Jealousy of Friends
Jealousy got you down? A teenager shares how she stopped comparing herself and started celebrating her own accomplishments.
Categories: Gratitude, Loving and Forgiving, Ruth
In the beginning of my freshman year, I had the opportunity to participate in the volleyball program with four friends at my high school. I was overjoyed to be a part of it and couldn't wait to get playing. At first, all the girls played together, but after a couple of days, we were split into two groups -- JV and Varsity. I was put on the JV team with two of my friends; my two other friends were chosen to be on the Varsity team.
I tried very hard to let this go, but the more I thought about it, the more I wished I could be on the Varsity team, too. I was jealous of my two friends' ability to play volleyball better than I did. And I was envious of them being on the Varsity team, mostly because of the prestige and glory I just knew they would get. I couldn't help imagining conversations like this:
Stranger in the Hallway: Hey, so what sport are you in?
My Friend: Oh, volleyball.
Stranger in the Hallway: Cool; are you on JV?
My Friend: Actually, I'm on Varsity (blushing with modesty).
Stranger in the Hallway: Wow! You must be really good! That's awesome (obviously extremely impressed)!
Now, to a rational and secure young person, this superficial attention wouldn't mean anything. But to me, receiving this kind of recognition and acceptance through athletic ability in my new high school life was major. Without this public assurance of my completeness and individual uniqueness, I felt like I wouldn't be recognized for the great person I am. And I began to feel that maybe I wasn't really so amazing after all.
As school progressed, this thought only crept deeper and deeper into my consciousness until finally I realized that every time someone mentioned volleyball teams, I felt inadequate compared to my friends.
However, I didn't leave the situation this way. There are several references in the Bible that point out why I didn't need to and never have to feel jealous or incomplete because someone surpasses me in an activity, such as volleyball. First of all, there is an instance where Peter asks Jesus about John's1 future. Jesus responds by saying, "[W]hat is that to thee? follow thou me" (John 21:22 KJV). Jesus is telling Peter that he doesn't need to worry about what John is doing; everyone has his or her own path and goals to follow. Just as Peter doesn't need to worry about what John is doing, I don't need to concern myself with how I am doing in comparison to my friends.
There is another helpful story in the Bible that tells of a woman named Ruth. Her father-in-law, her brothers-in-law, and her own husband die. She is left with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Though Naomi tells Ruth that she can return to her own family, Ruth decides to stay with Naomi and travel with her back to Bethlehem. Ruth goes to Bethlehem with only the assurance from God that she is a person of value.
She arrives but has no public recognition of her individual goodness because she is lacking a husband. She has to rely on her own respect and appreciation for herself. Eventually, after working through the harvest season, Ruth finds the perfect husband and gains public appreciation of her worthiness to be a part of society.2
What I needed to realize was that I had the wrong attitude when approaching my placement on the JV team. I needed to see that even though I didn't have "the husband" -- or the name of "Varsity" attached to me -- I was still a person of value.
These realizations have led me to a place where I am no longer jealous of my friends or their athletic ability. Instead, I've put my time to more useful endeavors like making goals for improving my volleyball skills. I now embrace my friends' excellent achievements and am happy for them. I also know that I am capable of my own wonderful accomplishments!