High school: Where you dedicate your week days, afternoons, and often your social life. It’s also the place responsible for great memories, maturity, and friendships.
As a teenager, there’s not often a huge arena outside of school where you can make friends. Because of limited resources and time, this usually means that most, if not all, of the friends you hang out with and talk to regularly, are also your peers. There’s many benefits to this. You get to see your friends almost every day without effort, and you can easily be involved in the same extracurriculars. Being at the same school also gives you ample amounts of school related gossip and news to talk about and bond over. Odds are your school friends know your crush too, and can let you know if it’s a good or bad idea.
However, this shared set of interests can also be harmful to relationships. For example, what happens when professional jealousy enters the friendship playing field? It’s an instance where a line has to be drawn, but also such a common situation that often by the time the need for a line is recognized, the friendship has been demolished.
What is professional jealousy in regards to school? It’s the painful culmination of one too many, “What did you get on that test?” and “What’s your GPA?” and “Oh, do you think that’s the only college you can get to?”. It’s when what may seem to be a healthy vested interest in each others lives, i.e. their school work, turns into something painfully competitive. It’s a battleground fought mostly with underhanded comments, and snuck glances at neighbors test scores. And more often than not, it’s the cause of many good friendships eventual ruin.
So how can you protect valuable school friendships against the green monster of envy? Well, it’s no easy task. In fact, this is a situation where goals should be to limit jealousy, and encourage a calm and cool processing of information, instead of completely eradicating the jealousy that can eat away at friendships. That’s because it’s almost, if not completely, impossible to ever truly rid yourself of your more jealous emotions. And that’s not completely a bad thing either. Sometimes jealousy can help you. For example, perhaps all of your friends are doing well in a class, let’s say AP Biology, that you are really struggling in. Your jealousy of their good grades could be the motivation you need to push yourself that extra step, and perhaps even go to them for some help, and raise your own grade. However, without properly acknowledging your jealousy, and taking time to think clearly about how it is tainting your view of your friends, this healthy envy can easily turn into a destructive force that eventually drives you away from your high scoring friends.
So how do you draw the line? How do you encourage a little bit of inter-friend competition, but stay protected from the kind that leaves nothing but rubble and tears in its wake?
Learn your limits. Everyone is different in this aspect, different people are able to handle different levels of envy before they crack. But what you need to do is look over your past friendships, past envious emotions, and current state of mind and figure out how much envy you can take. And once you figure out that amount, make sure you stay a healthy distance away from that. And that’s your line.
This means that if you have a high tolerance, sure, check out your friends test scores if you think that may motivate you to do better. But if you have a low tolerance, don’t look. This is a conversation you can have with your friends as well, tell them that you don’t want to know what their scores were, and tell them that if they ever want to discuss that arena of school life, you would like to be excused first. And if you have a particularly strong natural barrier against the harmful rays of envy, don’t assume that everyone else is operating at the same level as you. Just because you are okay with someone showing you a better score that they got, doesn’t give you the right to throw your high scores in your friends faces. And if you do, prepare to deal with the consequences.
Jealousy in high school is a difficult battle. And with teenage friendships often already on the brink of violent separation, it’s not difficult to understand why envy so often destroys relationships. The best advice here is to be aware. Learn how to recognize your envy, and perhaps even forestall it, and your relationships will grow unhindered by the demolishing nature of jealousy.