If we’re all being perfectly honest, we’ll confess that, at some point or another, we’ve had a frenemy, cousin, sister or bestie whose good news we’ve coveted. Even if only for a nanosecond, we’ve felt the familiar pang of longing, followed by a tumult of torn-ness and shame after her excited announcement: “I’m getting married!” or, “We’re expecting!” or, “I just closed on a waterfront condo!” or, “I’m moving to Paris! With my new fiance! Who owns a vineyard! And wants five kids!”
Sure, we’re waaay too secure for such emotional crises now. We’re self-actualized women who are far too busy chasing our own successes to pine after those of our friends. That’s childish. That’s petty. That’s small.
But it’s relatable. We’ve been there. On occasion, the fates align in such a way that we’ve reached a personal low while a loved one has reached an astronomical high. Don’t worry, though. You’re not automatically a hater if you privately wail, “Why not me?!” when you hear about your girlfriend’s engagement the same day you’ve broken off your own.
You’re only a hater if, after your knee-jerk spate of jealousy, you begrudge your girl her happiness. You’re a hater if, rather than processing your own insecurities and channeling them into personal growth, you mutter, “That ain’t gon’ last”–or even worse, you silently hope it doesn’t.
Here are three ways you can overcome your unease about the joyous news of your friends:
1. Let congratulations stifle comparisons.
It’s endlessly tempting to mark up a scorecard that tallies your accomplishments and those of your peers. You’re 30; she’s 30. She’s married; you’re single. You’ve got a master’s; she’s got an associate’s. Tally, tally, tally till you feel like you’ve come out on top. And though I know I don’t have to tell *you* this–what, with you being so much bigger than this–but coming up with an arbitrary set of criteria that measures where you should be in life against where other people are is crazy-making.
So sidestep the urge, ignore any voice that says, “How much longer before it happens for me?” and just offer the sincerest congratulations you can muster. Repeat them until they drown out your own as-yet-unfulfilled longings.
2. Offer a helping hand.
There’s no better way to get up out of your feelings that to focus on someone else’s for a while. You’ve wanted an oceanside wedding since you were eight, and it’s starting to look like it’s not in the cards? Help your friend plan hers. Look at it this way: if this is the closest you’ll ever get to your dream wedding, your plans for it won’t go to waste.
The same principal applies for your younger sister moving into a home valued at six figures. Still in an apartment with no clue when you’ll be able to afford your own dream house? Help your sister move–and be cheerful about it. Sharing in her joy will make you so happy for her that your own dubious homeownership plans will seem insignificant. And proximity to what you want will redouble your desire to pursue it.
3. Hold up a mirror.
Figure out what’s going on with you. There’s a reason you’re taking your own slowed progress so hard. What is it? The sooner you find the root of your issue, the sooner you’ll be able to feel immediate, uncomplicated joy for the people you care about, regardless of your own life’s gains and losses.
Have you ever found yourself coveting someone else’s happiness? How did you handle it?