Jealousy is one of those traits many of us like least in ourselves. But there are certain scenarios where we just can’t seem to shake it.
That was the case for a Reddit user who recently sought advice about how to be happy for her coworker who was recently promoted.
She prefaced her story by saying, “Please don’t just flame me for being a b****, I know that and I’m just desperate for some tips or suggestions to cope.”
She also explained, “I suffer with a lot of mental illnesses but I’m in treatment and on medication and I’ve come SUCH a long way. My live in boyfriend says over the last year I’ve been amazing with very few manic episodes or bouts of depression and anxiety. I still have my moments but I talk to a therapist and see a psychiatrist. I will discuss my jealousy issues with my therapist soon but honestly we’ve had bigger fish to fry, and I’m kind of only now seeing what a big problem my jealousy is.”
Okay, so with those points out in the open, here's the situation in its entirety:
I am an Executive Assistant (EA) at a huge public company. I work for one of the top executives. I'm a career EA, it's what I want to do forever. I fell into it after college and worked my way to higher execs by getting experiencing and jumping companies. My coworker Jenny was hired about 2 years ago after another EA left to support another exec. About 6 months ago our CEO left and Jenny's boss was promoted to CEO so she is now EA to the CEO of a huge public company. She has naturally and appropriately taken on a leadership position for all the company EAs, advocating for us, making sure our workloads aren't too much, in short - being amazing. Doing what I'd do in her shoes and really kicking ass at it.
But that means nothing to me. I'm not one ounce happy for her, I'm just insanely jealous. I had one freak out early on and cried to her and said if she started acting like my manager I'd leave, I report to my exec not to her, I'm not clearing vacations with her or asking her "permission" for anything. She was shocked and said none of that would happen and that I would never report to her but she has just become a natural point of contact for certain issues (like hiring of new EAs, etc). I said it wasn't fair that she got promoted because her boss did, and my boss is not on the CEO track (at this company), so I'd never get this opportunity that fell into her lap.
She is a friend and the next day I profusely apologized. She knows about my mental issues so I hoped she blamed it on a manic episode and honestly, that's what I hoped it was too. We hugged, she said she was really hurt by what I said since she worked damn hard and didn't just coast along with her boss, she deserves her position. She is absolutely right. She deserves it and she excels at it and everyone else is so happy for her and appreciates all the extra work she's taken on with this elevated role. I told her so and said please disregard what I said, it was an immature outburst that she did not deserve.
But...in reality I hate every second of it, I'm jealous, I've been there longer, I've been an EA longer, I'm great at my job, I'm jealous every second of every day. Every time my boss asks her a direct question without going through me makes me jealous. Ridiculously stupid things make me jealous. I'm a gross ball of hate but since my initial outburst I haven't said a word to her, I'm smart enough to know my jealous is really ugly and would alienate me from all my coworkers. I've been desperately looking for a new job because I hate that she is now "above" me, like I think I should be simply because I've been there longer.
I'm sure I'll get a fair amount of judgment here, I can't avoid it, but I know my feelings and past behavior are ugly and wrong and will talk to my therapist about it (if we have time after discussion all my other issues) and I'd really just love some tips on how to not be so effing jealous. Why can't I just be happy for her? I LOVED my job before this. Our CEO before had brought his own assistant who was 55 and had been working for him for 20 years and I felt fine with her being our defacto leader, but I don't give Jenny that same respect.
I don't want to be this person. I've worked so hard to get over so many issues, I hate this ugly part of my personality :(
A number of Reddit users weighed in, with some fruitful advice.
One user wrote, "This is the core of your issue: putting in time (time-in-service) does not always translate to promotions. Typically, having more time in a position will result in more experience and stronger relationships - both of which lead to opportunities for growth. As such, it can suck that someone new "jumped the line" for your office's hierarchy; it is natural to feel upset because it marginalizes your effort...Ultimately, you have to accept that some opportunities are outside of your (and her) control, and focus only on what you do have direct control over."
Another had a practical strategy for dealing with jealousy, suggesting "trying to actively point out the areas she's good at her job any time you're jealous."
Another user had some wise advice to offer, given that they had found themselves in a similar situation - but on the receiving end of unfair jealousy. "You do need to talk to your therapist about envy," they wrote.
"I was once a "Jenny" in relation to someone who has been a friend since college. When I moved into her division after a big promotion, she would drop little spite bombs and then leave my office. The irony was that I thought she had an amazing life-- terrific husband, great house, kids (things I didn't have at the time). It was literally years and after I moved to another job and she had the same problem with someone else that she realized she had a problem."
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Sometimes it can be very difficult to accept other peoples success - especially when we feel like we're entitled to, but not receiving, the same opportunities. Ultimately, the jealous Redditor replied to the people offering help, affirming "rational me knows it's not fair and she deserves everything coming her way."
Perhaps the best thing we can do is take a mindful approach to jealous feelings. Accepting that they're there, and letting them wash over us without judging them or dwelling on them. Because unfortunately, envy is just one of the myriad of experiences that makes us human.
What advice would you offer?