real life

'Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.'

by JO ABI

“Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.” Diane Sawyer quoting writer Eugene Luther Gore Vidal on The View

 Have I been prone to a stab of envy from time to time? Of course I have. Jealousy and envy are normal emotions, but it’s what we do with emotions like these that I find interesting.

I’ve had a few career highlights over the past twenty years (not as many as I’d like but that’s okay) and how ‘friends’ react has always interested me. There are those who call and congratulate me (even if they are feeling a little put out) and then there are those who maintain radio silence. Even when I call them and eventually get them to pick up, my latest success isn’t even mentioned. It’s like it hasn’t even happened.

It’s not that I need their praise and attention – it’s just that I’m always so happy for my friends and their successes. Why can’t they be happy for me too? They know I was fired from my dream job eight years ago. They know I lost everything in the financial crisis three years ago. I’ve started to slowly rebuild my finances and my career and I thought everyone would be so happy for me.

When I mentioned to my husband that a certain friend hadn’t been returning my calls since my latest achievement he named the friend immediately, without me having to even give him a hint. When I asked him how he knew he just scoffed. But I still feel sad. Does my success take anything away from them? Why can’t they be proud and then channel any feelings they have to motivated them to achieve their own dreams?

I’ve always believed in ‘paying it forward’. The more people you support and help the more you’ll get back. But that’s not why I do it. I help people because people helped me when I was trying to get into my particular industry. At the end of the day, I’m not going to lose work because I helped someone else get a job. If you’re right for a job you’ll get it. If you don’t get it, it may as well be a friend who does.

When I lost a stack of weight when I was younger one friend took a look at me and said, “Bitch”. This same friend – when she found out I had become engaged said the same thing – “Bitch.” What the hell?

A relative – upon seeing my rapid weight-loss – said, “I’m so jealous.” I answered, “Don’t be jealous. Be motivated. We can do it together.” And then I proceeded to explain everything I was doing. She took a different path but achieved her own weight-loss goals and I was so proud of her.

“Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little,” will remain a perplexing quote to me, especially as it was spoken but such a successful man. But it’s a sad truth. It’s not easy to see people succeed when you’re in a bit of a rut but I think there’s no better kick up the butt than to see someone you love achieve. Bring it on.

Jo Abi is the author of the book How to Date a Dad: a dating guide released by Hachette Livre Australia.  You can read more about her many and various exploits here.

Have you ever had friends been less-than-impressed with your achievements? Are you a bit green-eyed when it comes to your friends?

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