I Hate Her. Wait, Who is She?: Jealousy, Hatred, and His New Girlfriend

Trang Pak and Sun Jin Dinh, case in point. Coach Carr is not even remotely cute.

It was a banner Wednesday night for me last week. In what led to a late-night spot of weakness wherein which I bought cookie dough, cookie mix, and two kinds of cookies, I learned that an old crush was dating someone who, you know, isn’t me. I told my friends about this and their near-universal reaction was, “She is terrible. He’ll get over her. You’re way, way better.” My friends are the best.

I admit this is what I wanted to hear. I was feeling petty and vulnerable, and I was validated more deeply than I cared to look at by my friends’ assertions of my superiority. That moment in the cookie aisle, my friends knew to text me “You are smarter and prettier” and not “Aww, cute! Good for him!” But why did deriding some girl that I don’t even know palliate me more than being happy that someone in the world has found a connection?

This was not the first time I’ve jumped to insulting another lady. I was taking a magazine quiz a few months ago and there was a question about what you would do if you saw a girl at the bar talking to a guy you thought was cute. I think the answers allowed you to a) Throw your hair around b) Go up and talk to him or c) Do the bend and snap. “Oh no, that’s not what we’d do,” I said to the friend who was giving me the quiz. “We’d make fun of her hideous leggings, take a shot, and go dance with all our girlfriends.” She laughed, so I can’t be the only girl validated by deriding other women.

As a thinking person, I realize that calling people fat isn’t going to make me any skinnier. I guess the fleeting solace gained by insulting one’s competition can be explained by biological imperative. “We are animals,” Barbara Kingsolver wrote in her fantastic book Animal Dreams. “We live our lives around disguised animal thoughts,” says the narrator, a science teacher. I am validated by snarking on another girl because it convinces me that she won’t win the eternal struggle for the superior DNA of a smart, handsome male—or something.

Without getting too philosophical, I’m not purely science. There’s a biological imperative to getting pregnant as a teenager, and I ignored that one just fine. Not to be a pedant, but hating a girl who by any unbiased account is probably a lovely human being accomplishes nothing—not for me, and not for her. I don’t think the ladies always have to stick together, and you can’t come into my Kumbaya circle unless you’ve been invited in writing. But turning my jealousy into irrational, uninformed hatred is doing nothing but giving me scowl lines. (Nor would spelunking her Internet presence for infinite reasons to hate her accomplish anything—not that I haven’t done it before.)

So what’s a better reaction to finding out a guy you’ve liked for a super long time is dating a girl who is super not you? Next time it happens (and let’s be real, there’s always a next time that happens), try to train your thoughts towards the brighter side of finding out the guy you’ve had your eye on only has eyes for someone who dramatically isn’t you.

If those two have found love, I can be happy for them. Realistically, them being together doesn’t make me any less likely to find happiness. By giving myself a few cookies to think about it, I could actually become more hopeful about love by learning this news. I don’t have to love her, but I don’t accomplish anything by hating her. The lessons here are this: You never stop learning from Mean Girls. And that girl—whoever she is—doesn’t warrant my hatred.

But she still can’t come to our Kumbaya circle.

Life, I’ve decided, is about pure and simple happiness

Life is always changing. Ebbing, flowing, creating, destroying, simplifying, complicating. We’re told to expect the unexpected, but generally just end up taking it for granted that ths only thing consistent is inconsistency. We complain and whine and vent, but continue on the same monotonous paths we’ve always been on. We ask for meaning and insist that there has got to be more to it than this. Life can’t just be about getting drunk, being a star student, making the most money or having the most prestigious job. Life, I’ve decided, is about pure and simple happiness.

Revolutionary, right?

We’ve been endowed with this right of pursing happiness, but who among us is actively searching? I know that I’m not. I’ve let myself stay stuck. To stay mad about my college situation. To question my life and my choices and who I am. Where is the happy in that place? It is far too fleeting and I haven’t been doing much to hang onto it.

Happiness, for me,  is in friends, relationships, sunshine, travel, newly printed books, the perfect day for driving with the windows down and the radio blasting. It is in a good hair day, in hard work, in getting the job you wanted or into the program you’ve been dreaming of. It is in the little and the big things — but the little things are overlooked and the big are overwhelming. We’d rather bitch about the unhappy, the things that don’t go our way and the mistakes we make. I’m over the bitching, the anger, the upset, the scowls. Bring on the joy, the peace, the smiles.

Don’t we owe it to ourselves to live in joy? I don’t think people deserve unhappiness. Sure, things will go wrong, and we will feel bad, it is inevitable. But why are we wallowing? I am done asking “why me?” and lamenting my seemingly disastrous circumstances. I’m stepping up. I’m calling myself out on all of my bullshit. I am going to claim my right to pursue happiness.

Why not? Its so simple. Life is not how much money I have or living to the expectations of others. Those things are unimportant. I am important. So I’m going to stop and admire the view, I’m going to blast that song that I love to sing along to. I am going to wear my hair how I please. I will laugh inappropriately. I will travel. I’m going to love. Make mistakes. Fail. Create. Try. I know that the weight of the misery I think I feel is nothing in comparison to the lightness of joy.

So the meaning of life, my life, is happiness. I’m going for it. Will you?