Here’s a secret: I don’t know what self-confidence is.
I’ve just about figured out that self-esteem DOESN’T involve bowing ostentatiously to your reflection and purring “I ESTEEEEEEM you,” like a cartoon grand vizier, and that self-love ISN’T about stalking yourself on Facebook.
Basically I fudge through life trying to not sweat the small stuff, and practice good emotional accounting. Frequently I fail.
So it seems unfair that self-confidence, which you need to do almost ANYTHING -- pancake flipping; romantic shenanigans; most things involving PowerPoint -- is so elusive, and yet someone just has to throw a heavy-lidded glance at your intended, or be better than you at something, and suddenly jealousy is curdling your insides.
I get it. Look, I’m basically a female Danny Devito lookalike. Daily I castigate myself for not being some whip-smart, finger-snapping hybrid of Salma Hayek and Caitlin Moran, AND I’m only about two feet tall.
Believe me, I’m jealous of EVERYONE. But it’s BECAUSE I’m so practiced that I’ve developed coping strategies* for jealousy, especially:
Rivalry; your partner having fun with people who aren’t you; that weird morbid curiosity about your partner’s exes -- where it’s like they’re cheating on you IN THE PAST, before they even met you, INSIDE YOUR HEAD.
That quick and competent colleague with really great taste in trousers who makes you feel like a bag of thumbs. A friend achieving one of YOUR dreams while all your congratulations turn to ashes in your mouth.
AMORPHOUS, ALL-ENCOMPASSING WHY-AM-I-THE-ONLY-PERSON-HERE-WITH-FOOD-DOWN-HER-FRONT-OH-GOD-IT’S-USELESS-I-MIGHT-AS-WELL-DIE JEALOUSY
Probably the hardest jealousy to describe, or suffer, and generally occurs when a more specific type of jealousy has gone unchecked. Or just because it’s Tuesday.
I am jealous of anyone who can use chopsticks without looking as though they’re pruning a hedge which is running away from them
This is what I try to do*:
1: Identify it
Why does the size 6 woman on the next treadmill cause tiny infarctions of self-loathing in my heart? Why does someone’s published book make me want to shred my own intestines? Why does the mention of a boyfriend’s ex momentarily send me spiralling like James Stewart in Vertigo?
Because I’m not a size 6; I haven’t published a book; and apparently I’m so insecure that I’m intimidated by someone from the past who WORE CLOGS and LIKED KULA SHAKER.
2. Isolate it
Now you’ve recognised it, stop indulging your jealousy. Or it’ll bloat out and distort reality, and in three days someone will find you in a heap on the floor, wailing “but SHE has EYEBROWS.”
3. Learn from it
Perhaps you don’t want to be a size 6, or write a novel about an opossum called Jason. But you might want to be THAT SORT OF PERSON. You might not want to revive 1990s psychadelia, but if you feel something about your relationship doesn’t measure up to some perceived past ideal, look it straight in the eye.
Your jealousy is a message from yourself: “I WANT THIS.” So prioritise making it -- or a version of it -- happen. At the risk of quoting Rachel Weisz, YOU’RE WORTH IT.
4. Attack it with a BAZOOKA
Jealousy has served its purpose, so jettison it from your psyche. After all, it is a BITCH. Remember that time it made you feel bad about your innie bellybutton at school and you cried for a whole evening? KILL IT WITH FIRE.
5. Drink gin, dance around the house in your pants
Jealousy is reductive, destructive, and makes you feel hideous and nothingy. But today you BEAT IT, so celebrate! And, in case at any point you find yourself losing the faith, here is a picture of me riding a UNICORN and carrying a BAZOOKA:
Tattoo it to your HEART.
* This is by no means a comprehensive guide to beating jealousy -- I am not a psychologist, a proctologist, a psychiatrist, podiatrist, life coach or megabus. I am just an Earth human and I’m just sharing what I do. What do you do?
**Jealousy, not lipstick/collar suspicion. I am not Joey Greco from Cheaters (unfortunately).