There were so many sweet things that came from writing love notes to my girlfriends a few weeks ago. It went better than I had imagined and the things I walked away with will stay with me for a long time. That was unexpected, to be honest.
As we sat around the table sharing our valentines with each other, we talked about our experience writing them. My wise friend Jessi said this was like a writing exercise in that she had to sit down and think through what she wanted to say. I said it was for me too, that I wanted to be very intentional with my words so it took a lot of time to come up with just the right things to say.
It took me a few days to write my eight letters. I would write a few and then feel spent, so I’d wait a day or two and do a few more. Jessi said she tried to think of what she was proud of each of us for, but it started out in a place of jealousy. She had to figure out what she was jealous of, work her way through those feelings of not wanting to be jealous of her friends, and then write out what everyone was good at, what she saw as our strengths, and tried to be happy for us instead of envious.
I couldn’t have summed up better what writing those cards was like for me. I didn’t even realize what I was doing until Jessi said it out loud.
The thing is I don’t want to be a thirty-something adult who is jealous of my friends. I want to root my friends on and feel elated when good things come their way. I want to be excited and celebrate their successes and champion hard for them. But I first had to admit that sometimes I’m jealous of them and then figure out how to get rid of it.
There will always be people that have what I want. Or what I think I want. But I don’t want to be jealous of my friends. I want to be cheerleaders for them and happy, so happy, for them.
Their stories are different from mine, we can’t all be doing the same things and be good at the same things, that’s not the way it works. And I don’t want to ruin relationships because I can’t get a grip on my jealousy. I don’t want to miss out on encouraging and uplifting others because I can’t handle my own insecurities, my own sense of never being fulfilled or having enough.
Man, what an eye-opening conversation, what an eye-opening exercise in learning about myself and my mess. I don’t want to be jealous, I know it robs me of so much joy. It clouds my vision and makes me blind to the things I have and instead lets me focus on all the things I don’t.
I don’t want to live like that.
Recently my friend Laura put together a women’s writing group. We meet once a month to talk writing (nerd alert: I LOVE to talk about writing) and to support and encourage each other. I love the idea of this. But I’ve had to deal with some insecurities to get to be excited about it. Writing is a very solitary thing and inviting others in can be scary. Being around talented people can be scary. But I have prayed hard that I won’t be jealous of these women. I want nothing but joy to come from our interactions. I want to be around smart, successful, powerful women and not feel like we’re against each other.
I don’t want to live like that.
So that’s what I’m doing with intention now. Being purposeful, happy, and proud of my friends, joyful they are strong where I am weak and delighted that they are brilliant in areas I can only dream about. I have such talented friends, guys. I am such a lucky girl.