Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.
Day 7 of 31- Jealousy
When I was in junior high school, I went through a tough time. Socially, I was smart enough to be considered a nerd but cool enough to not be completely shunned by the cool kids. The school district I went to was a mostly middle class district with a healthy portion of some low-income families mixed in. By the time I reached the seventh grade, I had a healthy helping of girls that would make my life miserable in school and after school as well. It was customary that a certain group of girls would somehow initiate other girls by fighting them. I had the displeasure of being one of the chosen ones. At that time, I was vying for Ms. Junior America here in NY and my face was posted up in most of our neighborhood establishments because they were sponsoring me. Full disclosure, I wasn’t a fighter. My parents were strict about school and so I focused on my studies and pretty much kept to myself and the small nucleus of friends I had at the time.
I fought every week for the majority of my 7th grade year. It got so bad that my grandparents had to come from Queens to where we lived in Long Island to pick me up after school just so I wouldn’t have to fight. I didn’t understand right away why I was the one to fight until the perpetrators started spilling the beans during the fights. I would hear “you think you’re cute because you have long hair” or “I don’t care if you were Miss Junior America, I will cut your face.” It took a while, but the conclusion was these girls were jealous of me and who I was becoming. I did well in school, was well-liked, came from a great home and had things going for myself. In contrast, these girls that often tried their hand with me were terrible in school, disruptive in class, pretty much all came from troubled homes and other unfortunate circumstances.
I was so disgusted with the fighting that I remember telling my parents I wanted to go back to Queens to go to school. I couldn’t imagine going through high school with these girls. The answer was “no”, of course. However, something kind of miraculous happened- I got tough. I hated junior high school for what I went through, but the truth is after 7th grade no one would dare come to fight me. After being antagonized daily, I decided I was not going to be a victim anymore and I fought back.
The end of junior high school was a blast and high school was pretty much smooth-sailing. I had one or two try to test me in 9th grade and they were sorry they tried. Beyond that, I went on to excel academically and no one was happier than me when I graduated and moved on to college.
In hindsight, this was an important time in my life. It was the beginning of a series of tests where people would try to beat me down and instead I would come out swinging. Friends of mine laugh when they hear me speak and find out I have an edge to me. I always tell them this story and say I had to become tough to survive. From my first job until now, I have been tested in a number of ways professionally- only this time the bullies have grown up and they have leadership positions in companies. What has never changed is “me”. I show up unapologetically to do the best job possible. Sometimes it was appreciated by my bosses and often times I was seen as a threat. When the green-eyed bandits entered once again- the 13 year old Janine is activated with a dash of wisdom and I come out swinging.
Being green with envy and/or being jealous is a hell of a thing. It robs you of honing in on the things you excel at. It impedes your progress, because all of your focus is on what others are doing. Jealousy is certainly experienced by both males and females, but I have to say women have the men beat in this regard. From the playground to the corner office, we are our own worst enemies when it comes to advancing the women’s movement. Beating each other down is just one of the ways we undermine our wants and needs for equality. If I see another woman doing something I would like to do, it’s empowering to me. It doesn’t even dawn on me to hate her or wish her bad. Hence why, it has always been a mystery to me why some women dwell in this emotion of jealousy. It’s an ugly and counterproductive way to be.
Here are some other things I have learned about jealousy:
1) You are not the problem. Compromising who you are to make the jealous party feel better is unfair and unnecessary. You deserve to be who you are without repercussions (it took me a long time to figure this one out).
2) The root of jealously is admiration. On some level, the person who despises you sees things in you they wish they could be.
3) If it walks, talks, and sounds like jealously- it is jealously. I never like to jump to conclusions where humans are concerned. I would often see signs and try to talk myself out of the reality that there was a jealousy problem. When I was honest with myself the answer was apparent.
I’m fairly sure there are less egregious ways I could have become the woman I am today. I don’t think anything that has happened in my life so far is without purpose. As such, I choose to remember this time in my life as a time when I rose above the green-eyed bandits and found my strength.
Czarina’s Lesson: We cannot expect to be equal, when we are stepping on each other; rather than uplifting one another.