“And girl, you too, you are so young and beautiful and so successful.” – Ariana Grande
For Allyson, Lydia, Ray-Ven, and Victoria
I was in a girl gang in elementary school. We were called The Panthers, a knock-off version of The Cheetah Girls, and you could argue that I was the leader. Remember how I talked about how Type A I am in Part 3? Well, I was a whole 9-year-old keeping a documented folder of group meetings, officers, and agendas—I was clearly destined to become a teacher. I don’t necessarily remember what those meetings consisted of. I mean, honestly how much and what kind of business did 4th grade girls have to discuss? I do, however, vividly remember the day we kicked Christa out of the club.
It was a warm, sunny day at Northside Elementary School. We were standing under the huge Oak tree that was smack in the middle of the playground. I don’t know what crime Christa committed against The Panthers, but it must’ve been bad because she was voted out unanimously and expeditiously, sulking away from the group while the rest of us stood watching like The Plastics on the Mean Girls movie poster (later that year, Christa would steal my Beyonce CD and Gameboy SP from my backpack. Payback’s a mother!).
Girls haven’t always had the best rap when it comes to friendship. We’ve been labeled as vindictive, jealous, and catty. We tend to hold grudges over the most minute things, still holding onto beef even after it’s long been grilled up and eaten. We’ve shown more grace to boyfriends than to our homegirls. We choose sides. We exclude each other. We gossip. Sometimes, we’re just flat-out mean to each other for no rhyme or reason.
Women are truly forces of nature, and I believe it starts in our girlhood.
I see it every day as someone who works with 10 and 11-year-old girls. What names do you think I leave as responsible students for subs? Who do you think I believe could run my classroom if I randomly passed out one day? Who do I trust to run my errands around the school? The girls, honey!
On the flipside, girl power is just as great a force when it’s used for evil as opposed for good. Nah, greater even. “Girl drama” can be an absolute cancer to classroom culture and beyond. I can’t imagine what my relationships with my friends would have been like had I had a smartphone and access to social media in 5th grade (that weird MySpace account I had with the Happy Bunny profile pic does NOT count).
But it doesn’t really matter if women in their 20s and 30s today didn’t have social media accounts back then because the behaviors are still present today. Think about all the shady tweets, post-and-deletes, and comments grown women make on social media daily that end up strewn all over The Shaderoom. That’s nothing but wounded inner children who never grew up and learned proper conflict resolution.
One thing I’ve learned about adulthood is that peer pressure doesn’t end in your teens. We might be pressured to go to school, start an amazing career, get a second degree, find “the one,” get married, have babies, travel the world, etc. just because we see our girls doing it. And what happens if we aren’t able to keep up? Before you know it, tiny claws of jealousy start gnawing at you and you’re jealous of your friends because they have what you want.
At this point you might be saying, “But, Jess. How can I be jealous of my friends? That’s not possible!” Girl, bye. If you’re trying to tell me that in this social media driven-take no days off-grind, hustle, repeat world we’re living in that you’ve never not once been jealous of a friend or acquaintance, I don’t believe you. We’re all human, and that’s ok.
But what’s not ok is kicking it with your girl, kiki-ing all up in text messages together, eating and drinking at her house, and flooding her social media with “yaaaas, Queen!” comments while the whole time YOU JEALOUS!
Because here’s the true tea: you can’t be friends with someone you’re jealous of! Not a true friend, anyway.
While being secretly jealous of a friend may not necessarily be detrimental to them, it will be to you. How happy can you be if you continue to spend time with someone you’re secretly envious of? By doing this, you’re setting yourself up to become even more resentful of this person, their lifestyle, and their blessings, which could ultimately lead to you hating them. Or, you’ll find yourself in a secret, one-way competition which you’ll lose, 1. Because it takes two to compete, and 2. Competing against a friend is very ashy, and we don’t do that.
This can all be avoided, though! If you get to feeling jealous of a friend, do not pass go! Follow these pieces of advice:
If your sis is popping, instead of getting jealous ask her, “How?!” Say she goes back to school and you want to as well. Ask her for tips on financial aid and maintaining a work/life balance. What if you have another friend who’s boo’d up and you’re trying to get chose, too? Ask if she knows any other single people you might be interested in or where to meet people. Somebody just paid off their student loans or bought a house? – say it with me, “How, Sway?!” This is not in an attempt to compete with your friend, but rather signals a sign of respect that says, “You popping, sis! How can I be popping, too?”
Make sure that you’re not vicariously living through someone else. If you’re jealous of a friend, odds are she’s on her grind living her best life while you’re stuck at the house, glued to that phone, scrolling through your socials thinking, “Why not me?” Girl. Pick up a book, go to Hobby Lobby for some easels and paint, organize your closet, go for a walk, go grocery shopping, turn on Netflix, go check the mail, do SOMETHING to bring you back to yourself. Take greater ownership of your life. What do you really like to do and what do you really want? Do you want it because they have it, or do you want it because you want it? Read that twice because I just said something.
It’s 100% ok to have a “if she can, I can” attitude. You know that saying that goes something like, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, find another room”? The same can be said for your squad and their accomplishments. How bored would you be if you were the only one in the friend group doing her thing and being about her business? To grow, you need to surround yourself with constant sources of inspiration, and there’s no doper feeling than having your girls be that source of inspiration.
Choosing inspiration over jealousy in your friendships sets you on the path to helping your girls and yourself become more than you could have ever imagined. Rewrite the rap; when ladies and girls come together for good, we can set the world on fire. Let’s gang up for good and make something shake, ladies!
X’s and O’s,
Catch up with Part 3 here!