I had a friend who I treated very badly because of my insecurity. I’ll call her Jess.
I was seethingly envious of Jess.
I was certain she wasn’t much into our friendship, so when I later realised how badly I’d hurt her, I was shocked. I never believed she cared enough for me to be able to hurt her.
Jess was the kind of woman that others looked up to, she was intelligent, confident, the life of the party, and never hesitated to ask for what she wanted. She almost always got it.
We went to highschool together, where we were (in my mind) rivals. I don’t think I was even on her radar.
I was a high achiever of the first order, I came top in all my classes, was a prefect, and teachers pet. Jess was the same
– we were both book smart, but she also had charisma, confidence, and the kind of brilliant, out-of-the-box creativity that comes from not stifling your ideas with overthinking and analysis, like I did.
We both got scholarships and went on to study Architecture at one of the top 25 architecture schools in the world,
but I always felt inferior to her,
despite us later becoming friends and her always treating me with kindness and respect.
She was an attention dominator – she didn’t seek attention, but her confidence and originality made her shine above the rest in any situation.
I couldn’t stand it.
Even though I also really wanted her to like me.
Jess was (and no doubt still is) the kind of powerful woman that I now respect, admire and am inspired by.
But back then her powerfulness made me feel that I was somehow lesser.
Even after 3 years of friendship and Jess giving a speech at my 21st, I still believed that she was only friends with me out of politeness and obligation because we’d fallen into the same overachieving architecture friend group.
In 2009 I was set to study my Masters on exchange in Dublin, I couldn’t wait to shine without Jess there to overshadow me.
But to my dismay, Jess didn’t get accepted by her exchange university of choice, so at the last minute,
she told me she would be joining me in Ireland for my year on exchange.
I should have been stoked to have a friend to enjoy the journey with.
I was devastated.
With no emotional self awareness nor skills to calm myself down, I crumbled. I can still remember the gut wrenching intensity of my reaction. Disappointment and fury took over my brain and I couldn’t see through the red haze.
So naturally I decided that was the optimal time to email Jess a detailed response, telling her exactly how I felt and asking her to go to any other Uni except the one I’d chosen.
When she told me that she was deeply hurt by my response, I didn’t believe her. I still couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that she cared enough about our friendship to be hurt by me in any way.
My insecurity ran so deep I was completely blinded by it and I had no idea that anything I did could hurt her.
I apologised, but I handled it badly and avoided addressing it properly because back then I just ignored and distracted myself anything that was too painful.
My insecure behaviour badly damaged not just our friendship, but my friendship with all 5 girls in that group who were also shocked at my behaviour.
Our friendship never recovered.
It’s only now that I’ve learnt to tame my mind and manage my emotions and learnt how to respond wisely to situations rather than reacting blindly that I can look back on some of the carnage that I left behind in my previous friendships and see that all of my terrible behaviour came from having an untamed mind.
A particularly pessimistic, insecure and emotionally reactive mind.
It still punches me in the gut to look back on how much pain and anger my insecurities caused not just me but everyone around me –
if only I’d understood how to process emotions and manage my reactions back then, life would have been a lot less stressful.
For the past year I’ve been working with Smiling Mind, going into schools around rural Victoria to bring the basics of mindfulness into primary and secondary schools where the kids have high levels of anxiety.
The teachers need tools not just to help the kids, but to help reduce their own stress levels. Teachers are under more pressure than ever now, having to support these kids whose minds are spiraling out of control thanks to smartphone addictions and social media.
I wish I had these skills when I was at school.
It’s my mission to bring these practical mind-taming skills into the mainstream,
so that we can all stop creating emotional carnage in our relationships, and stop judging each other and ourselves so harshly.
I believe this is how we’ll make the world way more bloody good.
If you’d like to join us in changing the world, one tamed mind at a time – please share my free 6 day mind-taming challenge with your mates. > projectself.link/6dtd