Queered & Careered: Tackling the Monster of Career-Envy

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Stop. Sigh. Ugh.

There she goes again living her best life. This time wearing a killer power suit. This time gushing about the new promotion she just got. And you’re in bed eating Pringles. So you hide the Pringles. Like she can see you.

For the most part, you mind your own business. You live your life thinking about you and your needs, and you don’t often feel jealous about other people’s success.
But… every now and again, the little green-eyed monster sits on your shoulder and whispers, “You’re not enough.” And you have to deal with that shit. And it’s annoying and unproductive. I know this because I’ve been there sooooo many times myself. No one is immune to career-envy so it’s important to have some strategies to deal with it when it comes your way.


Notice Your Career-Envy Patterns. Stop Them in Their Tracks

When you start to feel envious, the words that come to your mind and the reactions that you have are hard-wired patterns you’ve been feeding your whole life. In order to change these patterns, you need to:

  1. Discover what they are – note what you say and do when you are envious.
  2. Resolve to change the patterns.

If you usually find yourself shutting down and running to your room to cry when you start to feel envious, decide to go out and take a walk instead or talk to a friend about what you’re feeling. Self-awareness is always the first step when it comes to making positive changes.

Recognize That Envy Has Nothing to Do With the Other Person and Has EVERYTHING to Do With You

When we are in the middle of an envy pattern, seeing someone else excel professionally or personally, it is easy for us to become spiteful. “Like, we get it, you’re amazing – can you not post so much about it, Martha?” When we start to become bitter, remember this: Your feelings of envy have absolutely nothing to do with the other person! They are almost always about you and how you feel about yourself.

When I was in undergrad, I remember feeling so jealous that my friend got an amazing internship at a company I wanted to work for. Though I didn’t let on that I was jealous, and I actively celebrated her success, the next few days were tough as I flipped through a carousel of self-loathing thoughts like “You’ll never be good enough” and “Wow she’s so much better than you.” After a few days of my pity party, I finally realized how silly I was being… especially because I never applied to that internship in the first place!

The truth is I never considered applying for the internship because I assumed I didn’t have a chance. My envy was a direct result of my unwillingness to believe that I deserved an opportunity and I realized how much my envy had nothing to do with my friend and had everything to do with my low self-efficacy. This is the place you should always start when you feel yourself turning green. Rather than hating on someone else’s success, ask yourself first: What am I feeling about myself right now? What does this person have that I can’t also get without hard work and determination?

Let Those Feelings to Be a Motivator

My favorite way of combating envy is allowing it to motivate me! Not only is this a healthy way to beat envy, it is a way that ultimately leads to your growth and success. If someone gives an amazing presentation at work and you start feeling envious, that’s a sign you need to brush up on your presentation skills. Invest in a few books, take a class, and reflect on what made their presentation so effective so that the next time you can own the room just like they did!

If you’re really feeling brave, you can go one step further and ask the person you’re envious of for advice and guidance on your career! Though Tony Robbins is not everyone’s cup of tea, I live by one of his quotes: “Success leaves a blueprint.” If you’re envious of someone, ask them who inspires them. Read who they’re reading and listen to similar podcasts. This is not about copying someone else. This is about using someone else’s blueprint to empower yourself and get to where you’re going. And, who knows? Maybe you’ll find some awesome new influencers who will inspire you to step into your own power.


Jealousy will always be there. There will always be someone that you or society perceives to be better, smarter, stronger, prettier, more competent or more popular than you. The greatest thing we can do is get curious about our jealousy – become friends with it, and gently tell it to be productive or get going so we can focus back on our own journey.

What are some ways that you combat career-envy or envy in general? Do you have a story of a time when you successfully overcame career-envy or used it to your advantage?

Tiara’s six word memoir is “born with questions in her mouth.” By day, she works as a sassy, affirmation-card-wielding Career Coach. After hours, she is a creative writer, book reviewer (@booknerdspells), and unofficial bubble tea ambassador. Tiara writes angsty fiction and essays about intersectionality, mermaids, reading, spirituality, being queer, and traveling. She hates beets and people who touch her hair.

Tiara has written 16 articles for us.

5 Comments

  1. Thank you! I love this series, keep up the good work!! This in particular in the creative field is just such a common experience… Will take your advice to heart definitely.
    Could you maybe give advice on how to navigate when you start a freelance gig with a friend? What would you recommend, what are some dangers / pitfalls…

    • Hi N. I love that this was helpful. You’re so right about the specific career-envy that can come in creative fields. That is a great idea for a topic and I’d love to dive in and give some guidance on that in a future column. My initial thoughts include: good communication skills, setting mutual goals, separating work from the friendship, and finding ways to hold each other accountable throughout the process.

  2. I love this series so much! Keeping this in my back pocket — “ The greatest thing we can do is get curious about our jealousy – become friends with it, and gently tell it to be productive or get going so we can focus back on our own journey.”

  3. Thank you for writing about this. As someone in a highly competitive field that also has a fairly regimented structure (“first you do this, then you do that, then voila success!”), I can see some of myself in both sides. Lately, when I find myself wanting to brag, I try to look around and see who I could genuinely connect with instead. I’m finding that there’s a certain humility to mentorship and that cuts right through any tricks the ego tries to play.

    • I love that- what a great point! “There is a certain humility that comes with mentorship.” I would add “should” come with mentorship just because I know sometimes mentorship is done in a way where the mentor can project their dreams and goals onto the mentee *sigh.

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