Relations (44 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
New community?
posted by Meatbomb at 7:30 AM on July 25, 2010

I don't let these sorts eat away quite so much, but I occasionally identify an "arch-enemy"--someone who is competing for the same niche I am. Framing it that way adds a bit of humor to it, which helps. Making friends with these people can also help (though is initially painful).

Sometimes what works is focusing on how my skills are different from them. Is there any important dimension where you win the competition (that is only in your head)? It's a petty way to feel better, but it works sometimes.

Another option is to redefine your own goals to decrease the ego-threat of this girl. Is it really important that you be better than her in your community? Maybe you're just interested in your own enjoyment and self-actualization, so relative comparisons are unimportant. Can you redefine your role so that she is like a different species? You're interested in spreading interest to others, she's not. Why not focus your efforts in that role? Hope that helps. I know a little about what you're feeling. Jealousy is so painful.
posted by parkerjackson at 7:30 AM on July 25, 2010

Sorry you're feeling this way. Given your previous question, you might want to consider that your feelings towards this woman are less about her, and more about what's happening in your own internal world. Did you ever get around to seeking therapy, as several commenters have already suggested?
posted by embrangled at 7:37 AM on July 25, 2010

There are always going to be people in life who seem to be better than us for all kinds of reasons, and it is up to us to be the best we can be no matter what hand we are dealt in life. Comparing ourselves to others and feeling like we are coming up short is a depressing loop and as you say, causes enormous resentment. It is great that you are asking for help here, but what about asking for what you need in your career to avoid feeling like you are behind and under stress? It is not worth being a martyr and hoping others will praise you for over-working.

And an exercise that I have followed is to write down every day twenty times "I am worthy" and start trying to believe it. Sit with what comes up when you write these words and turn your attention away from this person and onto the person who needs real attention from you: you.
posted by honey-barbara at 7:38 AM on July 25, 2010

4) She's got terrific natural talent in our community

Rather than see her as an enemy, could you see her as an ally? Sure her reasons for being in the community may be superficial, but her charm and beauty may help the community as a whole by giving it more attention. If she's the star and has terrific natural talent, she's someone you could benefit from learning from.

You may never be her, but by the same token, she will never be you, so hard working and honestly passionate about the community and its betterment. Remember that as you move forward, have belief in yourself and the community you love and welcome anything or anyone that can help be shaped to help improve it.
posted by new brand day at 7:43 AM on July 25, 2010

I think that you will get a lot of great advice about how to handle this in a mature, healthy way, so I am going to say something not so mature.

I think it is natural to want or even crave attention and admiration, and be jealous of others who get it more than you do, especially when they don't seem to have done anything for it. I think that craving can even be good for society, when people do good deeds in order to get that attention. Not that that's why you're doing what you do, but, maybe you were brought up to be self-sacrificing? Maybe people praised you, or you derived a certain amount of self esteem from being able to sacrifice? And growing up in that situation, sacrifice and self-abnegation seem like the highest virtues, most deserving of praise.

So maybe the idea of having to schmooze to get recognition seems like a betrayal of principle. Could it be possible that you have resisted learning how to be charming on principle? Is it possible you resent her because she's using a tool that you could use, but don't on principle? I think that being charming is only a set of behaviors, and anyone can learn them. It might be worth it to give it a try, to start to learn them. You already have a great example in front of you, you can observe all of her behaviors and see how they work. Being charming is only a tool, like money. It's not a good or bad thing in and of itself, you can use it for whatever you want.
posted by Ashley801 at 7:43 AM on July 25, 2010 [14 favorites]

The biggest problem I see is that she is really the ying to your yang: The socially confident person who can get what she wants vs the quiet hard worker with no social skills. You say she is stunning and confident- maybe take 25% of your time you budget on working hard and carrying a chip on your shoulder about it and work on your personal appearance and social skills.

This is always hard to hear, but people will attract to someone who did half the job while smiling and being personable than the person who sat in the corner, doing the whole job, but scowling and being bitter about it because they didn't get a big enough gold star.

Don't hate her because you can't be her- learn from her and what works for her and put that to work for you. By the time you've accomplished that she will have probably fucked something up and fallen in other's opinions, or at the least, moved on.
posted by haplesschild at 7:43 AM on July 25, 2010 [9 favorites]

The happier one is in their own skin, the less the actions of others impact us. That is, it isn't about her, its about you. And believe me, I go through this with members of my own extended family (one side is in line to inherit quite ridiculous sums of money, guess when side of that line I'm on?). It has taken me quite some time and a mere 3500 mile buffer zone to get over it. But I sometimes regress when I see a 17 year old kid in my town driving by in a $75,000 Benz.

And it sometimes helps to keep in mind that even though she looks perfect, or nearly so, she's got her own big bag of issues as well.
posted by fenriq at 7:46 AM on July 25, 2010

In the first place, people like this may not be as popular as you think. If there really are character flaws there, you won't be the only person who's seeing through her.

Interestingly, the fact that she gets a lot of praise raises a yellow flag in my mind. She's probably very good at eliciting praise, through the use of charm techniques. This is fair enough - it amounts to earning the praise through effort, just not of the same kind of effort you're expending. So in a way, she has earned it.

But if she ever lets anyone down or disrespects them, it will be hard for her to do damage control because she won't have a track record of integrity. I say this not so that you can lie in wait for your enemy to get her comeuppance, because that never really happens and anyway you know it's not what you really want. I'm just pointing out that if she is a phony, she won't be able to fool all of the people all the time.

You do have a track record of integrity, so maybe you too could introduce charm techniques into your arsenal. It will work much better for you because these will just be an add-on to your already solid abilities - you won't rely on your charm more than you rely on your ability.

Envy is a waste of your energy and undoubted talents. If she's stunning and you envy that, become as stunning as you possibly can. In this day and age we all have enough information and resources to look great if we really want to. Maybe when Mother Nature handed out the looks, you were standing behind the door - I wouldn't know. But the next step is to learn to present yourself socially so that you have more polish and charisma and people want to look at you even if you have been whacked with the ugly stick a few times. If you think I'm kidding, think about your favourite actors and actresses. I bet the ones with the most star quality aren't all the prettiest ones. A Great Personality is real, not just damning with faint praise.

Finally, do not ever do or say anything that lets your envy for this woman show in any way whatsoever. I guarantee it will make you look like a weenie. Seriously it's the kiss of death, don't do it.
posted by tel3path at 7:52 AM on July 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

Make friends with her.

I am serious.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:54 AM on July 25, 2010 [19 favorites]

My cold blooded analysis as to where these feelings are coming from - and I've been there before - they stem from your own feelings of entitlement. You feel like the world owes it to you to be fair - that people should be born with the same level of money, intelligence, looks, and ease of obtaining what they want in life. That humans aren't weak and selfish and superficial, and that they should value what's truly important - hard work - which of course you possess and therefore deserve their adulation.

Well. The world isn't a moral place. You may as well rail at the sky for being blue.

Here's a truth I learned that helped - your hardest struggle is just your hardest struggle. People everywhere struggle, from someone earning $200,000 a year, to someone foraging for a living in Africa. In the very wide spectrum of human experience, it's overwhelmingly likely that there a untold millions of people both worse off than you and better than you: but humans are shortsighted, and are consumed with comparing themselves with their peers when it only makes themselves unhappier. Happiness is not how much you have, but your attitude towards life.

I used to burn with jealousy against people who were healthy. People who could wake up in the morning and feel fine and ready to face the day. People who could lead lives free of pain. Most people who are healthy don't even think of it at all - that's just how life has always been for them. That girl you're thinking about probably has no idea of what she has either.

For me what worked was a big change in my world-view / values, and essentially an escape from a toxic situation, a fresh start somewhere else. I may be colder on the inside, but people see me as being warmer because I'm a much happier person to be around. Because I see the world as not being moral, I have no obligation to be moral either: but instead I am moral by choice. The feeling of freedom this provides is life-altering: when you're forced to work alongside an unpleasant person, you're doing so not because you're obliged to and forced into it, but because you chose to - because the benefits outweigh the costs for now.

As I mentioned, it's not what we have that determines our moods, but our perception of them.
posted by xdvesper at 8:04 AM on July 25, 2010 [56 favorites]

Don't compare your insides to other people's outsides.

(I struggle with this too and found the above quote a very useful reminder.)
posted by metaseeker at 8:07 AM on July 25, 2010 [14 favorites]

Just want to underline that envy is the anti-charm. Seriously. So address it not just for your own health, but for your effectiveness towards your goals.

Also, the poor and homely can still be blindingly charming, hon. Then you'll deal with the flip side of the problem: envy and resentment from those who are indignant that a poor and homely person is getting so much more attention/opportunity. ;) So don't set up false disqualifiers for yourself, on the road to better self-esteem and greater fabulousness.
posted by availablelight at 8:12 AM on July 25, 2010 [3 favorites]

Make friends with her.

I completely agree. I've encountered people like this a few times, with the same gut reaction to their "perfection" (which it isn't, trust me, she's got her own demons. We all do.) Talk to her. See what you have in common. Get to know the real person who she is, rather than the mental construct you have created around her and are confusing for her. In my experience, I've noticed that these very rich, very perfect people tend to also be very nice, friendly and helpful. If she's not? Fuck it. You'll find some other way to deal. But the best way is to make a new friend.

Meanwhile, this is going to sound harsh, but you're going to spend your entire life being one-upped by people smarter, more charming, prettier, etc. etc. Resenting each one for being "better" than you is probably the worst way to deal with your feelings of inadequacy, which, meanwhile, are exactly that: feelings. You're not inadequate just because someone is better than you at something.
posted by griphus at 8:16 AM on July 25, 2010 [8 favorites]

"the girl who has everything" rarely does.

Seriously. From the outside she's perfect. Inside? She's more likely to have an eating disorder, to have self esteem issues and to go dateless on Saturday nights. It's not a universal truth, but I've known so many of these women only to find out how horribly vulnerable and scarred they are from their perceived perfection. Don't believe the packaging.
posted by FlamingBore at 8:28 AM on July 25, 2010 [3 favorites]

Time. People like this inevitably lose interest and move on. People like you who care stick around for the long run. This gal will reach some level of achievement that she seeks and will move on to the next "challenge". Wait her out knowing it will happen. While you are waiting, make friends with her as others point out.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:30 AM on July 25, 2010

I know how you feel, I really do, because I also come from a background with poverty and have burned with envy at those who saw a trip on an airplane as an inconvenience rather than a luxury, but I like what xdvesper said. Right now, there is someone out there in the world who desperately wants something you have -- it may be something you're not thinking about at all -- food, a roof over your head, good health, the ability to vote, your perseverance. Life is not fair - in both directions. Bad things happened to you, but surely so did many good ones. Did you really do something more deserving than people who were born into disease, dictatorship, or starvation?

I'm really not trying to sound trite or lecture you, because I really do know how you feel, but I have found that stepping outside myself, looking at the very, very big picture, and being grateful for the good things I have does help. Perspective is not everything, but it is a big part of happiness.

Also, have faith that things will get better for you.
posted by unannihilated at 8:32 AM on July 25, 2010 [3 favorites]

There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better for worse as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.

posted by sockpup at 8:44 AM on July 25, 2010 [14 favorites]

There will be one or more of these people in any community you are in. This may be a good time for you to get your first taste and learn how to deal. Honestly, you'll just need to keep working hard to do a good job and to show that you are also worthy. It is also very likely that you're underestimating her talent, and overestimating hers. Another thing to remember is people like her usually move on to the next thing once people get bored of their charm and looks and they aren't the special new girl anymore.
posted by ishotjr at 8:50 AM on July 25, 2010

I really want to know what "community" is defined as. Is this a group of friends? A neighborhood group? A Meetup group? This has a big impact on the advice people can give.

Beyond that, life isn't fair. Sorry, it is scientifically proven that attractive people with glowing personalities get further in in life.

So stop trying to compete where you can't win. Figure out where you can beat her, and then do so.
posted by Elminster24 at 8:51 AM on July 25, 2010

I'm going to ditto making friends with her, and add - when I start to panic over insecurity and jealousy because someone is better at stuff that matters to me than I am, I like to resolve it by getting in touch with them and suggest we hang out and trade skills / teach each other stuff.

You know, something like 'Hey, you're really awesome at electronics! I'm good at knitting, which would help the aesthetics of your electronics projects, but I need help brushing up on electronics to help with the underlying functionality of my knitting projects. Wanna hang out this weekend, and you can teach me some electronics and I'll teach you some advanced knitting techniques?"

Or even: "Hey, you're great at X! I've been meaning to learn more X, and would appreciate it if you'd be willing to take an afternoon to show me any tips and tricks you have for doing it so well and so efficiently. But I really don't want to just be a burden or anything, so would you be interested in swapping for learning any of my skills? I love teaching people what I know of Y, Z, M, and N - any of that interest you?"

Doing it that way tends to help me build friendships, learn new things, and be viscerally reminded that I already know things / have skills of value myself. It puts us on more equal footing, at least in my own mind, and that's what calms me down.
posted by Eshkol at 9:26 AM on July 25, 2010

Figure out where you can beat her, and then do so.

I'm going to go on the record as disagreeing with this attitude. This isn't a contest, it's an organization with a goal. Trying to turn it into a personal contest to one-up one another based on personal dislike is counterproductive and turns potential friends into rivals for no good reason.
posted by griphus at 9:30 AM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

5) Hard work impresses few people and #1 and #2 don't help

Not true. I think most people are impressed by someone who works hard and overcomes adversity. People are superficially drawn to someone who is good-looking and wealthy but on the flip side, they're probably more likely to talk trash behind their back and try to tear them down a notch.

From reading this and your previous question, you sound very depressed, and I would look at these feelings as another symptom. It's the depression talking. I have similar issues and it's like my brain just seizes on whatever is wrong and won't let go of it. In fact, I think I've done this very thing, fixate on someone who seemingly "has it all" and then just make myself utterly miserable dwelling on them. I think if you focus on treating the mental health issues, you'll find that this problem will fade away.
posted by cottonswab at 9:38 AM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

It doesn't sound like she's technically doing anything wrong, and you're desperately looking for flaws in her persona. I want to emphasize persona here because that's all you're seeing of her. Obviously it works for her and burns you up that it's so effective.
You need to get over this. You need to get over this because of the way your reaction makes you appear to others. It's very offputting to see someone grasping at straws/flaws in others simply to make themselves feel better. If that nitpicky sourgrapes has become part of your persona in the community then you've put yourself in a bit of charm hole. I surmise this from your data regarding what her close friends say about her, it sounds like you're digging for dirt on her to turn to dust in your little angst mill.
I've done this sort of thing myself, and occasionally I've been right about the errors of the ways of supposed golden child. But in the end it was a Pyrrhic victory, as I'd lost a lot of face from being so relentlessly salty about them from the get go.
When you can stop seeing yourself in competition with her, and define yourself without comparison to her, you will have the self-assurance you need. Your success will not be defined with her getting her come-uppance.
Generally also it is not a mentally healthy stance to blame others for your dissatisfaction.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 9:44 AM on July 25, 2010

Response by poster: This is a specific running subculture. Her natural talents are athletic ones. I am a track coach for a local high school.

My first instinct was to make friends with her, but she rebuffed these attempts while simultaneously making better friends with all of my friends in the group. I do not think she did this consciously, but that is how it happened. As for asking for advice, she does not have much to give me as while I'm not talented I'm good at coaching (as I said I like to help out the community), and she is someone who does not have an interest in teaching others. This is part of the reason I get upset when everyone worships her, as I feel I have made good contributions to helping other members and the community. I thought I had improved my socialization skills but standing next to her is another area where I feel left in the dust.

It is true I'm going through a lot of internal struggles, but I don't think jealousy of someone who is more talented and better-looking is unique to me. That's why I wanted to see others' techniques.

I know life is not fair, and I have to do the best with the hand I am dealt. Normally I am OK with this. Because I care so much about this particular thing it makes it especially hard.

For what it is worth, I do not put her down in front of other members, this struggle is all internal to get rid of my pettiness. As I said she rebuffed my initial attempts at friendship and does not invite me to the group socialization functions she organizes so I can't judge her deeper personality. The negative things I said (immaturity, etc) were told to me by her friends in a "Haha, yes, it's true, oh well!" sort of way.
posted by Hey nonny nonny mouse at 9:53 AM on July 25, 2010

Response by poster: And I never said she was doing anything wrong. That is why this question is about how to deal with my irrational jealousy and not how to fight her.
posted by Hey nonny nonny mouse at 9:54 AM on July 25, 2010

She may sense your feelings toward her, or more probably she's used to some people just hating her for reasons she doesn't fully understand -- and you may fit the profile. That would explain why she's not been so friendly toward you: she's intimidated and a little afraid. Women who are jealous of other women (not you, but some) can be very mean and a little crazy, especially if the objects are insensitive and intentionally or unintentionally provocative.

Slapping, face scratching - the rage just takes over and jealous women (I suspect it's worst in older women who feel the used to be all that) do horrible, dehumanizing things.

If she thinks you're like that, she's going to give you a wide berth. This is totally not your fault, but I offer it as a possible explanation for her "rebuffing" your friendship overtures.

Of course, another possibility is that she doesn't know what to talk about with you, or she's a snob, or she's intimidated by your knowledge and experience -- it's impossible to be sure.
posted by amtho at 10:12 AM on July 25, 2010

though she is funny and charming she's immature, selfish, and lacks empathy because her exposure to life difficulties have been minimal.

Then your starting premise that she "has everything" needs to be revised, no?

As FlamingBore says upthread, don't trust the packaging. People who are immature, selfish, and lacking in empathy are -- in my experience -- invariably unhappy, troubled, lonely people at their core. All the looks, charm, and talent in the world will not fill an essential hollowness.

On the other hand, qualities like hard work, self-awareness, empathy, and the desire for others to succeed -- namely, qualities that you describe yourself as possessing and cultivating! -- are marks of a person with the fundamental capacity for happiness and wholeness.

I know that it doesn't put the spotlight on you, and that that's no doubt frustrating and galling, but on the score that actually counts in the long term, I think you are way ahead of her.
posted by scody at 10:21 AM on July 25, 2010 [3 favorites]

As someone who's felt like you plenty of times (I truly sympathize!), will you allow me to be harsh?

I'm passionate about enlarging the community and helping the people within (have made a career of it).

Well, you say you feel this way, but right now your feelings seem to indicate you are much more passionate about how the community feeds your own ego needs. Sure, it's all fine and good when you're being recognized/paid attention towards, but it all seems to change when somebody takes away the limelight for a moment, right?

If you truly were interested in enlarging the community, you would see this girl as a good thing, since her charms will help attract more people (just like sometimes retail managers will get attractive people to browse in their stores to attract more shoppers). But you don't say this. Your feelings about the community are largely tied to how they make YOU feel about yourself. So why are you dissing this girl about wanting to advance in it, when it seems that you seem to be using it for your own selfish reasons? You want the community to acknowledge how "good" you are, when it seems, your own reasons are at least partially selfish.

One thing about the ego: it will always be bottomless. There's this idea that you should stop feeling envy because someone will always be prettier/more charming than you. I see it more of an idea that for some of us, the ego has no limits, and it will always try to make us feel like we're either being threatened or, conversely, "good" when there are no threats about. It has a survival function, but for the most part in most human beings in modern societies, it has largely spun out of control. The ego thinks life owes it things. And a sneakier way it takes over our minds and feelings is when it says, "but I am doing X! So I should get Y!", giving us that extra layer of moral justification, making us feel even more defensive about ourselves.

Perhaps it's time to take a step back and ask yourself why you are really in this community. If its for your ego needs, its perhaps best to start looking elsewhere, at something where you can nakedly pursue that in a healthy way (sports or games, etc.). If you truly want to be the helpful person who cares about this group, you might want to remind yourself from now on that it's not about YOU, it's about the needs of the group. Is this group worth it to you?

As far as envy and jealousy goes: I see them always as reminders to myself about how far my ego has gotten out of control (i.e., "wow, I must be fooling myself into thinking I'm somebody damned important again") and a time to ask myself, "is this really how I want to be?" It's a constant process, but without these annoying/painful wake up calls, I think I'd truly become a monster, like one of those celebrities with a hangers on who only tell them nice things and protect that fragile self image every way possible.

Again, I commiserate. I think a lot of us come from this background that actually makes you more prone to jealousy and self-loathing in insidious ways (this idea that you can be anybody that you want to be, that if you just work hard, you can have anything you want...there is an actual TED talk on this by Alain de Botton, btw!).

5) Hard work impresses few people and #1 and #2 don't help

Yes, impressing people with hard work is actually a tough thing to do in this world. Humans like shiny objects and pretty things and things that make noise, so you are catering to the needs of beings that would prefer circuses. While it's fun to impress people, you better know your audience before you try. Either realize your audience is a very specific one, or you expand your skills to cater to the broader audience (humor, charisma, clothing and makeup).

Or maybe, you'll find there are other enjoyable things to do that don't involve having to impress people.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 10:29 AM on July 25, 2010 [3 favorites]

at something where you can nakedly pursue that in a healthy way (sports or games, etc.).

I am a track coach for a local high school.

I guess my lack of knowledge about sports as an ego-healthy pursuit is showing here. Sorry.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 10:32 AM on July 25, 2010

Learn from her. She's not perfect - obviously - but she has enough talent to offer you something you can take for your own efforts.
posted by medea42 at 10:46 AM on July 25, 2010

you sound like you're already aware of the, shall we say 'Buddhist philosophy?' that it is not outside events, but our attachment/chosen-emotional-reaction that makes us unhappy.
I.e. these feelings you have about the girl sounds like they are making you more unhappy and insecure, than if the situation was the same but you didn't mind/care/whatever.
If only our brain meats were more logical about this sort of thing. :P

Not giving out a blanket recommendation, but there is a practice online that might be effective for this specific situation. Check out and try going through the worksheets - ie 'Judging your Neighbour'. The meat & potatoes of it is in those available steps, everything else just seems to testimonials/examples (I've browsed the books, seems to be same deal).

Internet stranger here, but hey - I'm impressed by your self-honesty, maturity, and essential kindheartedness, exemplified in that you are logically looking at how to get over this. My best wishes go out to you.
posted by Elysum at 10:59 AM on July 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

To piggyback on the Buddhism thing upthread, there's this saying: 'Fetch wood. Carry water.'

That means no matter what you are feeling or what you are going through, you need to bow your head and do your work. In this case: coach.

It's surprising how many things disappear when you're doing what you're supposed to be doing.

Maybe it sounds trivial, I don't know, but that got me through some incredibly rough days of my life--fetch wood, carry water. Remember what the work is, and do it, whether it's cleaning the bathroom or coaching.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:26 AM on July 25, 2010 [16 favorites]

Best answer: You and she are not in competition. Her presence doesn't diminish yours. I really, really doubt anyone thinks that it does.

You have a niche in this community, you don't need or want hers.
posted by desuetude at 11:36 AM on July 25, 2010 [3 favorites]

I try to tell myself that hard work is its own reward

This isn't actually true. Hard work is useful for its virtue of being able to pay off in the form of rewards. Hard work is valuable because in many cases other people just aren't willing to do it, giving you, the hard worker, the advantage. Simply believing that you are supposed to break your back for the sake of it when the payoffs don't come (or, even worse, when other people are getting the credit and rewards, if any), is a formula for burnout.

On another note, you are always going to be confronting the situation where the charismatic attractive person is going to be sought after as the "natural leader" for whatever organization you're associated with. There are various chicken-and-egg reasons for this: people may well be just drawn to them as who they want as their leaders, or at an early age they may have found themselves regarded as "leaders" and learned to develop those sorts of interpersonal skills and sense of confidence. The best way to deal with that is to put them in a position where they have some kind of public facing position without interfering with the rest of the organization: you know, fundraising, speaking at public engagements, etc.

How much control do you, personally, have over the organization? How much does the spread of the community depend on you? What I'm saying is that you can take ownership of certain aspects that don't involve her. Just make sure to keep developing and maintaining your relationships with other people in the organization. Make sure you're indispensable, but realize that this person you can't stand is also going to end up being an integral part of the organization.

Barring all that, for the long term, try to ensure that you take up jobs and roles where the most important things are hard work, tangible success, and deep institutional knowledge-- ones where you will be less likely to be displaced by someone who can get by on the strength of charisma alone.
posted by deanc at 11:59 AM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

I, too, work with an organization within a community that I am deeply passionate about, and we have a rule to deal with these little internal disputes:

There is no personal drama in drama club.

Which is a really nice way of saying, do not bring your shit here. The more you make a conscious, specific effort to leave all forms of personal drama behind when you go to participate in events, the more people will notice your joyful, non-drama-filled participation. Leave your resentment of her in your car. Leave your desire to talk to other people about her (in any context) in your car. As we say, you are here for the work, so be present in the moment for whatever you are doing. Others will notice that, and appreciate it, because it's hard for anyone to have fun when there is obvious tension between people (and honestly, people will know, if only instinctually). You will start doing this because it is a good idea, and you will keep doing it because once you stop allowing yourself to shit where you eat, you will realize how great it is to dump your issues and leave them behind when you do this thing you love.

There is no personal drama in running club.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:40 PM on July 25, 2010 [3 favorites]

You have the most important thing that she does not: perspective.

When you are 80, she will probably not be a storied athlete or coach based on the information given. She has no rags-to-riches story; YOU WILL, if you keep your attitude and focus on your achievements and goals rather than hers.

She's not mentoring aspiring athletes, either, from what I've read here; she doesn't coach, you do, correct?

You have the chance to make an impact on an entire generation of runners. She does not.

SHE. DOES. NOT. Specifically because of the superficial qualities you listed and her non-interest in coaching. However, if you let her keep getting to you, your coaching is going to suffer, and you won't let that happen, right? Otherwise you're letting her abilities destroy yours. I'd be really pissed at myself if I allowed another person, without even trying, to sabotage my life because I couldn't control my own jealousy.

So focus on your coaching. When she comes up, only say nice things. Seethe internally, but don't gossip/criticize her. Eventually, through refusing to feed this jealousy, it should abate. Try focusing on the futures of those you're coaching instead of her. They deserve your attention, not her!

One day one of your students or colleagues may end up doing something amazing, and who will get thanked that day on the dais? Who was the inspiration, the person who pushed them hard to get from great to excellent? From "good runner" to "Olympian"? YOU.

Woman-to-woman advice here: Looks and charm are often given more power than they should in our society, because they typically don't last. Youth, too.

I think of it as the "wow" factor: would you rather be a shooting star, or the moon? One is magical, distracting and rare. The other's always there, dependable, not as flashy... but it's given us far more important things. The tides. Menstrual cycles. Calendars. Seasons. Holidays.

Realize that you are the moon, and this girl is a shooting star. She'll be gone and forgotten one day, but you won't.

And as much as you dislike this girl, reasons or no reasons, you do realize you're becoming just as petty and immature as she is over something she has NO control over: her looks, her wealthy background, and her natural athletic ability. You'd make the most of it if you were in her position; your problem is that you're NOT in her position and you wish you were, because you'd appreciate it. But see? You wouldn't, for all the reasons mentioned above. You can't give this girl your personal issues and background, and she can't give you her wealth, talent or looks. That's just reality. It's not fair, no. But these are the cards you were dealt.

As a woman of a certain age, beauty and intelligence, it's ingrained in us all to be competitive. For mates, food, resources, praise, achievement. Yours is the universal struggle. How you react to it can win you respect, praise and new opportunities. Or it can diminish you.

As a Veronica surrounded by Heathers, I feel your pain. But you gotta realize that people who start out in life with a laundry list of natural advantages are often undone by the most mundane things, as they have few coping mechanisms. If you sitting around waiting for this girl to fail or move on, what exactly is your life about, anyway?

If you want a logical, rational, physical way to get over it? Put a large rubber band on your wrist. Every time you start seething over this girl, pop your wrist with it. I think once you have gotten to the point where you're in physical pain, you might be able to train yourself, Pavlov-style, into breaking that thought pattern.

Assuming the rubber band trick doesn't work, commit to volunteering in a children's hospital or nursing home for one hour every time you get overwhelmed with the hate/jealousy rush from this woman --- and then go do it. Believe me, nothing shakes you out of "but she's thinner/prettier/faster/richer than me and IT'S NOT FAIR!!!!" mentality than being immersed in real, unavoidable situations that nobody chose for themselves, whether it's a four-year-old going through chemo or some charming octogenarian whose family has never visited him.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:06 PM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

I had a workmate I felt similarly about. To compound it, she couldn't stand me. Several years later, I came to the realisation that what rankled most was my secret feeling that I should be like her. I should be as efficient, charming, forward etc. etc. as her. But I wasn't. Her success showed up my lack of success, her charms made me painfully aware of my lack of charms. Her sneers made me a loser. Every word I heard her say, I would be spending the time gnawing at my not-like-her-ness.
It was excruciating, being in the same room as her and I couldn't seem to stop.

What helped? I started training myself to, every time I found myself thinking about her, do something work related instead. If necessary I use earphones to block her out. This boosted both my work effort and my satisfaction with myself. Eventually I came to the realisation that she was not, in fact, perfect. I told myself out loud, with satisfaction, what a superficial, rude, limited person she was whose work was far better than mine in some ways, sure, but actually sucked in other ways.

And strangely enough, giving myself permission to despise her flaws made me feel significantly better about her good sides. I can't say I'll ever like her, but she's stopped having any power over me and how I perceive myself.

My mantra: Her being good takes nothing away from me: That was an illusion. I thought it lessened other people's regard of me, but in fact it only highlighted my own insecurity.

This person you have such strong feelings about is a very valuable addition to your life. Learning why you feel this way and what to do about it can be a significant step for you. Value her for the lesson you can learn, if for nothing else.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:17 PM on July 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

this struggle is all internal to get rid of my pettiness

She probably has her own internal struggles. Everyone suffers sometimes. You're only seeing one small part of this girl's life--and her friends only see a small part, as well, although it may be slightly bigger. Who knows what is actually inside her head. Being the "Golden Girl" might not be as fulfilling as you think.

And it's trite, but the most important judge of your value is yourself. It's natural for you to feel some resentment because this girl is "stealing" recognition that you have to work hard for, but it shouldn't consume you. People like this will pass through your life, and then... you're the one that's left. And when you look back on your time coaching track, will you be satisfied with what you did? I think you will.

I used to hate all of that "value yourself" and "you're the most important person in your life" self-confidence blather that's shot at children and teens, because it's such vague and meaningless crap, but I think the core message is very true. When I was able to reach a mental place where I no longer needed as much external validation, I became so much happier, and things like your situation became so much easier to deal with.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:37 PM on July 25, 2010

Best answer: I think in the midst of all of the advice about how Hey mommy nonny can avoid letting her resentment consume her, there definitely is a political struggle going on that she alludes to which sounds like it may have consequences for her role within the community organization. It would help if people could give her sone advice about how to navigate those treacherous waters.

The woman she is dealing with has rebuffed her attempts at friendship and is organizing social gatherings and events with Hey nonny nonny's colleagues within the community organization without including her. This sounds like a path that could result in her getting sidelined. I mean, the most important thing is to be a good coach and do that well rather than get bogged down in politics and resentment, but maintaining one's position without getting alienated by an interloper is important, too. I'm sure others have better advice for how to deal with those situations than I do.
posted by deanc at 2:52 PM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

"the girl who has everything" rarely does.

Seriously. From the outside she's perfect. Inside? She's more likely to have an eating disorder, to have self esteem issues and to go dateless on Saturday nights. It's not a universal truth, but I've known so many of these women only to find out how horribly vulnerable and scarred they are from their perceived perfection. Don't believe the packaging.

This and then some. You don't actually know what her life is like. Her parents may have been abusive (and this is possible even if they are financially generous). She may have serious physical and/or mental health problems in her past. She may be a rape survivor. She may have lost people close to her. Etc, etc. You really have no idea. Being pretty and having money are really great, but they don't protect you from every crappy thing in life. It's possible, of course, that her life really is perfect, but it sounds like it would be a useful mental exercise for you to stop making that assumption.

Along those lines, this David Foster Wallace speech touches on how to practice mindful compassion for irritating and difficult people - I like to re-read it when in need of a simultaneous kick-in-the-pants/pick-me-up.
posted by naoko at 3:15 PM on July 25, 2010 [4 favorites]

Funny. As I read this, I thought of an extraordinarily ugly woman I've met, really extraordinarily ugly. The only thing you could say for her was that she had good hygiene, because she dressed like she didn't care, and dear god, even surgery couldn't have fixed that face. She wasn't very smart, and had skewed morals (of which I disapproved, how can you tell?). And yet, she was very, very popular.

I think your problem has nothing to do with your looks or your smarts. Some people are born with inexplicable charm and others develop it. You can, to an extent, develop charm, if such is your desire, or magnetism. Don't ask me how, since I clearly have not mastered the art.
posted by tejolote at 8:13 PM on July 27, 2010

From the outside she's perfect. Inside? She's more likely to have an eating disorder, to have self esteem issues and to go dateless on Saturday nights. It's not a universal truth, but I've known so many of these women only to find out how horribly vulnerable and scarred they are from their perceived perfection. Don't believe the packaging.

This and then some. You don't actually know what her life is like. Her parents may have been abusive (and this is possible even if they are financially generous). She may have serious physical and/or mental health problems in her past. She may be a rape survivor.

And that is an example of wishful thinking, overly romanticized thinking. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
posted by tejolote at 8:14 PM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

I didn't say it was true, I said it was a useful mental exercise whether it was true or not.
posted by naoko at 6:57 PM on July 28, 2010

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