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Todd Parker Todd Parker
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Ask Todd Parker - Apr. 24, 2013

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Dear Todd Parker,

Ever have one of those moments when you learn something about yourself and you wish you hadn't?

There's this guy that I know from back in the day. We aren't all that close anymore, although we still talk every once in a great while. He's always been a pretty good dude, but not the kind of guy you would think would be destined for great things.

He has become a massive success. Everything he touches turns to gold and he is making more money in a year than I'll see in a lifetime. So much cash. And it's not like he's any different. He's still the same guy he just happened to fall ass-backwards into mind-blowing success.

I should be happy for him and I guess I am. Kind of. But then I look at my life and I wonder why I didn't have the same kind of luck. Why does this guy get to stumble into all these riches and I'm stuck busting my ass every day for no money?

I think I already know the answer to this, but am I a bad person for feeling this way?

Jealous in Orono

Dear Jealous,

You are absolutely a bad person.

Sure, your reaction is a perfectly normal one, one that a lot of people would have to some degree. But that's because a lot of humans are also terrible people.

It's not your buddy's fault that he achieved success. And it's definitely not fair for you to assume that his success springs from nothing more than pure blind luck. You said yourself that you aren't that close anymore; how can you possibly know how much time and effort that this guy has put in? Yeah, success without effort can happen, but it's not like your friend won the lottery or anything.

(If he did win the lottery and that's what you're complaining about, you're slightly less of a bad person. Also stupider, but definitely less of a bad person.)

The movies have taught us that overnight success is something that happens all the time. It isn't. 99 times out 100, people who start from nothing and achieve great wealth have done something along the line to make that happen. You make it sound like the sky just opened up and dropped a bunch of gunnysacks with dollar signs into your friend's lap. With even a tiny bit of investigation, I'm betting you'll find that he did something more than 'fall ass-backwards' into his current situation.

Don't be such a nozzle, man. A little envy is okay; the grass is always greener and all that. But you can't let yourself devalue what he has done. I don't doubt that some degree of good fortune was involved in your pal's successes luck always plays a part, even if it's a small one. But to dismiss his efforts out of hand? That's straight out of the 'How to be a bad person' playbook.

Maybe it's time to put on your big-boy pants and accept the fact that maybe just maybe  the guy deserves what he has. Grow up and be happy for someone who at least used to be your friend.


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