Office jealousy is like the sour friend who sits next to you all day, reminding you of all the reasons to be bitter.
For me, that friend came early. I'll never forget stewing with jealousy at my first job as I watched my co-workers get promoted. When the management praised them, I fought the urge to chuck my computer out the window. Can you tell I'm an insanely competitive person?
The culture of that office was fairly competitive, but pressure to succeed exists in even the most relaxed work environments. Everyone takes note. Who's getting promoted or challenged with more opportunities? Who's brown-nosing their way to the top?
Eventually, I realized silently despising my coworkers for finding success before I did wasn't getting me anywhere. It was actually holding me back.
Office jealousy is rooted in self-esteem. After all, it comes from comparing ourselves to other people. Jealousy takes form when you're looking at someone else's life, thinking, “Wow, he's so much better at his job than I am,” or, “She's so lucky she had the connections to get that promotion.”
I was memorably angry when a female co-worker got promoted, especially because we'd started at the same level within a few days of each other. Six months later, she got a neat salary bump and a shiny new title to boot, while I barely kept my head above water.
I was so concerned with what my co-worker had that my performance suffered a little and I began to feel discouraged. Didn't I deserve something for the hard work I put in? I wasn't busting ass for radio silence from my supervisors.
I'm as nosy as I am jealous, so I started asking my co-worker questions about her prior work experience. When she told me about everything she'd accomplished, it became clear she had three times the experience I did. Of course she got promoted quickly.
That all happened over a year ago. These days, my co-workers' professional achievements don't put my stomach in knots. Instead, I use them as a tool pushing me toward my own professional success.
When you look at someone successful, you only see the results of their hard work. You have to realize the person next to you who's getting promoted put in plenty of hours you didn't witness.
Think of it like social media: People like sharing positive, beautiful posts instead of boring followers with the details of their diets or intensive workout regimens. When I landed my first job, I posted a status boasting my achievement instead of explaining how I skipped class and drove eight hours just to sit through several rounds of interviews.
Furthermore, it's important to remember successful people don't start off that way. Whenever I feel that nauseating envy bubble up inside me, I remind myself not to compare my beginning to someone else's middle. Just because I may not immediately get recognition for my hard work doesn't mean it will never happen.
I mused about what had fueled my envy. Was it her flawless phone skills? Her seamless email organization? Asking these questions helped me figure out the specific skills I needed to develop, then set goals for myself.
I used my jealousy to add value to myself as an assistant and, as a result, my focus shifted from being jealous to actually improving.
You can apply the same idea to bigger life goals, too. It's common to be jealous of that girl from college who blogs for a living and moves to a new country for six months because she can. Meanwhile, you're worried about how many hours you're sitting at your desk per day.
If you envy someone who lives a certain lifestyle, why not make it your reality? I'm not talking about quitting your job today, but rather thinking about what needs to happen to reach that goal. Living your dream lifestyle isn't impossible. It takes work, confidence and patience -- don't let jealousy stop you.
After more than a year of working as an assistant, I quit to work for a larger company in a role that was exactly what I wanted. Maybe someone was jealous of me when I made that move, but they didn't see the years of internships, hours of networking and the overtime.
I told myself my time would come if I kept working hard to improve, and it did. Take it from me: Instead of being jealous, be inspired.