Jealousy and Gratitude

The other day, I met up with a friend who works at Google. Everything was great, until she told me she’s going to get triple pay for 10 months because her division is being sold to another company.

The jealousy hit me hard – that’s a $200k-$300k windfall. Just for being in the right place at the right time.

We met in college and had similar career trajectories – the only difference was she joined a startup that was acquired by Google months after she signed her offer, while I joined a startup that imploded.  She had no idea her startup would’ve been so successful, just as I had no idea my startup would crumble.

When her startup was acquired, she got $80k after cashing out her options, the opportunity to work for Google without going through the grueling interview process, and now $200k-$300k in this new acquisition.

As for me? I had a stressful year. When my company would fail to make enough money, management would blame engineers like me and fire them with no warning. I also found out I was being grossly underpaid – engineers 2 levels my junior were being paid $20k more than me. I quit with no job lined up. The company died shortly thereafter.

Things are better now. I negotiated a $85k raise at my current job, and am on track to be promoted in a year. I’ve been marked as a high performer on my team, and I am now at the top of my pay grade for my years of experience.

You’d think I’d be happy, but I’m not. I’m angry. I’m angry at my company for taking advantage of me. I’m angry at myself for letting them take advantage of me. And I’m angry that I had such a bad experience while my friend hit the jackpot. I’m not angry at her. But I’m angry that even though I prevailed over my bad luck, she still has WAY more money than me – not to mention a career at Google without even having to interview.

I thought about why I am still angry… and I realized my problem is I’m ungrateful. Sure, it sucks to find out your friend got a $300k windfall after you spent a year being underpaid in a toxic work environment. But there are a lot of things I have in my life to be thankful for:

  • I have a good job now, where I am being paid very well. It’s a big tech company, so there are a lot of perks
  • I met so many great people through my old job, who continue to mentor me
  • My health is much better in my new job – I am not as stressed, and things that stress out my coworkers don’t stress me out (because I’ve seen much worse!)
  • I am no longer afraid of negotiating/quitting my job if I feel like I am being mistreated. Some of my coworkers complain about their work every day – I empathize, but I take solace in the fact that I can quit any time I want
  • I have so many people in my life that support me, and there are so many people who helped me get to where I am today
  • I get to live for free with a family friend while others have to pay $30k a year for rent (that’s San Francisco)

I have a lot of things to be thankful for. That said, I’m still working on being grateful instead of jealous. I plan to try out some techniques (writing down things I’m grateful for, wearing a ‘complaint bracelet’, nipping negative thoughts in the bud) over the next couple months to improve my attitude.

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