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Jealousy and Feeling Threatened: Why am I not beyond this?

In my professional life, I sometimes get a little (or a lot) overwhelmed by jealousy, envy, and feeling threatened by others. Looking back, these feelings - and how I reacted to them - were super duper not helpful.

I’m in a new set of professional relationships now - and the feelings are coming back. I’ve resolved to not act on the feelings, but also not to beat myself up for having them. At the same time, I don’t want my jealousy/envy to interfere with my professional relationships with the objects of my envy/jealousy and I don’t want to act out or express feelings that will make me look like I’m not a good, positive, supportive colleague! That’s not who I want to be, and not how I want to be seen!

I’m in a place (literally and figuratively) where I am surrounded by talented, smart, passionate women. This is a very good thing. But sometimes, I find myself feeling jealous/envious of their successes, and this has a tendency to make me feel worse about myself, and as a result, I’m less supportive of them. This is so not helpful! I want to be among women who are doing great things - it makes them great colleagues and it makes it a good environment! So, it shouldn’t threaten me.


I get jealous too when I see my mentor supporting, praising and being really generous with others. But, again - this is what I like about her. She works hard to mentor junior colleagues to make sure our subfield has strong, smart, positive researchers in it! This is really good!

I know, intellectually, that if someone else gets a grant, a publication, or is praised - that it has no meaning for my own worth. I’m not less good just because someone else did a great job! I don’t have to be the only superstar - there can be a bunch of us!

Also, conversely, if my work gets critical feedback, it doesn’t mean I am the worst ever and doomed to fail and never get my PhD or achieve my life’s dreams. It doesn’t mean that everyone is disappointed in me and will give up on working with me - it just means I have more to learn, and hopefully I can learn it.

I know for me, some of this I come by naturally - my mom was extremely jealous of my relationships with women and girls when I was growing up - she’d criticize them constantly and work to end the relationships (which - given that I am gay - has really created some issues in my relationships with women—but that is a whole other story!!!).


I know competition between women is an issue - or seems like an issue. I feel like we are somehow told that women have to compete with other women. It’s like there’s this undercurrent of belief that the world is such a zero sum game that only one of us can come on top. Does anyone else struggle with this?

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