“I am jealous of those who think more deeply, who write better, who draw better, who ski better, who look better, who live better, who love better than I.” — Sylvia Plath
We all get jealous. It is absolutely, totally, 100% natural. From friends to family to strangers on the Internet. People will also be jealous of you. This is also natural.
Letting that jealousy fester so that you become bitter and mean, though, is not natural. It’s dumb. And I mean, it can happen super easily. If you don’t keep a watchful eye on the way you covet thou neighbour’s goods it can become an all-consuming black hole that becomes almost impossible to claw your way out of. You hate everyone. Resent everyone. You can slip into a mindset of keeping your eye so closely on everyone else’s balls that you drop all of your own and become even more venomous because of it.
Start here: a success for them is not, unless you are an Olympic athlete or nominated for an award, a failure for you. One person doing well does not then mean that there is less “success” for you. “Success” isn’t a finite resource. It is not a lemon meringue pie, that once devoured is gone forever. What we think of as success is a never-ending life buffet that is replenished as it is consumed. Success cannot run out.
Because that’s what it normally comes down to, isn’t it? “They have what I want and now I can’t have it.” Well, you can still have it. You can have a loving, fulfilling relationship with a great partner. A promotion. A month-long holiday to the Greek islands. It is not your business to concern yourself with how somebody else achieved this thing: it is not in your remit as a human to gossip with friends that their daddy paid, or they slept with their boss, or they only Instagram the good stuff when you know for a fact behind the filtered scenes everything is crumbling around their ears.
Don’t do that. Don’t take pleasure in reminding people of their place, of keeping them down. Because the only “down” is to your level. Don’t be a sewer rat. Leave everyone else to it and focus on you.
Channel your jealousy. Don’t judge yourself for feeling that way – get to the bottom of why. Are you thinking hateful thoughts about the byline your writer friend just got because that same publication just turned down your pitch? Angry at Lena Dunham because she directed a TV show about the exact same thing you would’ve directed a TV show about? Pissed that your brother just took 6 weeks off of work to volunteer in Borneo? WHY.
Tell your friend outright: “Hey, I’m so super pumped for you! I know how hard it is to write for them because they turned me down just last month.” Own that she did something you didn’t. Once you’ve owned it, there’s no shame in saying, “If you felt comfortable, I’d love to see your email to them. I’d like to learn form you.” It is your friend’s prerogative to say no.
Do you bitch-out Lena on anonymous forums when you could actually be spending that time working on your own script development? Or maybe you’re envious that she has quite obviously found her element – that place where natural talents meets luck meets hard damned work – and you have yet to find yours? Ask yourself the difficult questions and use her as your example. Look what is possible when you focus and do good work! Log off of people.com and do one thing, now, towards your ideal life.
As for your bother – Borneo has probably never crossed your mind, whereas he’s dreamt of orangutans and jungles since he was six. Let him be happy. What is it that you dream of? Maybe your best life means learning how to make the perfect iced caramel latte in your apartment kitchen. Do that. Impress him when he’s home, showing you pictures and telling you how much he has missed good coffee. You don’t have to want what somebody else wants, no matter how awesome it looks from the outside.
Your perception of them is a reflection of you: if you see a small-minded weasely creep, chances are that’s really you you’re assessing. Your reaction to them is an awareness of yourself – if you are able to work through your stuff to say “Good for you!” and really mean it, whilst acknowledging that you want something just as rewarding but totally different or exactly the same. Well. Then you’ve got it licked.