“You know she used some kind of diet pills to lose all that weight, right? There is no way she did that on her own.”
“I wish she’d stop posting those workout pictures all the time. No one cares about her stupid workout.”
“She must have slept with her boss. There is no way she got that promotion otherwise.”
We’ve all heard it, & we’ve all been guilty of it at times, myself included. We see someone else doing “better” than us, whether it’s related to fitness, wealth, career, family, or something else entirely, & suddenly we feel like we’re not up to par. What’s the natural human reaction when we feel like this? Tear down the other person, of course! They must have “cheated” somehow. They must have found a loophole or an easier route to success, right? Surely they couldn’t have accomplished whatever it is without some kind of “hack,” right? Right?!
What I’m trying to say is that I’ve noticed a trend nowadays of constantly minimizing or apologizing for our own success in life, largely out of fear of creating some kind of jealous backlash from others. I don’t know about y’all but I think this is nonsense. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had some tremendous advantages in life- namely being born in America into a stable, loving family who values education & hard work. That right there is worth more than any wealth or material things. I’m also white & I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that that’s still an advantage in this country (& probably in most of the world). Having said all that, I am sick of seeing people, myself included, feel like they have to tip toe around anything they’ve accomplished for fear of making others feel bad. And worse yet, I’m sick of seeing people tear down others who they feel have accomplished more than they have.
Am I endorsing constantly bragging about your salary or extravagant purchases or anything like that? No, of course not. There are ways to be tactful & there are certainly times in which it’s best to keep things under wraps a bit. For example, if your best friend has just had a miscarriage, now is not the time to be bombarding her with your own pregnancy updates. Duh. I’m all about being compassionate & sensitive to the needs of others, which if you know me in real life, you should understand. On the same token though, if I’ve lost weight & want to share about it because I’m proud of myself, I shouldn’t have to be afraid to do so because it might make someone else feel bad. Or if I’ve gotten a new job, I shouldn’t be afraid to tell people because it might make them doubt their own career choices.
What I’m getting at here is that how we respond to other people’s success says a lot more about US than it does about the other person. If I’m doing well at something & you’re not, I’m not responsible if my success makes you feel bad. On the other hand, if you’re doing better at something than I am, you are not responsible if your success makes me feel bad. Life is not all about feeling good all the time. Sometimes we NEED to feel bad- it’s how we get motivated to do better!
To be clear, I am writing this mainly from the perspective of what I’ve seen & heard from friends & family rather than what people have said about me/my husband. One of the best things about moving out of our hometown & into an urban area where hardly anyone knows us is that people don’t really talk about us. Not enough people here know us, especially outside of work, to really have any interest in gossiping about us. And if anyone gossips about us at home, well- we’re blissfully unaware of it! And my suspicion is there are far more interesting folks than us to talk about there, anyway. (Ha!)
However, because this is such a part of human nature, I’ve also noticed this phenomenon in the media/social media with celebrities, musicians, etc. As you may know, I am a huge fan of rock/metal. One thing I’ve noticed quite often is that when a band starts doing well, people start making excuses for their success. “Well, they knew so & so.” “Wow, they really blew up overnight. They’re so lucky.” What these people are almost always missing is all the YEARS (sometimes decades) of hard work that were poured into the music PRIOR to that success. They didn’t witness those years of the band touring in a van & living off of Ramen & the McDonald’s dollar menu- because the band wasn’t successful yet, so they weren’t even aware of their existence.
The same could be said for all kinds of situations. People want to think that someone just got lucky & that’s why they’ve accomplished XYZ success, but the truth of the matter is that luck is usually only one small component. Is it true that some people are born with certain advantages that others aren’t? Of course. We’d be lying if we said otherwise. But one thing I’ve noticed over & over when I read the stories of successful people (or talk to them in real life) is that they never focus on the obstacles in their way or the reasons why they “can’t” achieve their goals. They do NOT embrace a victimhood mentality even when at times perhaps it could be justified.
So, the next time you see someone achieving their goals & generally being successful in life (however you define that), & you start to feel bad about your own life, I challenge you to ask yourself two things.
- Do I actually want that kind of success? Each of us has a different definition of success so there is no need to be jealous of someone if their version of success doesn’t match your version anyway.
- How can I use this jealousy or these feelings of inadequacy as fuel to light my own fire? Instead of tearing down the other person or wallowing in pity for myself, let me take some time to define my own goals & start taking concrete steps to achieve them.
I will end by saying I am writing this as much to myself as to anyone. I’m over here struggling to lose the same 10-15 lbs I’ve been trying to lose (or losing & then regaining) for 5 years now. (Major face palm!) Sometimes I see other women (or men) who are in better shape than I am, & it is SO EASY to think “Oh well, they must have better genes than I do. They must have more free time than I do,” etc. But you know what? Whether those things are true or not doesn’t change the fact that I still have to do the work if I want to see changes.
Having said that, I’m off to do a workout! Putting some action behind these words!