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?