Karen Elson is a music maker, a model, and just a rad human being, among other accomplishments. But the coolest thing she does, in our eyes, is answer your questions on the regs here on Rookie. Her latest dispatch:

I feel jealous any time someone around me is successful or does something cool or interesting. Everyone seems to know exactly what they want in life and how to get it. Instead of feeling empowered by their example, I just feel jealous and down. It’s killing me. —A.

Jealously is just a mask, and usually beneath it is insecurity. Everyone has felt envy and jealousy; every one of us has wished our lives could be different, and better. Here’s the thing, though: your jealously is getting in the way of your actually getting up and figuring out what it is you want from life. You can continue to mope about what other people have, but it will do you do good at all—in fact, it’s preventing you from moving forward.

Everyone around you might seem sure of what they want, but even the most “successful” people feel insecure and uncertain at times. I think you may be putting others on an unrealistic pedestal, and not realizing that we’re all really in the same boat—we’re all chasing our dreams, changing our dreams, questioning ourselves and faltering sometimes, then picking up and moving on. Some people do have a head start in life, of course! But to let that defeat you would be a crime.

So, what do you do? First of all, I think you should work on your insecurities. Accept that you feel jealous, then try to reverse that feeling by focusing on the things in life that make YOU feel inspired and empowered. (Clearly you don’t feel that way when you compare yourself with other people—by the way, no one does—so stop doing that!)

We all have days when the green-eyed monster knocks on our door. But don’t let that cripple you. Accept it, then do what you need to do to feel good.

What changes should I expect after I start having sex? What will be different? —Chrissy, 17

The changes you do or do not feel will depend on what your actual first-time sexual experience is like. If it’s good, it may open the gates to your sexual self—you may feel empowered and discover things about your body you never knew. It might make you feel closer to the person you had sex with—or it might make you realize that it’s time to move on. If your first sexual experience is confusing, you may also feel insecurity, shame, confusion. All of these reactions are totally normal, and it always takes anyone, of any gender, a while to figure the whole deal out. No matter what, though, you should always feel respected! Don’t ever question that.

You may also feel nothing at all. It may be no more or less than sex, plain and simple, and that is also OK. Don’t feel pressured to “lose your virginity”—that pressure can take all the fun of it. Do it if and when you’re ready, enjoy yourself, be safe, and stay true to your feelings.

My boyfriend is constantly flirting with other girls. It hurts my feelings and makes me feel jealous. I asked him what the deal was, and he said that he can have crushes on 100 girls but only be in love with me. I really want to believe him, but should I? –Confused

I have met many a flirt in my time, and I admit I can be an outrageous one also. A harmless flirtation or a random, un-acted-upon crush is natural. But 100 crushes seems excessive, and it also sounds like maybe your boyfriend isn’t really reassuring you. Many people have crushes while in a relationship—that is totally natural; crushes come and go. But actions speak louder than words! If you feel like your boyfriend is disrespectful towards you and outwardly flirting with girls around you, that’s really not fair, because he knows it makes you sad. Discuss it again with him; be really specific about what actions hurt your feelings. If he flirts in front of you, and/or tells you about other women he’s attracted to, you can tell him that stuff is not cool. Set boundaries. Then maybe give him a chance to work on it.

That said, if you’re freaking out over every woman he glances at, that isn’t OK either—it’s only going to create tension. Everyone looks at people and even innocently flirts; it’s one of the pleasures of life. But if you’ve set reasonable boundaries with this guy, and he still can’t stop himself, I think you two should take a break. ♦

If you have a question about anything (seriously, ANYTHING) for Karen, or for the Rookie staff and associates, please send it to [email protected].