Definition: This person can’t keep your name, or your plans, out of their mouth. The jealous gossip needs to know what you’re doing at all times, because they’re waiting to pass judgment on your next move. You usually have something they don’t have, but do want: a starting spot on a varsity team, the lead in the musical, great grades. This leads them to obsessively daydream about your imaginary downfall, analyzing your decisions and hypothesizing what it would take for you to fall from grace.
Exaggerated archetype: The backstabbing, cheer-stealing rival squads from Bring It On.
If you’re the target: It seems clichéd, but try to understand why people are jealous of you: You’re freaking wonderful! You worked hard to get what you have, but unfortunately, the world is full of people who expect major payoff for not-very-major amounts of work. It can be so difficult to do this, because knowing people are breathing down your neck is the worst feeling ever, but to paraphrase the immortal words of our lady of DGAF, Taylor Swift—haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. Shake it off! It’s hard, but “do you” is more or less all you can do.
If you’re the gossip: If you find yourself making nasty assumptions about someone who has something you want, it’s time to take a step back and be honest with yourself. You’re jealous! How terribly human (read: NORMAL) of you.
It’s natural to look at someone living the life you want and judge them harshly. Person XYZ is so dumb and awful, you think, I deserve that more than they do. That logic might feel simple and comforting at first, yes, but it’s fundamentally irrational. This isn’t about someone being better or worse than you. Those are generalizations, and what you want is specific. You need to consider why they have what you want. Are your grades not as great because you don’t put in the study time before major exams? Are you missing out on the lead in the musical because you’re tone-deaf and can’t dance? Be honest with yourself, even if it’s hard. Then think about everything you do have—maybe you’re totally killing it in art class, or playing in bands and making zines outside of school that matter a hundred times more to you than some ridiculous physics test. Maybe you’re an incredible lighting director or stage hand, just as vital to the theater as the lead. It takes all types to make the world go ‘round. You’re living your own (totally full, important, meaningful) life, not theirs. Remember: Someone else’s success does not mean your failure.
Definition: Lord help them, for they know not what they do. Maybe they blurt something seemingly innocuous without thinking, maybe they didn’t understand that what you told them was private—either way, they never meant to share your secrets or hurt you. They might not even get that they screwed up! It was a complete accident…but now you’re screwed.
Exaggerated archetype: Lucy Moran of Twin Peaks, patron saint of the loudest person in the room.
If you’re the target: This one might be an exercise in face-saving from multiple angles. Your clumsy BFF mentions your crush around a mutual friend, assuming you already told her, too—nope, and as it turns out, your mutual friend likes the same person. You’ve got to keep in mind that your BFF never meant to hurt you, so you can’t really flip out, no matter how badly you might want to.
Then there’s the issue of Person #2. If the second party is your friend, you might find your relationship in jeopardy—an element of competition has been introduced, which puts stress on both of you. If Person #2 is a distant acquaintance or stranger, you might suddenly catch yourself hypothesizing the thoughts and feelings of someone you don’t know. That’s an unpredictable X factor that would drive anyone nuts.
The quickest solution to this sort of mix up, no matter who you’re dealing with, is direct, honest communication. ‘Lying’ and ‘bottling up your feelings’ are tied for first place at the “Super Unproductive Behavior” awards. The best thing to do when information is shared unintentionally is to confront it head-on.
Approach your BFF with grace and let them know that, while you know it was an accident, you’d prefer if stuff like that stayed between the two of you (and then be very, very wary of trusting them with anything ever again—sad but true). With person #2, go right in. A phone call or email saying, “Hey, this is weird but I don’t want it to be, so let’s talk,” could clear things up quickly and easily. If they’re a friend, this could induce conversation and strengthen your friendship. If Person #2 is a stranger, who knows? When all is said and done, you might walk away with a new friend.
If you’re the gossip: Develop a really serious monogamous relationship with the angel on your shoulder—you know, the one that begs you to think twice before EVER relaying information about someone else in a social setting. This form of gossip happens to everyone eventually, so the next time you’re tempted to relay a secondhand story, try to remember how it felt last time it happened to you. Ask yourself these crucial three questions before ever letting someone else’s name pass your lips: 1. Does this need to be said? 2. By me? 3. Right now?