I’m threatened by other people’s success. I unfollow and defriend people on social media if I feel they are ahead in life than me. I’ve written about my lack of success as a twenty-six-year-old, my consistent need to compare, and my deep rooted insecurity in just being adequate. I’ve always been this way since I could remember.
A huge part is being raised in an immigrant Asian (Filipino) family. They show their love by being critical and having high expectations. Your success is measured if you’re slender, tall, have good grades, been accepted in a named college (Ivy league), and have a high paying job. It’s a hard checklist to complete. I’m neither tall,nor thin, and my grades were above average by not over average for highly selective schools. I went to a wonderful Jesuit school, but if my grades and SAT scores were higher, my parents probably prefer if I attended Northwestern or Stanford.
Feeling threatened by other people’s success grew bigger post-college. I’ll admit it. I was naive and green after I graduated with my Bachelors. I thought the world was going to bow down to my feet because I had a degree. You’re going to earn money right away and higher than those who didn’t go to college. Wrong! What they should have said is, you’ll earn more money in the long run, but in the short run, you’ll still be broke from debt and struggling. Also, despite your very expensive degree, there will be people who didn’t go to college and will be earning more money than you. That was the most painful for me. I worked so fucking hard, why are they earning more money than me? Why!!!! Why?! These people already have families, houses, and kids! Where am I? Where’s my recognition? Self-pity run amok. In some ways it was great I was hit with reality because how can I measure hard work? Is going to college harder than working a 9-5 sales job or is it the other way around? Am I better or more entitled than the next person because I went to college in comparison to someone who went to straight to work? Also, it’s not about hard work rather it’s about efficient work. I worked hard but didn’t always follow protocol. I always preferred my way over the supervisor’s way.
I fear other people’s success because I feel I’m worth something if I’m surrounded by trophies, praise, and recognition. The thing is external validation, no matter what form, is fleeting. I logically know that, but emotionally, I’m still growing into it.