About a month ago, I was faced with a feeling that once had the ability to dictate an entire day of my emotions, thoughts, and made-up conversations, a feeling that could navigate my words and tone in real-life conversations. It was jealousy. In my life, it’s not what others have, their money, resources or status that I get jealous over. I will however, get swept away by the relationships others have with one another. I'm not an all-around insecure person; I'm actually quite confident and secure in who I am--except when it comes to my friendships.
Like many, I see photos of friends online, doing fun things together, and my insecurity begins to speak to me. If you don't know me, then you don't know that I have this unnatural desire to be with all of my friends at all times--to keep the meals and conversations, the games, and the chill times going on forever. If I had it my way, all of my friends would live in the same neighborhood (read—building) and we'd be inseparable. If you were to look back at old journals from about 9th grade, you'd see that even then I wrote about these desires. Totally unrealistic and unhealthy, I know.
I hate romantic comedies and think that they're an incredibly unhealthy source of entertainment. I think they set an unfair and unrealistic expectation on couples and especially on marriages. Like really, I hate them and they make me want to throw up. I, however, did not always have same discipline for my own rom-com equivalent. When it came to movies and shows about friends and families who were dysfunctional, but stuck together, lived near one another, and ate what seemed like every meal together, I was sucked in immediately. Over time, I had to make conscience decisions to stop watching these sorts of movies, knowing that these Hollywood expectations weren’t fair for the people I cherished most in my life nor for myself. Did I sit there thinking, “Geeze, why can’t we just be like those characters on TV?” Literally? No, subconsciously—absolutely. You can only begin imagine how much 10 seasons of FRIENDS played into my delusions. I have a blog about hanging out in coffee shops for heaven’s sake.
When it came down to it however, this behavioral change didn’t change how I really felt. Repeating mantras like, “I am loved, I am valued, I have worth,” have definitely helped me get through some days, but only in areas where I had already dealt with the root causes of my insecurities. Cutting out movies and repeating, “I will not be jealous,” would do nothing in an area where I wasn’t willing to go deeper.
While I sat there thinking about this part of myself, I began to go to that hard place—to the “where does this trait really come from?” place. I started thinking about friends I had in college and how I'd get jealous then I thought back to high school and how I was insecure in those friendships too. As I looked back further and further, I began to see that these insecurities stemmed far deeper than I’d initially thought.
When I began to see that the problem was not one I could just recognize, accept, and therefore…just stop feeling, I was able to see that the problem was really a systemic one. And isn't this how most character flaws are in our lives? The things we get upset about or offended by in our own lives aren't really about that thing or that person at all, but rather about something deeper that we may have yet to recognize or at least, have yet to deal with from our pasts?
I don't yet know all the sources of my jealousy, but I'm grateful for further understanding and growth as the years go on. When it comes down to it, I know in my heart that I really don't like or want to feel betrayed by my friends, as though they were specifically out to hurt me by spending time with one another. This is what I mean when I say the world doesn't revolve around me.
The more I acknowledge and heal in this area of my life, the more I see that most of the jealousy stems from ideas in my head that are completely self-centered. To believe that my friends sit around thinking up ways to hurt me, make me out to be a lot more important than I actually am, and if my thoughts about my friendships are self-centered, then I can’t even begin to a good friend. By recognizing these things, by going down to the sources, and by mending the wounds from my past, I am able to be the loving person I want to be. I am able to not only cherish time I spend with one or two friends, but even cherish when they get to do the same.
I really can't say enough about how grateful I am to those who have stuck by me over the years. And insecurities aside, I do absolutely love the meals we share and the times we do all get to be together. For that reason, I really appreciate this week's featured coffee shop, where there is room for the whole gang to come together and share a drink or a meal. They do have two locations, but I'm specifically referring to the one below:
World Ground Cafe // 3726 MacArthur Blvd. // Oakland
(Please do not assume that this post is reflective of the thoughts or philosophies of the above featured shop. Thank you all for joining me.)
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
-A letter from Paul to the Ephesian followers of Jesus