day nineteen: the trap of jealousy

Writing can be a pretty desperate endeavor, because it is about some of our deepest needs: our need to be visible, to be heard, our need to make sense of our lives, to wake up & grow & belong - Anne Lamott

There was a season in my life where despite my greatest efforts, I couldn't be happy for the fellow writers in my life when they gained notoriety. I'd hear about some blogging award or possible publishing deal or various other recognitions and I could feel the heat of jealousy creep into my bones.

This isn't a fun way to live. 

Especially when every where I turned, someone else was getting noticed in a field where I desperately wanted to be seen. 

Jealousy is a trap for numerous reasons, but mostly because it keeps you from creating. In those moments where I'm feeling confused and frustrated and disgusted — both at my reaction and the success of another person — there is no room left for artistic connection. 

Jealousy opens wide the door for comparison, and when I compare, I lose my inspiration. When I compare, I lose sight of the story that's my own and begin to share the story of another person, wearing it as though it fits. 

It never does.

Now, I know that jealousy can serve as a map. That often, when I feel that white-hot rush filling my chest, I can trace the roots back to something within myself. 

So the jealousy surrounding a friend's publishing deal really points to the discontent within myself that I haven't been writing like I know I should. Or the other friend snagging a spot on the bestseller list forces me to ask myself if I'm owning my story in the way I am meant to own it. 

Because the truth? I have everything I need to be seen and belong. There are people within arm's reach who love and support me and listen as I brainstorm and vent and plot and process through my words. And when I resist jealousy's pull of taking me over completely and instead choose to celebrate the success of a fellow writer, the belonging follows. 

We're all in this together. Different stories — different paths — but each and every one of us knows the threat of rolling our eyes when (fill in the blank) gets another deal or when (fill in the blank) gets recognized. That's when the fragmentation occurs. That's when confusion sets in to our bones. We begin to question and give up and kick ourselves restless because why? 

Often, it's because we're not fully allowing our story to take root as it needs to — we're comparing someone else's notes with our own and expecting us to be on the same page.

When really, we're nowhere close. Two different people with two different stories who happen to hold the same heartbeat: the way words make us feel as we spill them on the page.

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Posted on October 19, 2014 and filed under indie publishing, writing.