The Jealousy of Success by Matt Zielinski, E. Amherst, NY"John, do you want to do something this weekend?""No way. Where are all your new, older friends this weekend?""What is that supposed to mean?""You know what I mean.""Boy, this stinks. Forget this weekend. What ever happened to the friends I grew up with?"Ever since I started playing sports in high school, my old friends from middle school have started to grow farther and farther away from me."Hey, Matt, how does it feel to be playing varsity football when you're only a sophomore?"You know, it's not as cool as I thought it would be. All my friends from previous teams barely talk to me any more now that I am friends with the upperclassmen on the team. I wish they could just be happy for me instead of giving me the cold shoulder. It's almost like they don't acknowledge I'm even here.All my life, I have excelled at football and wrestling, and have received many opportunities that other athletes, (including close friends), haven't. Last year alone, I was asked by the coach to play varsity football as a freshman, visited the University of Syracuse and wrestled on the New York National Team. Through these experiences, I have encountered attitudes toward me and my success - mostly jealousy. Why do people get jealous of others' success? Why can't they be happy for that person? Those who were jealous didn't know how hard I worked or the things I went through to get these opportunities. A couple of times, I questioned whether I wanted to accept these offers because I was scared that people would make fun of me out of envy.The head coach asked me to be a varsity wrestler as a freshman. I was quite successful, with a record of 26 wins and 10 losses. But no matter how well I did, my teammates still gave me a hard time. Now, with a record of 24 wins and zero losses, nothing has changed. My teammates still say that I get lucky and don't deserve to win. When they aren't nipping on me, they're making up excuses, like my weight class is the easiest. Why can't they just be happy for me?Other athletes that compete at my level also have experienced this. While talking with some friends, they stated that they have had similar experiences. People who we thought were close friends were ridiculing us because of our success. Similarly, one told me about the times his friends made fun of his ability with computers."They're envious because they tried to do some programming of their own. When they fell short, they came crawling back to me for help.""Jealousy and envy are things that naturally come with success," says another friend, "It's one of the strongest emotions. I experience this from both sides of the spectrum. People get mad at the fact that I get good grades and that I am also good at soccer. Team members were jealous when I made varsity soccer and the regional team as a freshman." I have tried to figure out why people act this way. People expect others to be happy when they find success and yet they are jealous and rude when someone else (even a friend) gets a break. Is it because people want the joy of success without having to work hard? c
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.