I have a “friend.”
You know, one of those people you used to hang out with and have been watching from a distance through Facebook or Instagram ever since.
I often look at this person’s life. I look at the smile on their face. I listen to them sing with a sultry and scratchy voice. I watch them dance around in their underwear while cooking in one of those white subway-tiled kitchens, or openly and unapologetically declare their love for their partner after two weeks of dating long-distance.
This person oozes sex. This person oozes confidence. This person has the things that I want. And I can’t stand it.
I frequently find myself wondering, “Is this dislike, or is it jealousy?”
Maybe a little bit of both.
Here’s a little conversation I have with myself when I don’t know if it’s time to let someone go because I no longer like who they are, or when it’s time to look into them as a mirror.
I ask myself a few questions about the person:
If this person were in my town and asked to meet up for lunch, would I smile at the offer, or immediately want to find some way to avoid the meet-up?
This one makes things fairly clear, pretty quickly. If I get the heebie-jeebies thinking about spending time with someone, this generally means that something is up, off, or otherwise askew. It doesn’t mean we need to cut ties, just yet. But it does generally indicate that there’s some additional evaluation needed to figure out where we stand.
Do I know this person well enough to compare their essence with their survival mechanisms?
Essence is basically what a person is when you’ve seen them at their best. For me, my essence would be those parts of me that are silly and playful, confident enough to make an ass of myself, willing to love and support others at any opportunity. At my best moments, I’m calm and collected. In survival mode, I’m pretty much turned on my head—the opposite.
If we know a person well enough to know their essence and a bit of how imbalance might distort those parts of them, we can come to a conclusion about if we are dealing with a dislike of who they are fundamentally, or temporarily. We are able to determine if this person is being “fake” or “genuine.” We can determine if there’s something worth keeping in terms of a connection.
Once I know the answer to those, I look into the mirror.
This is where sh*t can get a little rough. It’s the slight grade on a hike. The warm-up, if you will.
What irks me about this person?
In the case of my “friend,” it is their dancing. Their apparent openness, their always-smiling nature, their ability to move their body like a skinny noodle and flaunt their little, curvy booty in cheeky panties on a screen. How can anyone be so smiley—so in their skin as to just flaunt it like that?
And there it is. How is anyone so smiley? How is anyone so in their skin?
I don’t feel smiley. I avoid looking at, nonetheless flaunting, my skin.
Is my view of this person actually accurate?
In the case of my “friend,” I could look and see that they were, indeed, not always smiley. They were sometimes admittedly bummed. They were sometimes not wearing underwear at all because they had the norovirus and would just have to take off their panties in five more minutes to sh*t again. They were struggling with a pet’s wellness and facing impermanence.
Oh. Sh*t. I guess they’re pretty real.
This next duo of questions is hard as f*ck.
You’ve been warned. It’s the summit of the self-inquiry tour. Ready for it?
Are you being authentic?
Are you in your essence, or living in a reactive survival mode?
I never have to think about the answer to these questions. They strike like lightning. They burn. They suck. But I push on and investigate:
>> I reflect on what I am irked by with my “friend.”
>> I reflect on how these irks relate to my inauthenticity and my essence and survival mechanisms.
I want to dance, and yet I literally feel frozen and as if I’ll be judged for moving in a way that is less sexy, that is less fluid, that is anything but graceful.
I want a body that looks cute dancing.
I want to smile all the time, but I often feel I don’t have much to smile about.
I want to buy a van and live in it, or be a child caretaker and be able to mostly play and explore for my livelihood.
I want to sing on camera and look directly into the lens and not care about a vocal flaw or whether I have a slight bit of a double chin.
No, it is not dislike. Yep, I am jealous.
But jealousy isn’t a bad thing if we allow ourselves to use it as a tool—if we use it as a compass to show us where we would like to grow and improve and develop certain skills or traits.
Once we know the areas where we’re making ourselves small or are stifling our passions or hiding our essence, we can start making plans to help us get out of our uncomfortable li’l comfort zones. SMART goals are a good way to start.
So, find your jealousy. Use it. Rise up from it.
And if you should find legitimate dislike? Unfollow (so much better than unfriend).