Talking About Creativity - jealousy

Jen from Classic Play

Jen from Classic Play

Jen from Classic Play and I are back again talking about creativity. The first one was about copying vs. inspiration.

The coffee's hot and we've each poured a cup and are ready to go - I'm here in Vancouver and Jen's over there in Baltimore.

We "talk" via email in real time - no censoring, no editing, and no pre-talk preparation. Each of us reads the other person's response only when we are ready right then to respond. In fact Jen doesn't even know the topic til I email her.

So let's get to it - today we are all about envy and jealousy. And once we're done, we DO want to hear what you think.


You know, as I write my posts and take my photos and build my blog I have been thinking about jealousy and envy lately. There's this idea that I have about what I want the blog to be like and then there's the reality of where it is right now. That Ira Glass vision vs. execution gap. And then I see other bloggers and writers and photographers who are able to execute what I want to do. Sometimes it hits me in the pit of my stomach. I try to be big about it but it's there. I'm jealous. Of their abilities, of their success. 

How about you? Do you get jealous? And of what?


Do I get jealous? Hell yeah. 

I don't know if it's a cultural thing, an insecurity thing, or a living in a digital age thing. Maybe it's like a vestigial tail left over from caveman days—only so much food to go around, she has food, me want it. I guess it doesn't really matter why I feel jealous, just that I do feel jealous. 

And it's funny what I feel jealous about. It's never about things. I've never wanted for a luxury car, big home or more stuff. Instead, my jealousy, stems from my own anxiety about my skills: she's does everything so much better than I do, I wish I was as smart as her, or how I wish I were as articulate as he is. And I'll be honest, sometimes, and this is scary to admit, it's "why does so-and-so get all the attention?" I'm going to let myself off the hook because I know it's a natural emotion. We've all felt that way at some point. But it still gets me down. I think about how if only I had gotten an earlier start in the race, if only I hadn't grown up scraping by, if only I had gone to a better school, if only... if only... 

When my mind starts racing down that track I have to take a step back. 


Yes yes yes. I'm never jealous about material things either. I like "nice" but I think growing up working class made me able to live high and to live low and be satisfied. I might get jealous of someone's ability to put together a stylish room but that's more admiration than true gut wrenching jealousy.  

I get jealous of abilities and freedom and time.

That "only so much to go around - me want it" - I feel that about the success thing. The recognition thing. And it's hard for me to admit it because I feel like a little kid going "look at me, look at me". But I suppose if there wasn't a part of us who didn't want to be looked at, we wouldn't be putting ourselves out there and blogging.

I think about the luck factor. The skills - some of that can be learned. If I work hard enough it'll come eventually. Photography for example. I just started taking pictures when I started my blog in January. I've learned a ton and have even more to learn. I see the photographers who move me and I am inspired to work harder and chip away. I think because I see some progress, I'm fine with this or that person being better at it. For now.

But the luck. The writing/photographing/blogging of something that doesn't get seen by the right people at the right time. That old tree falling in the forest. And then the next person doing the same or similar thing and it does get seen at the right time and ta dah - kudos and recognition. 

How much is luck? How much is out of our hands?


Ah luck. I recently read somewhere that lucky people make their luck. Apparently they allow themselves to be more open so it's easier for them to spot opportunities the rest of us miss. I've just never been lucky enough to experience if that's true or not. Ha! 

I think with the immediacy of everything and just how many voices we're hearing every day, it's hard to be 'lucky' anymore. Although, to be fair, maybe it was never easy. But today? Today, it just feels overwhelming. Oh dear, I feel I've wandered into depressing territory. Yikes! 


Not so much depressing but real. So it sounds like you are saying that the amount of jealousy may be increasing both because we see more what everyone is doing AND because it's that much tougher to get recognized for what we do.

Okay, so we get jealous. We want to be "there", wherever there is, sooner than it appears to be happening. What next? What do we do with that jealousy?

You mentioned stepping back when your mind starts racing with the woulda/could/shouldas. Well, we started when we started. Maybe it could have been earlier. Maybe we could have had different training or education. Maybe we could have worked harder. Or been more savvy. But we're here now. Right now. 

What next? Don't mention any names but is there a particular blogger/writer/whatever that you are envious of? The one that just gets under your skin? The one, when you see their post, you go, "Gah, how did they do that so well??!!!" Don't say who it is - but what is it about that person and what can you do to get from where you are now to where you want to be?

This may sound a bit muddled but I'm thinking that part of the solution may be using it as motivation as much as using it as a reality check - in other words, I may not be Dooce (no she's not one of my envy bloggers! - keeping that to myself) BUT I can learn this or that or the other from how she does what she does.


I don't think I have one in particular. I envy people for different things. No one's spared! Ha! I just realized I'm like the Oprah of envy. I'm gonna envy you! I'm gonna envy you! Look under your seats everyone. That's right, the whole audience is getting envied!

Practically speaking? Sometimes I've let myself stop reading a blog for a period of time because it didn't make me feel good anymore. It had nothing to do with the author of the blog, it was me. Later I've gone back to see it through fresh eyes, not green ones, and I've realized I was letting myself miss out on something really fun. 

The other thing I've done is realize that yeah, maybe I'm not the brightest or shiniest but I'm pretty dang lucky to have what I have going. Whoa! maybe I do have a little luck after all. 

Those things typically free me up to channel that jealousy into improving what I am doing now. In the end though I know no one's life is perfect. And that person I'm jealous of is probably jealous of someone else's talent. 


Sounds like we both try and use our jealousy as a motivator to up our game on our blogs. And I like your strategy of temporarily stepping away from this blog or that blog if it is just too hard to take. It's humbling, eh, to admit your jealousy.

So what about envy and jealousy? Do you get envious of other artists/photographers/bloggers? Are there some successful ones that you are fine with while others' success just drives you crazy? And has anyone ever been jealous of you? What was that like? Do share....