Let me let you in in on a little secret. When I was 15 I used to be so jealous of singer Brandy. Yes, Brandy! Miss Sitting Up In My Room, Brandy. Mo to the, E to the, Moesha Brandy. But, it wasn’t for the reasons you would think.
I was in love with her music and enamored with her soulful, raspy voice. I mimicked her fly 90s style and suffered through 12 hours of hair braiding so that I could look like her. But, I was jealous. Not because I wanted to be her, but because I wanted what she had – money. And lots of it.
I remember thinking, ‘Hey, I’m 15, why can’t I afford to buy my mother a house or take my family on a nice vacation?’ And I was dead serious. I wanted Brandy’s wealth so that I could take care of my family. I watched my mother struggle to raise her children on her own and it bothered me that I wasn’t able to change that.
Then, one day while stewing in my jealousy and wishing the absolute worst on Brandy, I heard a small voice inside of me say, ‘Rogan, you’re 15! You’re not supposed to take care of your family. Your family is supposed to take care of you!’ I knew it was God. It put a lot in perspective. It took me a while, but I eventually stopped tripping.
I’m happy to report that I left that jealous spirit in my teenage years.
I know now that jealousy is not only a wasted and dangerous emotion, but a waste of time. It doesn’t change your life for the better, only for the worse. I read somewhere that it’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It can’t happen.
Even though I quickly tamed that green eyed monster, I see it rearing its ugly head every day. In men and women.
I’ve done well for myself over the past few years, mostly because I work hard and stay true to myself. I feel good about cheering other people on and celebrating their accomplishments. If they have something I aspire to have, I ask them how to go about getting it and then I work at it. But, I don’t hate on them. Ever.
Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t feel the need to return the favor. I have had people congratulate me publicly and tear me down behind closed doors. At first, it caused me to dull my shine and not want to achieve so much. Then, I realized I was doing myself a disservice and disappointing my future.
Luckily, I have a good self-esteem, incredible family and friends to support me and a God who counsels me often. But, the hating does hurt. I am human after all. While I don’t need anyone to celebrate me, I don’t want them to tear me down.
I remember being in a restaurant with a few good friends of mine. One of them had just bought a new house and I was so happy for him. For more than a year, he sacrificed and saved for a hefty down payment and would give me updates on his progress. A lot of people thought he was a party animal, which he was. But behind all of that, was a focused individual who knew he wanted to become a homeowner. So, he saved towards it. While chatting over lunch, he casually mentioned that he was going to hold a housewarming party. One of our female friends asked him what for, seeing that he was living with his parents at the time. That’s when he announced that he had bought a home. When he got up to go the bar, she turned to me and said, “how did he get a house?” She spent two minutes bashing him and questioning how he managed to get a house before her. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
An argument ensued between us as I defended him and accused her of being a hater, but it quickly diffused as our male friend returned to the table. It was a turning point and I definitely looked at her differently. I realized that even friends can become enemies if you outperform them.
Battling a jealous spirit isn’t easy. I believe it stems from us not being where we want to be in life. It’s hard to celebrate someone when you’re in a bad place. Hard to be happy for a friend’s new home when you’re being evicted. Difficult to celebrate a coworker’s engagement when our marriage is ending. But, you have to be intentional about supporting others and work day at night to keep that negative spirit at bay.