Creativity & Jealousy

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Okay, let’s talk about something. I’m going to go ahead and give you some advice that is both VERY GOOD / IMPORTANT and DIFFICULT TO FOLLOW.

Quit it with the jealousy.

It is human to feel jealous. It is stupid to let that jealousy run your life.

Here’s the thing - I have certainly felt jealous before. I feel it all the time. About everything. But what I feel (most of the time) is what I call supportive jealousy. It’s this thing where I see what someone else is doing, think it’s amazing, wish I could do it, and still figure out how to feel happy for them. Wild, huh? Vincent gets insane laughs on stage, is one of the most thoughtful coaches on the planet, plus has a beautiful wife and baby? Jealous as hell. (Sup, Cristina.) But HAPPY FOR HIM. My friend Mark writes solo material that makes me want to pull my own teeth out with a wrench because it’s so simultaneously smart and heartbreaking and hilarious - the worst thing he’s ever written is a hundred times better than the best thing I’ve ever written. Guess what? HAPPY FOR HIM. My friend Chuck (who my mother has referred to on multiple occasions as her favorite improviser… Ahem.) walks on stage and everyone is already laughing before Chuck even does anything. So jealous. SO HAPPY. Guess why?

There. Is. Room. For. All. Of. Us.

As long as I’m doing the work, there is room for what Vincent does and what Mark does and what Chuck does AND WHAT I DO. If I’m not doing the work? That’s when my jealousy gets ugly. Because surprise! It’s not really about how well someone else is doing. It’s about how not-well I’m doing. It’s about me feeling guilty because I’m not putting in the effort.

And if what I’m feeling is the other kind - the ugly kind of jealousy? Then I fucking do the work.

If you feel threatened by someone else’s success, there is exactly one thing for you to do: work harder.

Take a class. Read a book. Go to the gym. Watch a documentary. Write a solo piece. Start a new team.

Instead of being a jerk, make yourself better.

Actually, there’s also a second thing for you to do: stop being a jerk. Instead of muttering darkly about this jealousy-inducing person behind their back or claiming that they’re “not that good” when they really are or telling yourself that they didn’t deserve that thing they got that you wanted, maybe try telling them you think they’re wildly talented. One great way to get better is to play with people who are better than you are. If this person is better than you are, ask them if they’d want to work on something. Look at you! Being a good person and also getting better! Two birds! One stone! No jerks! Supportive jealousy!

I think that people in creative fields feel threatened easily because everything we do is personal. We aren’t crunching numbers or giving flu shots (both important things that I have no idea how to do) - we’re taking our most vulnerable and personal stuff and putting it on stage and hoping that people like it. When you think about it, that’s insane. So of course we’re going to get jealous sometimes. But use it in a productive way.

Be good. And get better.

cassidy russellComment