[pardon me for repeating something I wrote just about a year ago but it’s needed]
No matter what you do or where you go in life, there will always be someone around who is jealous of you. Jealous of your position, your clothes, your personality, your happiness, your money, your car, your attitude. They will resent the things you have they don’t. Instead of trying to attain those things for themselves they will harbor a grudge against you. Instead of being pleased for you, they will quietly seethe.
Sometimes they will try to have those things taken from you. They will play down your achievements so you don’t feel as accomplished as you once did. They will find a way to cut from you the things that make you – in their eyes – better than them. If they can’t have it, you can’t have it. If they are miserable, you need to be miserable, too. And no matter how hard you work to maintain a civil relationship with these people, no matter how humble you are about what you have that they don’t, it won’t make a difference because your humility, your grace or your empathy with their situation only serves to aggravate them. They don’t want you to be understanding. They don’t want you to be sympathetic. Their jealousy and resentment build up to a point where they can no longer let go of the pettiness that now consumes them. They hate their situation. You are not in their situation. So they hate you, by default.
They might not even realize they’re doing it. But over the course of a few months you notice a change in a friend’s behavior. You notice a strain in your relationship. You notice there are certain things they don’t want you to talk about. They don’t want to hear about your happiness because they are shrouded in misery. It doesn’t matter that you once felt like they do, you can’t possibly know now. It doesn’t matter that you worked hard for what you have now, that you went through hell to get it. They have forgotten all the things you have in common, all the things that made you friends, and they’ll concentrate on the one thing you have that they don’t. And they’ll hate you for it.
We can’t have nice things because the people without nice things would rather level the playing field by making sure we’re all without, than trying to make sure we are all with. It’s easier that way.
Stop trying to placate these people. Stop making yourself think you are somehow to blame for their shift in attitude. Stop thinking it’s up to you to repair friendships that were damaged when one person ran roughshod over them. Stop giving people the benefit of the doubt, stop being the one who rolls over and plays dead just to keep the peace. You owe yourself the fight. You owe yourself more than struggling to maintain civility to the point where you comply, give in and give up.
But you can’t, can you? You’re just not that kind of person. You’d rather be passive than aggressive. You’d rather make sure everyone gets what they want, even if it means downsizing what you want. You just keep on avoiding confrontation, because to confront would mean to cause a stir, and people like us don’t cause a stir. We just smile and say, “Thank you sir, may I have another?”
We’re the people you put the extra tasks on. We’re the people who say yes to everything. We’re the people who will do your menial tasks while you sit back and file your fingernails. We’re the people you go to day after day for the extra things, because we are the least likely to complain about them. We get shuffled, moved, forgotten, taken for granted, taken advantage of and we’re rarely thanked for our extra efforts because these things are expected of us. We have set ourselves up to this way, to be the doormats of society and no one even thanks us for letting them wipe their feet on us. We volunteer our time for projects that no one else wants and all those people who wouldn’t do what we are doing will still find a way to complain about the way we do it. They don’t want to help you fix it, they just want to tell you what you are – in their eyes – doing wrong, and walk away. They have no solutions, only problems.
We are the people who struggle to maintain friendships. We are the ones who make the calls, write the letters, try to wonder what we did wrong to make us drift apart like that. We apologize for the drift as if it were our own making. And when it’s obvious the struggle is one way, we mourn the friendship while you move on to someone else as if all those years of shared lives mean nothing. We need friends, you need someone who is going through the same thing as you at the same time as you because that is the only way your feelings get validated. You just want someone to listen to you, but you don’t want to listen in return. You want do dump and vent; we want to share and help. You need someone to help justify your existence; we need someone who can make each other’s existence a bit better.
There are people who want you complacent and compliant, who want you to just lie still and take it and maybe try to smile as they slowly kill your will. There are people who will try their hardest to make you believe you don’t deserve what you have and you dont’ deserve what you want. There are people who will lie to you and sweet talk you and tell you everything you think you want to hear and when you let down your guard and trust them and trust their words, they’ll pounce like a vicious lion and hold you between their teeth until you’re nothing but a rag doll. Another trophy kill for them.
There comes a point in your life when you have to say, no more. There comes a time when you have to give up the ghosts of those friendships, when you have to find some pride and dignity and stop letting people walk on you. Realize that whatever good has come into your life, you own. You earned that good, you earned that happiness and no one should be allowed to make you feel guilty about it. Realize that you can say NO. You can stand up for yourself. You can fight for what is rightfully yours. Stop apologizing for being you. Stop apologizing for what makes you who you are. Fix what can be fixed and what can’t be fixed, throw out. Stop trying to make everyone happy. Make yourself happy. Look at you. Look at how far you’ve come. How dare you let anyone else make you feel like you don’t deserve that? How dare you let anyone else make you feel like you need to hide what you have because they don’t have it? You owe yourself more than that. And you certainly owe yourself more than, at this point in your life, to be doing something that is making you completely miserable. Change isn’t easy, but it is possible. Dumping old baggage isn’t easy, but it’s possible. Taking back your life from the hands of people who just want to push your head under the water every time you come up for a breath is an enormous task, but it can be done. It will be done. It has to be done. Even if you have to claw your way out of the box you put yourself in, do it. Even if other people tell you it can’t be done, that you’ll never do it, you’ll never change; that’s their jealousy speaking. We owe it to ourselves to not let the envy and pettiness of others keep us from our appointed rounds. You know deep in your heart what you were appointed for. Go achieve that. Stop letting other people’s issues become yours because it’s impeding your way.
I always thought the best advice in the world was “Be excellent to each other.” But you have to never, ever forget to be excellent to yourself. Without that, you’ll never find your way.