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Tuesday 26 April 2011


Jealousy is the strangest beast. It lives inside of almost everyone, and it shapes and effects your relationships, your creativity, and your happiness in ways you can never predict.

And it comes along the minute you start pulling out and doing something different. If you act in a TV show, or write an inspiring article, or get invited to Will & Kate's wedding; sure, some people will be happy for you, some will be supportive, but some will be insanely jealous.

It can manifest itself in wildly different ways. Some people are obvious; they inhabit a wild inner monster and they storm forth criticising your work, denying your abilities, laughing at your efforts. Other times, it's more subtle. It can come as a withdrawal of support. The disappearance of the love.

They're both difficult to deal with. The angry monster version will often retract their words, or say "I only told you you're a talentless writer because I care and because I want the best for you". But of course, they've already attacked, they've bitten into you, only there's no prison for the jealous, apart from their own minds.

Similarly, the passive one who handles their jealousy through silence, through indifference, they're hurting you but in the process; they're also making themselves more miserable. People are jealous when they feel threatened. When they worry you're going to Hollywood and they're not, or your short story won the prize and theirs didn't quite cut it.

We all have it in us. Sometimes we're almost evil, vicious. It's hard to love. It's harder to admire. It's much easier to ridicule, to assume something bad about someone, to paint a picture which allows you to look down upon another.

Jealousy is a self fulfilling prophecy. If you're jealous that someone sold a script, or bought a big boat, or went on a great date; you're jealous because they are the things you want. But the act of jealousy and the horribleness you inflict pushes you further away from your goals.

When someone achieves something, it's a reflection on their talent and dedication. Or maybe it's not, maybe it's luck, or an injustice -- but it has nothing to do with your own journey.

Jealousy is when someone, without provocation, sabotages or criticises something they wish they achieved or owned or had access too. It's their own shit. And if they withdraw their support, you can't take that person's problems personally. You have to let them go, carry on forth. Your support, for the most part, needs to be internal. This industry, and most of life, is full of rejection. It's hard when it comes from people you dislike, it's worse when it comes from someone you respect. But when they're jealous, you know you're really achieving.

As for ourselves, when we see someone doing good work, we need to tell them. Especially when they make our jealous-monster's awaken. Most people who are doing something good, or personal, or meaningful-- they are not getting the support they need. Despite the fantasticness of the lives they are creating, they are met only with the disdain of the envious people around them. Go a different way, tell them how magnificent they are. You'll help them be great, quicker, and you'll feel better inside.

Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.
-Mary Schmich


  1. Well said. This is written with such passion -almost of jumping off the screen- that I wonder if some specific act prompted this essay. Something done to you or by you?

    -- Curious in Boston.

  2. So, if someone criticises your work or doesn't offer unwavering support, they are just jealous of you? Long live schoolyard logic...

  3. Bruce: Nothing in particular, I don't think-- but I think it's one of those things that is often around us, been wanting to write on the topic for a while.

    TheUnwashedMass: No. That's not what I am saying. Sorry that I led you to believe I was implying all criticism is jealousy. That would be quite silly.

  4. I love it when people do well and have been disappointed when other people don't feel that way about my exploits. I do think most people would feel better if they supported the efforts of their friends even if they are not following a path they necessarily agree with.

  5. I've had a lot of "constructive criticism" in my life, mostly valid, some not.. and it took decades for me to recognise one from the other. I've also been blessed to know (or brush shoulders with) some truly talented people - do I envy them? You betcha'! They are the ones whom have inspired and focused me towards mine own elusive goals. See, thing is, every talent is unique, you cannot steal or plagerise it, it is owned solely by the creator. Jealousy, cruel words, and sour comments are, as you so rightly say, simply a mark of the insecurity from the lips of those that are (especially to their own minds)far less able. (shit, having read this back, do I ever sound so up myself?? Och well, too late now..)

    Exiting, scarlett-faced.