(broad)ject self #3: Self-Care When...You're Jealous

It’s been sneaking up on me for a long time. The first pregnancy announcements six and seven years ago barely registered on the jealousy scale. I was in my 20s, I was in serious crisis about what to do about my career, and we weren’t even thinking about getting married yet. As more friends got married, more friends started having babies and the feelings intensified slightly. Then, I was only jealous that those people were ready to contemplate having kids, as we were so not there. Even as recently as this spring, when I had just taken a contract for my first job post-MBA, it was really not a big deal because I kept telling myself, “I need to have been in a permanent job for a year before we can start trying”. And then suddenly, I got the permanent job, the clock starting ticking, and every pregnancy announcement was this unexpected gut punch of envy. For the longest time, I felt like I couldn’t even have contemplated the idea, so there was no point in being jealous. But now that I could contemplate it, that there was a plan and a timeline in place even, it was harder to brush off that green monster.

We don’t like to talk about being jealous of other people’s good fortunes (or in this case, biological compatibility), because it’s unseemly. It reflects badly on us, as if simultaneously admitting we’re unhappy with our own lots and that other people have something better than we have. So maybe we bring it up to our significant other (who may or may not be able to empathize or sympathize) or we silently stew, feeling worse by the minute. 

There are only two ways to deal with jealously, to my mind. You can either put all your energy to getting the thing that the other person has that you want, damn the torpedoes, or you can count your blessings and remind yourself you have a plan. Obviously I subscribe to the latter, or else I would have had a massive wedding and many children by now. You also need an ally, who is not your partner or parent, who you can count on to have your back, probably because they’re in the same place you are.

I’m lucky to have a couple of close friends who want kids but are also not quite ready, for whatever reason. So when I’m on the receiving end of a pregnancy announcement, once I’ve offered my sincere congratulations, my “in case of emergency” self-care protocol is to text one of them and they will instantly provide a mental hug and say the right thing. After that reassurance, I just want to hunker down and feel sorry for myself for a little while. And you know what? A short pity party is a perfectly acceptable element of self-care because a pity party is acknowledging that something happened that made you feel crappy. You can’t remind yourself of all the awesome and wonderful things you have in your life if you haven’t acknowledged the gut punch first, because otherwise you’ll just get seriously pissy and dismissive of your accomplishments (trust me).

Then, if it’s something you truly want, either make a plan or remind yourself of the plan you have in place. Friend got an amazing promotion? What an awesome kick in the butt to update your resume and take on an extra project at work! Someone bought a house? Sit down and talk about where you really see yourself in this real estate market and what you need to do to get there.

We should never make those people announcing good news feel badly about their success, but it is totally acceptable to need to take a little bit of time to make our private peace with it. If you need a green monster ally? You know where to find me.

Self-caringly yours,

Sian