Beating the Green-Eyed Bastard!

Jealousy

“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.”
~William Shakespeare

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Jealous much?

Let’s face it, now that almost every artist and their creative brother are online showing off their handiwork,  it’s easier than ever to become jealous of …

  • their artwork/writing/music
  • their sales
  • their really cool website
  • the hundreds of comments on their blog
  • hearing about all of their recent exhibitions and gushing publicity
  • not to mention their legions of fawning friends and followers on Twitter and Facebook

I mean, sometimes it’s enough to make you want to crawl back into your creative little hole and hibernate until the coming zombie apocalypse.

Our envy of others devours us most of all.  ~Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Let’s not kid ourselves here. Ten years ago, we all knew that these over-achieving creative folks were out there, but at the same time, we didn’t have to sit there and stare at their virtual trophy shelf every single day.

Not that I’m blaming any of these artists for their success.  After all, kudos to them for working their tails off and achieving some level of success in their creative field.  I certainly don’t begrudge them that, but that doesn’t necessarily change the fact that sometimes I’m jealous as hell of them.

I can’t even read books anymore…

It’s been said that one of the requirements of being an artist or writer is to fully immerse yourself in your art.  Not just diving into your own work, but also the works of others.  For writers this means reading the great works of literature, for musicians listening to the classics in your chosen genre, and for visual artists this means studying the masterworks of those who came before you.

That’s fine.  I have no problem with that.  After all, everyone needs someone to look up to and model themselves after.  I don’t have a problem with studying the old masters.  What I seem to have a problem with, is studying the work of my contemporaries.

You see when it comes to the old dead masters of our craft,  I can usually rationalize their success.  After all, maybe they received a better education, perhaps they had more time to practice their craft, or maybe they had some wise old mentor who shared some ancient secrets with them.  Whatever may have been going on there, they all ended up doing very well for themselves and that’s great.  And if nothing else, at least I can take comfort in the fact that since they’re dead, they are not very likely to steal my really great idea for that book that I’ve been meaning to write.

It’s not the old masters who makes me jealous… it’s you!

I’m talking about the regular old artist/writer/musician that you just met on Twitter who seemingly has it all together.  You know the one I’m talking about here.  That artist who just booked that big show, that writer who just published their first book, or that photographer who just published a coffee table book the size of Texas [Editor: for our international readers, that’s pretty darn big]

Damn, I wish I would have thought of that!  ~Me

Please don’t get the wrong idea here. It’s not that I dislike these creative contemporaries for their success.  In fact some of them are the nicest people you will ever meet, but I still can’t help but feel a little jealous of their success.

Now is this just some kind of flaw in my character — probably.  Look, logically I know that we’re not out here competing with one another and I realize that another artist’s success in no way diminishes my own chances of achieving my goals.

I get that.

Now having said that,  I still find myself getting jealous every time I read a really good book.  I still feel a bit envious whenever I see a younger writer being featured in some magazine article.  And I still get upset when someone else comes up with a really good idea that may have been sitting right there in front of me the entire time.

It all comes back to the evil twins of Fear & Doubt

In the end, of course, it’s not about any of them — it’s about me.  It’s about me not living up to my own expectations.  It’s about me having a vision that seems to be constantly just beyond my reach and ability.  It’s about me not always feeling worthy of the path I have chosen for myself.  And it’s about me feeling as if I have wasted so much of my time by not starting sooner and getting distracted by endless shiny objects along the way.

 

Jealousy injures us with the dagger of self-doubt. ~Terri Guillemets

 

The author Julia Cameron put it this way in her extraordinary book “The Artist’s Way“:

“Jealousy is always a mask for fear: fear that we aren’t able to get what we want; frustration that somebody else seems to be getting what is rightfully ours even if we are too frightened to reach for it.  At its root, jealousy is a stingy emotion.  It doesn’t allow for the abundance and multiplicity of the universe.  Jealousy tells us there is room for only one — one poet, on painter, one whatever you dream of being. . . The biggest lie that jealousy tells us is that we have no choice but to be jealous.  Perversely, jealousy strips us of our will to act when action is the key to our freedom.”

This constant sense of fear, inadequacy, and jealousy is certainly not something I’m proud of, and the only reason I’m sharing any of this with you is because I suspect that I’m not entirely alone.

So I guess my question to you is….

  • How do you not get discouraged by all of this?
  • How do you get past that nagging feeling that somehow it has all been done before?
  • How do you celebrate in the success of others without getting down on yourself?
  • How do you not beat yourself up for losing focus and wasting so much time along the way?

Please tell me that I’m not the only one who feels these things!

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Comments

  1. says

    You are not alone. I’ve battled this for years. It gained nothing for me. I produced nothing better because of it. So, it has to go. I learned that the best way to deal with it is to bring it into the light. Don’t shove it down and deny that it exists. Shine light on it and it loses power. Do this daily if you must. Then create what you love.

    • Drew says

      Thanks Kyle :)

      Jealousy is one of those things like eating an entire pint of ice cream, where you know that it’s not doing you any good, but for whatever reason there you are with a spoon in your hand shoveling it into your face. Perhaps you’re right, maybe bringing all of this into the light will be therapeutic. Nothing like having the great Google archive all of my whining and petty jealousies until the end of time…. on second thought, what the hell was I thinking?!?

      Thanks again for your support and shine on brother!

    • says

      Wow, Kyle – Your first few sentences could just as easily describe me. Now I just need to learn what you’ve learned. Thanks for a terrific reply to an equally terrific post.

  2. says

    A great post and I’m glad you posed these questions! This is something ALL people struggle with. Even those ‘successful’ ones. : ) Those who say they don’t aren’t telling the truth! We all struggled with it. I did as well but over the years I’ve just let it all go. Be true to ourselves. Do what we love. No matter what.

    OK – I’ll touch on how I feel about your question:

    1. How do I not get discouraged? The success others obtain/earn is PROOF that, indeed, success lives. So that means there is success to be had. I have learned to embrace the entire journey. The ups, the downs, even the mistakes. I can actually now smile when I’ve made a mistake. (A far cry from what I used to do!) Because I know that mistake and the lesson it taught me adds to the bank of knowledge that helps me grow.

    2. That nagging feeling that it’s all been done? Actually most everything has been done, I suppose. But the way I look at it is, it hasn’t been done by my hand. So for me, nothing’s all been done already. In concept it has, but each of us will do it differently…put our own personality into it.

    3. How do I celebrate the success of others? I just do it. Their success wasn’t done to hurt me. They didn’t plan on succeeding for the sole purpose of making me feel bad. It goes to prove success is there to be had : ) It’s a big world and there is enough room in it for each of us to find our niche. I celebrate everyone’s success and release the positive energy into the world….it comes back to your world. Once you start fully being happy for someone else’s success, things change and it frees you. Holding this in just would give me negative black energy and that isn’t good. (this is the hardest of the challenges and believe me I used to get knotted up about it)

    4.How do I not beat myself up for losing focus or wasting time along the way? That’s used to be an on-going issue. When I lost focus I used to beat myself up. Listen to negative thoughts in my head. I’ve learned to accept those times as a sort of ‘ cocooning’. If my loss of focus is a result of artist block I now embrace that time and not fight it. For me, fighting against it prolongs the block and causes more negative feelings, which lead to more negative thoughts. I think of it as being a caterpillar in a cocoon. Usually when I’m cocooning it means I am morphing into a new direction in my artwork. I strongly believe we all need this for growth.

    As far as wasting time – I think we all find that happens. It’s another thing that used to drive me crazy and make me feel guilty. But now, whatever I’m wasting my time doing, I make sure I’m enjoying every minute of it while I’m wasting it : ) Life’s too short to waste time worrying about wasting time. We all do it.

    Nobody sums this all up better than Dr. Suess!

    Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you. – Dr Seuss

    • says

      That is a brilliant answer! It’s all what I was thinking and a lot of what I was going to say, just put a lot better :) I especially agree about not resisting; if you can sit with a feeling it passes a lot quicker than if you keep fighting it.

      • Drew says

        I have to agree with Tara, that was a brilliant answer Angie :)

        You have a great perspective and one that I can certainly learn a lot from. I’m not sure if you read my earlier response to Kyle above, but it’s like eating that pint of ice cream where mentally you know better, but you still find yourself doing it all the same.

        I think out of all of these, I typically have the most difficulty with the last one which is beating my self up for both losing focus now as well as feeling as if I have wasted so much time in the past. Logically I know that everything I have done (or not done) in the past has brought me to where I am today, but still there are days when I would like nothing better than to jump into that Delorean time machine and smack my younger self around a bit.

        I think I may have to print out your response here and revisit it the next time I need to put things back into perspective.

        Thanks again for sharing this!

  3. says

    We have all been there sweetie. It is good to be human and exercise not only your emotions but our restraint and ability to understand. We are unique in who we are from our characteristics to our abilities. It is hard to find success in ourselves without the praise, fame, or whatever else media has determined makes success… but only in letting go of all that can peace come and the monster leave. Easier said than done, I know. Someday I hope to get there too. :)

    • Drew says

      Thanks Jessica :)

      I think sometimes just knowing that you’re not alone in having these kind of feelings is a comfort in itself. Of course nobody likes to admit the fact that they are filled with these petty meaningless jealousies, but I do believe that we are all susceptible to them at times. It’s like the flu for the creative psyche. We all have those days when we feel as if we are moving backwards or that everyone else is passing us by. I think Kyle was right when he said that sometimes just getting it out there helps. We have to understand that everyone goes through this and it’s not some kind of tragic character flaw.

      Thank you again for all of your support and friendship!

  4. says

    I tend to separate my experience from others quite totally. Their success is theirs, mine is mine. I can happily appreciate and praise their work because it has nothing to do with my journey. I have faith that my work is original because I created it as a unique individual, as we all are.

    Occasionally I find myself dreaming of art that is similar in concept to something I’ve seen or read, and realize I need to dig deeper, to make it more me and my interpretation. Sometimes this knocks my confidence (which can be extremely rocky) and I have to remind myself why I want to create. If I go looking outside myself for purpose or recognition, I’m in trouble.

    Time passing by can be a frustrating thing when we have so much we want to achieve. Frustration isn’t a very helpful emotion though, I’ve found, and I try and move past that quickly and turn it into motivation to just keep doing what I can. After all frustration is closely linked to regret and that is a wasted emotion, I believe! Living in the present as much as possible works well for me.

    Of course I do live in hope for that magic ingredient that grabs the attention of the masses… but I have to say, I’m happy for those who have found it. The world needs creative people and there’s room enough for all of us :)

    • says

      I should add to my comments that my present way of looking at things has evolved much over time… years of feeling inadequate, frustrated and incapable have led me to look at my life in close detail. Teaching my children (and them teaching me) has had a huge impact on my view of the world. Being kind to myself has allowed me to much kinder and more accepting to the rest of the world in turn.

      Thanks Drew for another great read that gets me looking inwards and accessing where I am now.

      • Drew says

        I really admire how you are able to separate your success from the success of others, and you’re absolutely right that their level of success in no way affects your own creative journey. I certainly haven’t reached that point yet, but I feel like I’ll get there someday.

        Parenthood certainly does have a way of taking the focus off ourselves (and our fragile ego). Perhaps this is Mother Natures not-so gentle way of telling us that maybe we really aren’t the center of the universe after all, and maybe we are here to do something else with our life other than trying to constantly please ourself.

        I think parenthood has also taught me to let go a bit and to allow the journey to unfold on its own rather than me trying to force it in the direction that I think it should go. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still pretty much a creative control-freak, but I’m learning ;)

  5. says

    I agree with Rebecca in the fact that the way I look at these issues has evolved over time in just the way she explained. A lot of my early years was wanting to rush, rush and get stuff out there. And I just don’t work well that way. I do what I can and go as slow as I need to go (slow is my natural way with my art so that is a frustration I’ve learned to accept and embrace) I had a lot of times feeling left behind while others cranked art out while I may be still working on the same piece for 2 months or more. But that’s the way I work, and the way I work best so I’ve learned to stop letting it upset me when I feel the wind of other artist’s artwork blow by me as they crank them out : )

    Yes of course you are not alone. That is a big help right there.

    I spent 12 years home raising a family, so I too know what it’s like to start late. I did commission work during those years but it put a strain on the raising a family aspect of my world, so I did it sparingly because my children were my most important focus and I wasn’t going to compromise their childhood at all. So I understand totally your feeling of wanting to go back and slap up your younger self. We do what we know to do at the time and what we need to do. All we have is now so let’s get on with it. : ) That is the only way to look at it I guess.

    This is a great discussion to have opened up, Drew! It’s a journey we all are on. Isn’t it comforting to know that no matter how we each talk about it, what words we use, we all totally understand it? And WE ALL have been there and WE ALL are still there even though we have already been there? I think that made sense : )

    • Drew says

      I think you nailed it when you said that “We all have been there and we all are still there”. Unfortunately, you’re right that this is not something that just goes away once you reach a certain point in your career. It’s always something that we carry around with us, it’s just whether or not we choose to pay attention to what its saying that makes the difference.

      It reminds of that old Cherokee story about the wise elder who tells his grandson a story about two wolves that live inside of him…

      The Wolf You Feed

      An elder Cherokee was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me.. it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

      The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

      “This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too”, he added.

      The Grandchildren thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

      The old Cherokee simply replied… “The one you feed.”

      Which wolf have you fed today?

  6. says

    You are describing my internet journies to a tee!
    And sadly I don’t get over the jealousy. A friend told me that I can be jealous but then immediately turn that jealousy into making my art better. And while he’s right, it’s a hard thing to do and I struggle with that EVERY SINGLE DAY! I’m easily discouraged when seeing others’ amazing work especially artists who have a consistant body of work yet each piece is somehow different. How do they do that? Because I’ve been very color field, strong lines, geometrically inclined for the last few years and now all I want to do is slap paint around and be completely Pollock-like. How is that consistant? How does that show my point of view?
    Anyway I’m babbling but believe me you are not alone Drew!

    • Drew says

      Thank you Rachel for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us. I certainly understand what you are feeling. As artists I think sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves that it becomes practically impossible to be happy with anything that we’ve done. It becomes a no-win situation.

      If we produce a consistent body of work, we are told that we are becoming formulaic and predictable. If we try to explore new genres and techniques, then we are told that we lack focus. If we create this, they ask why didn’t we create that and it never ends… until we finally stop seeking the approval of those around us. I mean, It’s hard enough to silence the critic in our own head, without having to try and please everyone else in the process.

      • says

        Thanks to all, in particular Angie – v helpful.
        I’ve always figured, Rachel, that the fact that my ‘stuff’ doesn’t seem to have any consistency just illustrates how undisciplined and undeveloped I am as an artist, thanks for the alternative perspective ;)

  7. says

    Fantastic reading everyone. I really never take the time to read much of what people write as I suppose I am there fighting on to not waste time. How sad is that! This was well worth taking the time to read and reflect on. It’s about using the half full glass and always remembering that. Thanks to everyone. x

    • Drew says

      Thanks Tessa for sharing this with us. I love reading through all of these comments and discovering that there are others out there who have been through this. Sometimes it’s just having this reminder that helps to put things back into perspective. Thanks again!

  8. says

    Rachel,

    I agree with what your friend said about turning the jealousy into making your art better. Jealousy can give you one of 2 things – it can give you the drive to work harder, better, more focused, along with the growth we all need by prompting us into self-reflection and self evaluation. OR it can give you the total oppposite of the very things I just listed. It has to be a choice.

    • Drew says

      I think you’re exactly right Angie, although at times I seem to switch quickly between “Just try and stop me!” and “I give up, where’s the Ben & Jerry’s?” ;)

  9. says

    Yes, I catch myself thinking why did that happen to so and so instead of me or why did she sale all of her paintings?!? What is the deal with mine not selling so fast!? I then give myself a hard time for a while burning out questions of how, what, when, and why I am going to change to be a better Artist. (can’t believe I’m admitting this)

    I admit that these thoughts don’t come across very often. When they do I catch myself instantly or eventually. I try to stop myself and think that I am a different person than them. There isn’t a perfect Artist out there or person for that matter. I realize that my success will come in time. I rejoice and share that happiness with that Artist and really mean it. When it is my turn, I don’t want people mad or upset about my success! I want people to be happy with me! Like I’m the queen of the hayride and we are all cheering and riding together! I know that the Artist deserves it just like I deserve it someday!

    I am not sure how to answer the last question considering I am having problems with this lately. I am pretty ADHD in this area. Music helps me pump up the jam and get going.

    Sidenote: I also want everyone to know after reading all of this. I am not a Debbie Downer and usually get accused of being “too happy.” Thank you for posting this Drew! Now I know I’m not alone. :)

    • Drew says

      Dear Debbie Downer,

      That’s okay because I still can’t believe I decided to publish this article in the first place. As if I needed to add “petty jealousies” to my already not-so impressive resume. At least we can both take solace in the fact that no one other than my cat actually reads this stuff anyway….

      And not that I’m trying to recant and spin doctor this sad little revelation away, but like you, it’s not like I wake up everyday with a bad case of everybody-is-better-than-me and then spend my day sulking in my Lucky Charms — Actually most days I’m pretty happy with just getting something down on paper and not trying to over analyze the whole creative process.

      Now, having said all of that, there can only be one true Queen of the Hayride and that is obviously you. I’m more like the guy who follows behind the cart with that big shovel ;)

      Long live the Queen!

  10. says

    thank goodness. what a relief to be able to admit to being human. It is such hard work trying to be non judgemental, encouraging, gracious, optimistic, nice etc etc. etc. perhaps 5 mins a day should be treated like a cream cake ( another “bad thing”) where you get to be as mean , nasty and horrid as possible, in private, breathe a sigh of relief after getting it all out and then relax and get on with life without needing to keep all these feelings at bay. I think, though i may be wrong, that it takes a lot of energy to ignore the er less acceptable parts of ourselves.

    • Drew says

      Thanks for stopping by Anne and sharing your thoughts with us :)

      You’re right, it is nice to be able to admit being human and I’m with you on your whole “cream cake” theory as long as there is some actual cream cake involved. I also agree with you that it takes a lot of energy to ignore the less acceptable parts of ourselves instead of dealing with them directly. I just sometimes have to question the wisdom of sharing these faults of mine with entire world….

      Amen, and pass the cream cake!

  11. says

    Candid post, drew. : )

    * How do you not get discouraged by all of this?

    I practice yoga and do my best to take yoga off the mat into my creative work and life. You can’t reach within, if looking out. You will fall off balance and not enjoy any thing and everything seems more challenging than it is. So, I don’t get discouraged because I am one of the many who is doing their best to share what is within.

    * How do you get past that nagging feeling that somehow it has all been done before?

    I wrote about the antidote to ‘anxiety of influence’ in one of my still sundays:

    Much uniqueness is lost for the sake of originality. Full post here: http://annieqsyed.com/2010/07/still-sundays-7/

    And then again shared some thoughts by T.S. Eliot on the subject here.

    http://annieqsyed.com/2010/12/still-sundays-29/

    if you decide to read any of the posts as and when or if time allows, i believe Eliot is more on point given your questions than Walker in the first still sundays post. : )

    * How do you celebrate in the success of others without getting down on yourself?

    I am inspired and share on–what else is inspiration? : )

    * How do you not beat yourself up for losing focus and wasting so much time along the way?

    Practice. : )

    ~gratitude,

    ~a.q.s.

    • Drew says

      It’s always a pleasure to see you here Annie!

      I’m not sure if “candid post” is code for I’m-really-suprised-you-decided-to-share-this-online-but-it-could-be-an-inspiration(or warning)-to-others — or what-the-hell-were-you-thinking-sharing-your-petty-insecurities-with-the-world?! I think I’m going to go with what’s behind Door #1 ;)

      I’ve talked to several people about this, and like you, almost all of them mentioned the importance of doing some type of physical exercise (yoga, walking, running, kick-boxing) as a way of getting out of your own head for awhile. I know that after sitting in front of a computer screen for several hours, I need to get outside and do something (anything) before I start second-guessing everything I have just written.

      I also really like your thoughts on the futile nature of originality. Every week I look forward to reading your “Still Sundays” posts because it seems increasingly rare these days to find something online that really challenges you to think and perhaps see things from an entirely new perspective.

      Shine on my friend!

  12. says

    Wonderful post, Drew. I really enjoy this kind of down-to-earth honesty. It invites sharing without shame. I have to align here with Annie in that my own spiritual practice, which is a daily practice allows me to look within. I like to keep the focus on all the movements that are taking place inside my frame instead of that which is happening outside of it.

    Comparing oneself to others is a killer. I know. I’ve been there….outside the frame. I am a self-taught artist and remember those moments comparing myself with artists who all had an art education, creative support, a network, and tons of exhibitions behind them. I had an MA in film studies but what to do with all my film knowledge and contacts when what I wanted was to make art. I looked to the art school artists as being the real artists (even if I didn’t like their work) and to myself as a wanna be only because I didn’t go to art school or take art classes. Ridiculous now when I think about it but back then these thoughts were very real. Quickly into my process, I realized that we determine everything with the powers of our minds. The mind is a deceptive and tricky place.

    Today, I can really say that I’ve come to that beautiful point where I take such pride in my own process. My work is part of my personal path, as is the work of others part of theirs. The creative gift is not the destination but the journey! The process is the path. There is nothing left to compare nor is there anything to prove.
    ART=PROCESS ☺

    Thank you, Drew, for your wonderful spirit of inspiration!
    ~naomi

    • Drew says

      Thank you Naomi for your kind words — I think “Sharing without Shame” could become the new tagline for this site!

      I agree with you and Annie that daily practice is so important because it is this daily re-focusing that reminds us to look within rather than constantly searching for the approval of others. The mind is indeed a deceptive and tricky place, and in my case, a wee bit frightening as well…

      I think that we are all at different points on this path towards self-acceptance. Everyday we must continue to fight in order to keep that little green-eyed bastard away. Unfortunately, it’s not a quick process and it seems that for every small step I may take down this path, there is always something new to test my resolve.

      Art = Process = Life

      Live your Art! :)

  13. Shelly says

    Thanks for your article Drew and for bringing to light the negative emotions that I feel constantly. I am so relieved to learn that I am not alone in these thoughts.
    A friend of mine has been winning some huge prizes for her work and whilst I do not believe that she is better than me and do fully appreciate that she works darn hard for it, the feelings of inadequacy I have are huge. Instead of being able to channel this positively, I end up miserable and paralysed. I simply want to retreat and my inner voice saying “what’s the point” takes a while to ignore.
    This is so counter productive I know
    I also beat myself up badly for the latter point you make. Time seems to fly past and my time management skills are not good. Some days i look back at what I have achieved and really get annoyed with myself. But I am always on the go and doing different things so it’s not as if I’m doing nothing. Just not sure how much of it is really constructive and necessary.
    I agree that comparing oneself to others is not a good thing to do and when I relax and realise that this is my life and I can only live it the way that is natural to me, then I am happy and open again. Looking inward and not outward is exactly the right thing to do. But it takes a lot of energy to change the direction of my thoughts in this way.
    Perhaps I should get some happy pills!!!

    • Drew says

      First of all, thank you for admitting to having these feelings. It is nice to know that there are still some actual human beings out there. I hate to go crazy by myself ;)

      I think so many of us try to put on our brave little confident mask whenever we’re out in public that we start to forget that everyone else is wearing the same ridiculous mask as us. Eventually we start buying into the illusion that everyone else has got their act together and that we alone seem to be the only social misfits left in the world.

      It’s only when one of us is willing to admit to having some of these not-so little insecurities, that we can have an honest conversation like this and discover that we’re not the only one out there feeling these things. Sure this article might make me sound like a petty insecure sniveling little whiner, but in the end it’s still the truth. I’ve given up trying to maintain a facade of public perfection (or even competence) long ago. In fact, when I see someone else doing their nothing-but-sunshine ego dance online, I often find myself tuning them out because I know in some way they are just not being honest with themselves or us. If you read the biographies of the greatest writers, musicians, and artists you’ll discover that not one of them (except perhaps Picasso) was nearly as confident as they appeared to be. Of course maybe I’m completely wrong (surprise) and all of you are out there sipping rainbows and riding unicorns in your happy place. . .

  14. Shelly says

    Looking back at what Angie wrote on 3 May, again I am hugely grateful! This sums up exactly how I feel. The guilt and frustration are overwhelming me just now. AAArgh. Guilt really is a useless emotion but also very destructive. I have also realised that failing to meet ones own expectations is possibly one of the hardest states of mind to redress.

    “As far as wasting time – I think we all find that happens. It’s another thing that used to drive me crazy and make me feel guilty. But now, whatever I’m wasting my time doing, I make sure I’m enjoying every minute of it while I’m wasting it : ) Life’s too short to waste time worrying about wasting time. We all do it. ”

    Thanks for talking sense Angie :-)

  15. says

    I like my jealousy because it gives me hints about where I want to go. Instead of getting caught up in coveting or in pretending as though I don’t covet, I go after the thing that is causing me to covet. My jealousy gives me new leads.

    Also, just because everything has been done doesn’t mean it’s been done by you!

    • Drew says

      I think you’re right, those feelings of jealousy and insecurity are able to give us valuable hints about what we may need to explore next but only if we are willing to listen and acknowledge the message they are sending. What do they always say — acceptance is the first step towards growth. Instead of beating ourselves up for having these feelings, we should try to as you say “go after the thing that is causing me to covet.” Far easier said than done of course, but then again the most important things in life usually are…

      Your last line reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by the writer Andre Gide who wrote “Everything’s already been said, but since nobody was listening, we have to start again.”

      Thanks again Gwenn for sharing your thoughts with us!

    • Chloe says

      Off topic but I really like your name. Sometimes I try to write books and my mane characters name always is gwenndolen but I call her gwenn

      On topic I really found what you said helpful. I never thought of jealoussy as a drive, I’ve often used the saying if you want to be the best learn from the best, but the way you put it gave the saying a new perspective. You see I’m not that old, only in High School but along with drawing I really like to dance. Im probly the worst there but theres a girl in my class and at first I just had to stare at her when she danced then as the world went aroud I really started disliking her as a person, saying to myself that shes so much better than me, so much more talented, and even though I personally dont like to tell people but shes sooooo much prettyer than me and its petty and snobish sounding but dont lie, that kinda thing get ya down. That went on for almost a year, eventually I started copying her with her dancing, some of her choices, and also her style lol, but this year I stopped all of that. It was a new year by dogonit I was gunna change. So now Im as me as it gets but to tie into my point Im alot better dancer now because I wasnt doing just enough to get by, I was striving to be what I was sucked into and alothough as far as I know that girl doesnt know the half of it, she really made me a better dancer and I think that through that you could tie in that jealousy is one of the better motives, but to answer some of the other questions that I can relate to my story 1) Jealosy is beyong hard to not get discouraged by. Im often discouraged. I dont do yoga and I dont do dance to get my mind off of it but sometime blasting the music in my ears or just watching some T.V. is helpful. What I would do is if Im so down on myself about my art thatday, although I say I’m really good opposed to the fact that I know Im not as good as I want to believe, my gloomy input will be my gloomy out put and my finished result will not come out as good as I want it to if I cant have some feeling other than I suck. I think theres alot of research on that topic about such as why grandmas cookies are best because they’re baked with love, and chineese sayings about your attitude. so theres question 1 for ya.
      2) If its all been done before and you thing it has, it has. That nagging feeling is correct, but just because your favorite actors have been cast in all of shakespere’s plays doesnt meen you dont want your name on that playbill and gosh darn it your name better be spelled right this time. When its been done before your mind can attatch to it I think, then it can incorperate a bunch of other stuff thats been done before too, maybe itl turn out to be something new, maybe its been done before to, but it doesnt have there name on it, it has yours. It has you signature marks all over it and it has your touch based on your personality and previous experiences, and no one else can say that exact same thing truthfully. I hope that helped, I feel like this one really pertains to me and I oughta take my own advice.
      3) This one’lbe short. Remember how I copied that girl in dance? Although personally I hate it, it is said that mimicing is the higest form of flattery. if they’re your frienf put on a mask and slip in a joke sometimes about how jealous you are of them, i mean come on, your jealous but theyre still your friend. If you see them online, fan art seems nice, I’ve yet to get any myself but I dont have art online, but it seems nice from a third party perspective.
      4)Oh Boy my friend, thats a tricky one. I guess all you can do is not cry over spilled milk and just accept that because parhaps art wasnt your main interest at that point in time, that you got some other information out of it in the process. I feel like kicking myself alot for it but then I think of how old I am and feel a little better about it because I can always still learn what ever I missed. Ya gotta remember Im still in school and can always take a class next year or switch my schedual. I feel like I’ve wasted alot of time so far but I can only do so much and i can only see so far into the long run. Im pretty close to graduationg but I can still think back to 3rd grade and remember how I though 9+ more years of school are a looonnngg ways away but now Im worried about how speedy life is goin past school and into the real world. Point is normally your brain isnt capable of seing that far into the future. I sometimes think that next year every year eveything will jump into futuristic high tech world and we’ll all dress in neon white but it hasnt happened yet but my brain inst capable of telling me how next year is going to go and what ill wwant to do or what i’ll want for lunch November 22nd. It just cant. you just have to think tha during the time you were experimenting with other things you still learned what you needed to while you were deciding what path to take. and from my little knowledge on you, I think you did but now you’ve gotta say to your self that nows as good a time as ever and go ahead and take those art classes you wanted to take, and all that or in 10-15 years you’ll be beating yourself up about how you didnt accomplish what you wanted to and lost focus again. Some times when your glass is half empty, ya just gotta go walk over to the faucit and get some more water, or you could just try and be all smart and cool and look at your glas and say at least i’ve got some water, who care how much is in it, but im not good at that, how ever if you ask me to get u a drink ill get you a nice clean pretty cup and pusome ice and cool water in and a cute bendy straw. If im good at anything, its gettin water lol, now that was pretty off subject but in the metaphore I am saying that if you dont like what you’ve got go embelish it, change it, maybe refresh it and make it cool and all so you can look at and go thats not half way empty thats as full and fresh as it gets, water or real subject… or maybe real water. I dont know of your tap water skills maybe they need work and you need to fill the glass more cuz ur still thirsty when your done with it lol. so i guess thats all your questions. I feel like you’ve enlightened me by telling me to tell you what to do which also told me to get it together and see it from my third party observer perspective instead of participant. so anywaysthanks alot! I hope one day we can ya know chat or something because you seem pretty cool and have alot of the same feelings I do. I dont know if you can read this from a comment on someone elses comment so I’m gonna post it again but if you see both coment on the one not this one lol. umm ok bye!

  16. Chloe says

    (In responce to gwenn) On topic I really found what you said helpful. I never thought of jealoussy as a drive, I’ve often used the saying if you want to be the best learn from the best, but the way you put it gave the saying a new perspective. You see I’m not that old, only in High School but along with drawing I really like to dance. Im probly the worst there but theres a girl in my class and at first I just had to stare at her when she danced then as the world went aroud I really started disliking her as a person, saying to myself that shes so much better than me, so much more talented, and even though I personally dont like to tell people but shes sooooo much prettyer than me and its petty and snobish sounding but dont lie, that kinda thing get ya down. That went on for almost a year, eventually I started copying her with her dancing, some of her choices, and also her style lol, but this year I stopped all of that. It was a new year by dogonit I was gunna change. So now Im as me as it gets but to tie into my point Im alot better dancer now because I wasnt doing just enough to get by, I was striving to be what I was sucked into and alothough as far as I know that girl doesnt know the half of it, she really made me a better dancer and I think that through that you could tie in that jealousy is one of the better motives, but to answer some of the other questions that I can relate to my story 1) Jealosy is beyong hard to not get discouraged by. Im often discouraged. I dont do yoga and I dont do dance to get my mind off of it but sometime blasting the music in my ears or just watching some T.V. is helpful. What I would do is if Im so down on myself about my art thatday, although I say I’m really good opposed to the fact that I know Im not as good as I want to believe, my gloomy input will be my gloomy out put and my finished result will not come out as good as I want it to if I cant have some feeling other than I suck. I think theres alot of research on that topic about such as why grandmas cookies are best because they’re baked with love, and chineese sayings about your attitude. so theres question 1 for ya.
    2) If its all been done before and you thing it has, it has. That nagging feeling is correct, but just because your favorite actors have been cast in all of shakespere’s plays doesnt meen you dont want your name on that playbill and gosh darn it your name better be spelled right this time. When its been done before your mind can attatch to it I think, then it can incorperate a bunch of other stuff thats been done before too, maybe itl turn out to be something new, maybe its been done before to, but it doesnt have there name on it, it has yours. It has you signature marks all over it and it has your touch based on your personality and previous experiences, and no one else can say that exact same thing truthfully. I hope that helped, I feel like this one really pertains to me and I oughta take my own advice.
    3) This one’lbe short. Remember how I copied that girl in dance? Although personally I hate it, it is said that mimicing is the higest form of flattery. if they’re your frienf put on a mask and slip in a joke sometimes about how jealous you are of them, i mean come on, your jealous but theyre still your friend. If you see them online, fan art seems nice, I’ve yet to get any myself but I dont have art online, but it seems nice from a third party perspective.
    4)Oh Boy my friend, thats a tricky one. I guess all you can do is not cry over spilled milk and just accept that because parhaps art wasnt your main interest at that point in time, that you got some other information out of it in the process. I feel like kicking myself alot for it but then I think of how old I am and feel a little better about it because I can always still learn what ever I missed. Ya gotta remember Im still in school and can always take a class next year or switch my schedual. I feel like I’ve wasted alot of time so far but I can only do so much and i can only see so far into the long run. Im pretty close to graduationg but I can still think back to 3rd grade and remember how I though 9+ more years of school are a looonnngg ways away but now Im worried about how speedy life is goin past school and into the real world. Point is normally your brain isnt capable of seing that far into the future. I sometimes think that next year every year eveything will jump into futuristic high tech world and we’ll all dress in neon white but it hasnt happened yet but my brain inst capable of telling me how next year is going to go and what ill wwant to do or what i’ll want for lunch November 22nd. It just cant. you just have to think tha during the time you were experimenting with other things you still learned what you needed to while you were deciding what path to take. and from my little knowledge on you, I think you did but now you’ve gotta say to your self that nows as good a time as ever and go ahead and take those art classes you wanted to take, and all that or in 10-15 years you’ll be beating yourself up about how you didnt accomplish what you wanted to and lost focus again. Some times when your glass is half empty, ya just gotta go walk over to the faucit and get some more water, or you could just try and be all smart and cool and look at your glas and say at least i’ve got some water, who care how much is in it, but im not good at that, how ever if you ask me to get u a drink ill get you a nice clean pretty cup and pusome ice and cool water in and a cute bendy straw. If im good at anything, its gettin water lol, now that was pretty off subject but in the metaphore I am saying that if you dont like what you’ve got go embelish it, change it, maybe refresh it and make it cool and all so you can look at and go thats not half way empty thats as full and fresh as it gets, water or real subject… or maybe real water. I dont know of your tap water skills maybe they need work and you need to fill the glass more cuz ur still thirsty when your done with it lol. so i guess thats all your questions. I feel like you’ve enlightened me by telling me to tell you what to do which also told me to get it together and see it from my third party observer perspective instead of participant. so anywaysthanks alot! I hope one day we can ya know chat or something because you seem pretty cool and have alot of the same feelings I do. so umm ok bye!

  17. says

    A very wise friend once said to me that jealousy comes from the idea that there is not enough to go around. Part of it is the current model of our art/rewards system, but it’s true that if we accept and let go of those expectations, we can allow the universe to meet us on the path we’re meant to be on. Mostly, spiritual mumbo-jumbo aside, my jealousy comes from fear: fear of not being enough or having enough or being recognized in this lifetime. It’s usually when I forget the joy is in the journey itself.

    • says

      You’re absolutely right Kyrsten and you obviously hang around with some very smart people. I think simply recognizing the fact that our fear and jealousy comes not from others, but from our own perception of the world around us. When we see the world as You win/I lose then of course we are subconsciously setting up a competitive relationship with our fellow creative artists. On the other hand, when we are able to shift our perspective, we can begin to understand how helping others can ultimately help ourselves. As I’ve said before, however, doing this is obviously far easier to say than do.

  18. says

    Great post! This is something I have been struggling with all my life. I’m not sure how many of you have heard of the personality typing system called The Enneagram, but according to its theory, envy is the fatal flaw of the personality type most common among artists, type 4. So I do believe that is a big part of it. Also, I agree with Kyrsten’s statement about jealousy coming “from the idea that there is not enough to go around.”

    And for a long time I allowed my envy of others to get in the way of my life. The job market was bad when I graduated from college, and I was jealous of people who had better jobs than I did. I worked in high end retail and was paid on commission, and every morning they would make an announcement about the top ten sales people in the store. It was supposed to motivate us, but all it did was make me jealous. I was even jealous of the customers because they could afford to buy the beautiful designer products I was selling. I went back to school for interior design and couldn’t find a job again because I graduated just in time for the housing market to decline. And I was so jealous of the designers on HGTV that I stopped watching it! And then for a while I even gave up watching the news entirely because I was so jealous of all the young, accomplished people being featured in the “30 under 30″ or “overnight success” stories. And I was so jealous of everyone I went to school with (many of whom are doctors & lawyers now) that it took me forever to join social media, and I skipped a few reunions as well.

    I did have a few wake-up calls, like when I overheard one of the customers I was envious of make a cell phone call in which I learned that she was buying the big, expensive designer silk scarf from me because she had cancer and was about to lose her hair to chemotherapy. I realized then that you never know how hard other people’s lives really are, even when on the outside they appear to “have it all.” I realized that my jealousy was getting in the way of me living my life. I had shut myself off from opportunities to network, to learn, and to be inspired. Reading The Artist’s Way really helped me. And so did focusing more on my process of painting than on success, fame, and money. But I still have fits of jealousy from time to time. So I think being aware of it and trying to change that habit is going to be a lifelong process for me.

    • says

      I think you’re right Tiffany that so many of us get wrapped up in our own little insecurity drama that we can sometimes forget that everyone else has their own set of problems and insecurities that they are dealing with themselves. I think it was Emerson who said that envy is simply ignorance in disguise. I really appreciate you sharing your story with us because I think it helps the rest of us understand that we’re not alone in this. We all have the same kinds of crazy stuff running through our heads. You couldn’t stand to watch HGTV and I couldn’t stand to read a great novel because it hurt too much to realize that others have already achieved what we want someday for ourselves. Instead of using their success as a template or a model for our own future success, we bury our heads and wallow in our own self-pity. Fortunately it does get better, and honestly it’s comments like yours and support from this creative community that helps me (and hopefully others) to understand that this is simply part of the larger creative process. Maybe it’s just the whole misery-loves-company thing or maybe it’s the fact that over time we realize that it’s not really about us after all.

  19. AJ says

    I hate it because I don’t get why.
    I can feel anger and sorrow but jealousy is just one of those things that don’t make sense. It’s one of those feelings I wish I could avoid, It’s more of a burden then a choice.
    One thing I’ll never do is descourage or destroy something or someone when feeling little bit of jealousy, the only thing I harm is myself.
    It’s more of a defence mechanism. For example I love drawing and recently got into painting. I know I can be creative but I’m developing my technique. I rarely have time and spend my money on bills. My art teachers were alcoholics and I couldn’t take up art because I failed it at schooll. Not matter how much I’ love to take a workclass, I can’t because I’m very socially anxious and I feel as if I don’t fit in, I am severely shy.

    So my niece and cousin were showing off their artwork on facebook and it just made me insecure because they are really good at their age and I feel i need to be good at it because it was the only thing I did freely without caring but now I care too much on what people think and so shy away from it and don’t like to show my sketchbook to people and hardly draw these days. Yet i feel this is what I feel I need to be good at to feel accepted.
    The immediate thoughts that come to mind are things like, I wish i had opportunities like them, kids are so lucky these days. My chances were limited I wish I was more clear headed, I wish my school was better and had better equipment.
    Just all these thoughts of how you could have or wished you had and it can be destructive.

    • says

      You’re right AJ it doesn’t really make sense.

      I mean if you think about it, you can kind of understand the value of “fear” because in the right (or wrong) situation can get our Spidey senses tingling and help us to avoid an actual dangerous situation. Now of course, 9 times out of 10 that sense of fear is just in our own head, but in theory it can save us from serious harm.

      Jealousy on the other hand, seems kind of useless as an evolutionary response. Maybe it goes back to the whole survival of the fittest thing where those who were the most ambitious got the mate and passed on their ambitious DNA to their descendants. Maybe it goes back to our fear of isolation and being left out of the group. Whatever the reason I think it’s a bit strange that I can understand and accept something so logically in my brain (jealousy is stupid) but I’m still having to beat the green-eyed bastard into submission on a regular basis because it just won’t go away.

      I think you’re absolutely right that this type of creative jealousy can be very destructive and it’s so much of an emotional issue that using facts and logic doesn’t really make it go away. The only thing that has helped me are discussions like this that make you realize that you’re not alone. I think part of the destructive process are the feelings of guilt and pettiness that comes from being jealous. Once you realize, however, that everyone deals with this issue to some degree, you can kind of accept it more as simply a part of life and not some horrible defect in your personal character.

  20. TamyFae says

    I’ve discovered Skinny Artist only yesterday night, and since then I’ve been reading articles non-stop. I feel the pressing need to share my gratitude towards Skinny Artist and the team behind it. It’s helping me during one tough period where everything I do seems to be for nothing, and as such my art is suffering because of it.

    I loved reading this article because it’s something we all suffer from, at varying degrees. Drew, I really feel you should write a self-help book for artists. I mean, your articles are always so pleasant, entertaining and adorable (honestly!).

    Ok, so now that I got that off my chest, I can now return to the endless mind-wrecking process of producing Art.

    Cheers.

    • says

      Thanks so much TamyFae for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us! Speaking of mind-wrecking processes, I would try to pace yourself on the articles because I’ve been told that a little of my writing goes a long way….or was it a lot of my writing goes nowhere — something like that. Anyway, just be careful out there digging through the Skinny archives ;)

      Thanks again for your kind words and I hope you create something extraordinary today!

  21. Jessica says

    Recently I’ve realized that being on social media – while useful – can also really bring me down. I sometimes feel behind seeing other people’s stuff and frankly it’s just a waste of time because I should be working on my own stuff! Anyway I decided to read Skinny Artist tonight instead. :)

    I think the way to beat negative thoughts, including jealousy, is to practice gratitude and compassion. Recognize what you do have and give yourself credit for what you have done. Compassion is key because when you see that everyone has their battles and everyone also has a bit of god or whatever-you-want-to-call-it in them it just sort of gives you a more peaceful and productive perspective. I also believe you have to decide to be happy. “Mood follows action” so if you are in a rut you should exercise or go out in nature or make something or do something kind/behave in a positive way until you really do feel good.

    Also, stay off of Facebook and schedule time to work properly! That’s my advice to myself. :)

    I read this this morning. It seemed fitting:

    Noble thoughts are like sweet perfume,
    Ever refreshing to our mind and heart,
    While impure thoughts rise as noxious vapors to poison our soul and paralyze our mind’s truer sense.
    -Swami Paramananda, Book of Daily Thoughts and Prayers, April 10

    Practice the noble thoughts! I believe the noble thoughts will help the art.

    • says

      You’re absolutely right Jessica, social media can not only be a serious time suck, but it can make you feel like you’re just sitting there admiring other people’s stuff when you should be working on your own art (although you should always make time to read Skinny Artist ;) ) I deal with this a lot myself and I know that I go back and forth all the time on the overall “value” of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. At the same time, however, I’ve met a lot of incredible people who have helped me through a lot of those creative funks.

      One thing that I often have to remind myself is that nobody (well almost nobody) posts their screwups or reports of their creatively sucky day, instead they posts their good stuff and their positive news — that’s just human nature I suppose. After all, who wants to sit down and read about someone constantly whining and complaining about their creative shortcomings…. I mean besides the insightful articles here on this particular site of course :) In other words, we generally only hear about the good things that happen to other people, which of course when we are banging our head on the keyboard or staring at a blank canvas, can make us feel like these “good things” are only happening to other people.

      I completely agree with you that we also need to remember that everyone has their own personal battles to fight and their fight is not our own. So instead of feeling envious of them, we need to feel more compassion (and yes gratitude) for the progress we have already made.

      Thanks again Jessica for taking the time to share your thoughts with us!

  22. says

    I am struggling with just such emotions this morning and so I did what any sensible person looking to deal with an issue like this would do. I googled it and your article came up at the top the list. I’m not sure I’m ready to publicly share my own feelings around this subject it is something that weighs on my heavily. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for making the rest of us feel a little less crazy.

  23. Guest says

    For me it manifests as questions like why must Angry Birds be popular enough as to now have a feature film on the way while I struggle to get my long developed creations out there?

    Sadly I’ve not become good at dealing with it. I run, hide, pretend my “competition” doesn’t exist, and just begrudgingly work harder hoping to some day catch up or surpass them. Bad habit I know, but now I know I’m not alone in the struggle. Hope we can all find the answer. :)

  24. says

    I’m jealous of all your huge Legion of Fans/Followers/Groupies and hundreds of blog post comments, Drew. ;)
    Hope you’re well mate and have a great weekend.

    Ps. when you coming over to bonnie Scotland for a wee visit? I’ll take you to all the best watering holes in the toon.

    • says

      Honestly Trevor I think they’re just all waiting for you to stop by and bring the drinks :)

      It’s always great to hear from you my friend and one of these days, I’m going to hop across the big pond and take you up on your offer. Cheers!

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