The Green-eyed Monster Should Not Stay for Tea

Ah, the green-eyed monster.

Michelle’s post is correct in jealousy knowing no boundaries. It is felt at one time or another by the young and old, the fortunate and unfortunate, and everyone in between. As common as a cold and just as welcome.

We all feel jealousy sometimes. Why? Because it’s natural. Yet, have you noticed that it’s one of the emotions that people deny feeling the most? If a character in a book or movie accuses another of jealousy, the answer is invariably, “I am not!” This is usually followed by a gruff folding of the arms, which some would argue means that he/she is lying.

It’s one of those emotions we are told not to feel–like we have an off switch. Isn’t it better to acknowledge it, deal with it, and give it its walking papers? After all, if you keep it around and feed it, it gets bigger. Wants hot tea and a knitted sweater. Gets comfortable. Maybe invites its cousins over–Worry and Anger.

Important to note that there’s a big difference between the fleeting jealousies of your neighbor’s belly button lint collection versus something that involves our personal or creative lives– where our emotional investments run through our hearts like joists in a floor.

The standard monster does not have this emotional hold. It is simply of the I want to have it and also want you NOT to have it variety. The straight-forward “fear of loss” kind. This is seen, for example, in two toddlers that fight over a toy. Or, perhaps, a battle between a Yankees fan and a Red Sox fan. Oh, wait…Baseball fans never feel such things.

The bigger, stronger green-eyed monster begins with a compare and contrast mindset, and is more personal. So, thinking in terms of writers and illustrators, I think creative types—who also tend to be deeply sensitive overthinkers—do compare themselves to each other. But when we talk about jealousy in these cases, I don’t think it’s in the traditional definition of jealousy. I think that most aren’t looking to strip someone else of their success. They just want to make a difference, too.

Knowing our creative lives are a defining attribute for so many of us, am I wrong to think that jealousy has much more to do with our perceptions of ourselves rather than the successes of others? It’s all really about perception, isn’t it? Jealousy is not how you stack up against someone else as much as how you perceive yourself as stacking up against someone else.

I keep jealousy in check by remembering that only I can write my books. And only others can write theirs. I couldn’t have pulled off FALLING FOR HAMLET in a publishable way—only in a My relatives think I’m talented kind of way. I would say the same about any of the Emusdebuts’ books. For example, the amount of research that Cynthia,   J. Andersen Coats  and Jeannie Mobley have done would make something green and sticky ooze out of my ears. Smelling faintly of ham.

And with Halloween so close, wouldn’t that make the neighbors jealous?

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16 Comments

Filed under Colleagues, Controversy, Happiness, rejection and success, Satisfaction, Writing, Writing and Life

16 responses to “The Green-eyed Monster Should Not Stay for Tea

  1. Cynthia

    Lynda, this is wise, brilliant, insightful, and funny. I feel, at once, comforted, chastened, and informed. Thank you. This is a keeper that goes over my desk.

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  2. Martha Calderaro

    I wish *I* had written this. 😉
    “Jealousy is not how you stack up against someone else as much as how you perceive yourself as stacking up against someone else.” Well put. Thanks for this post!

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  3. Lynda, this is…. hmmmmm… familiar. I, as you write, am one of those cross-my-arms-over-my-chest types that says “Me jealous? Never…” Yeah right. Thank you for reminding me, in such an eloquent, smart, heartful way, that it is just plain okay to admit to a feeling. And in doing so, set it free…

    Free! Not tea! 🙂

    Honestly, thank you for this beautiful post.

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  4. “Please tell me you’re not a Red Sox fan!” she said, her voice revealing equal parts horror and scorn. “I don’t think we can be virtual friends anymore!”

    “And also,” she went on, gruffly folding her arms, “I do NOT overthink things.”

    She stomped off in a huff to count her Sharpies, hoping to find that she had more than Lynda…

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    • Lynda Mullaly Hunt

      OMG, do you crack me up! I always love your clever responses here on Emus!

      I propose “Sharpies Smackdown, Unleashed–2011!” Purple beats orange which beats blue. And, you can hope you have more, but…

      I love your “jealous fit” here. As I worked on this entry into the wee hours because I was in Boston, I thought that I could just post, “I’m jealous of other people who hit blog deadlines. I’m not one of them.” That would have been inspiring, huh?

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      • I just bought two more Sharpies yesterday (boring black, but still). Is there a “tongue-sticking-out” emoticon? I have SEVERAL shades of blue, so I think that beats your stinky orange. Purple does beat all. Curses! Foiled again!

        The green eyed monster gnaws on me pretty hard sometimes, but I truly do admire all of you who have worked so hard to acheive your dreams. The monster just taunts me: “When was the last time you sent out a query, dumb ass?” And so, duly chastened, I get on with it.

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  5. Such an interesting subject, such a validating post! I suffer the same kind of jealousies, petty and otherwise, that both you and Michelle wrote about. If we’re being honest, we all do. The difference is that very few of us say these things out loud. Me, I’m a talker. I say things out loud. Oh, not to the person in question, particularly if what I have to say might be hurtful, but to my husband, who then chastises me. He must be jealous of my ability to access my feelings.

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    • Lynda Mullaly Hunt

      Hi, Judy! Thanks so much for this comment–made me laugh out loud at the end. Most husbands are jealous of that, don’t you think?

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  6. And she hits it out of the park again! (Have you thought of offering yourself to the Red Sox?) Seriously, Lynda, thanks for the witty, but wise insight that only YOU can offer. I have to admit that I AM jealous of your ability. In a good way, of course. Kudos!!

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    • Lynda Mullaly Hunt

      The implication that I could help the Red Sox is sad–especially since I might have been able to improve things for them in September! NO direction to go but up! HA!

      Thanks so much, Mary. I so appreciate this comment. I’m jealous-in-a-good-way of you, too, ya know. I am.

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  7. Well at LEAST I’ve never envied my neighbor’s belly button lint collection! Phew. Your title alone says it all. And it’s nice to know I’m not alone in the fleeting jealousies. They are fleeting, but they pass so I can celebrate others, and it pushes me to work even harder.

    And I looked it up: “Green Eyed Monster” has its first written record in Shakespeare. My man, Willy! [I’d be jealous of his talent, but it’s too far out of my league.]

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    • Remember the reference in “Much Ado” to Seville oranges and Claudio being “something of that complexion” (i.e., jealous)? Imagine being “orange with envy.” Just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

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  8. Pingback: The Green-eyed Monster Should Not Stay for Tea « Be Someone's Hero.

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