One Question for You

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Yesterday was a bad day. I won’t go in to the details, but basically I let something really get to me that shouldn’t have.

I ended the day talking to Jeff about other people’s success and whether or not I was rightfully angry or just jealous in this particular situation. And as it turns out, it was a little of both.

So, I have a question to ask all of you (and if you follow me on twitter you already know what the question is). You may answer it here in the comments (anonymous is okay too) or send me your response directly at brittni(at)papernstitch(dot)com for a future post here on the blog.

Have you ever felt jealous or threatened by another person’s success?

29 comments | Click here to reply

Hi, this is a really interesting question and honestly I have never felt jealous or threatened by another’s success because I always think they must have worked hard to get there. Not always true I know as sometimes it’s being in the right place at the right time. Lately though I have felt very mad at myself for not using my creativity earlier, say in my twenties, to do something with my life that I really love. I am not complaining because I have a good life all in all, but just sometimes I may be a little green when I see someone’s success and I think that could have been me. That said, I am still going to have a go now at 42 and to be honest it feels good. If I make a success (in my eyes and no-one else’s) I will be happy! Jane : )

Jane Cardie | June 15th, 2010 at 5:27 pm

it happens to me a lot but i usually recognize it and redirect it into something positive as quickly as i can. i think it comes with the territory in the creative world, that constant questioning of ones abilitys and worth. you have a great thing going here and you have helped a lot of people so keep that in mind.

patrick andrew adams | June 15th, 2010 at 5:27 pm

of course!!!! of course!!!! of course!!!!
is completely normal and also kind of healthy (:

of course!!!! | June 15th, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Oh- of course, I have. I agree with “Of Course” that it’s also normal and healthy. Maybe not totally rational but I think we all go through that. Let it boost you up to work, work, work!!

One of my favorite quotes is this:
It’s never too late to be who you might have been.

Janie- I also wish I had done more with my art at a younger age. πŸ™‚

Cheryl @ House of Shine | June 15th, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Of course I’ve felt pangs of jealousy here and there, but most of the time I try to be calm and remind myself that there might not be anything to be jealous of. I don’t know the whole story. My version of success in my own life may be entirely different than someone else’s success, and just because someone else appears to be successful and happy doesn’t mean that what they’re doing would make me similarly happy. We all have to find our own way. It is hard when you see someone who seems to be doing what you want to do, and they seem to have found success with it, or they’ve gotten to it first, but that doesn’t mean you won’t also be successful in your own right in the end.

Mallory - Miss Malaprop | June 15th, 2010 at 5:50 pm

In a perfect world I would say, “of course not!” Guess what? We don’t live in a perfect world and we’re not all perfect. Because I’m human I have those feelings. Sometimes it’s so frustrating to see another’s success. But then when I stop and think and calm down I realize that lots of times it because they’re doing something that’s working and I need to work on what I do to better it. (that’s my nice thought to go along with the crummy thought. lol) So, cut yourself some slack. The feelings are always going to rise to the surface. Question is, what are you doing to do with them? They can sometimes be a positive thing if we channel them wisely (sometimes hard to do).

Boy, did that ever sound like a mommy post or what??? lol Sorry, I can just relate. Hope you’re feeling lots better today.

Lori | June 15th, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Yes! More often than I’d like, but I’ve been able to use it for great learning opportunities. What could I have done if I was presented the same opportunity (or how did I drop the ball)? How can I kick things up a notch and rock it anyway? What can I be doing better? Etc.

That said, there’s always one that will really get to me and I’m learning to deal with it more positively by refocusing on my my “raison d’etre,” niche, goals, etc.

After indulging in chocolate. πŸ™‚

Brenda | June 15th, 2010 at 5:57 pm

How great to be able to read through other people’s experiences, whatever the answers to this question may be.

Patrick- You are definitely on to something. The questioning of oneself and self doubt in your own abilities is what really drives that feeling of jealousy, isn’t it? I hadn’t thought of it in that way before.

Cheryl- I love that quote!

Mallory, Lori, and Brenda- Love what the three of you have to say on this topic. Really.

Absolutely, we all have to make the best of each situation we are given (or not given). And actually, today I woke up feeling much, much better and came up with an idea to begin working on, that I never would have thought of had I not had a mini melt down yesterday.

papernstitch | June 15th, 2010 at 6:11 pm

No, I don’t think I’ve been jealous or threatened by another personÒ€ℒs success.

When I see someone that got promoted at my job or a crafty chick making a living of for her indie biz I’m like, “what do I have to do to get that?”

It make s me work harder and not waste any time to get to the next stepping stone.

I do get upset when I see that someone’s quality of work is less than mine and they are getting all of the props. So I just try to do better at getting my stuff in front of as many eyes as I can.

If I do get a funky ‘tude it’ll only be for a moment and then I’ll plan my next step. You can’t be a hater. Haters get nowhere.

Hope this helps!

Jeanee | June 15th, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I have been grappling with a semi-secret jealously for about a year now (it’s semi-secret because I’m a terrible liar). I’m insanely jealous that my boyfriend and I moved to a new city together to “start over” a new life together and while I’ve been sending out resumes, been chained to temp agency typing pools, been running food and have had coffee grinds stuck under my barely-minimum-wage-earning barista fingernails for over a year now – he’s blissfully happy in an amazing, career building job that he loves. I have a selfish streak a mile wide that has always gotten me in trouble with long-term relationships before and I although I really am genuinely happy for him and his success, I get so damn jealous waiting for my time to shine. It’s frustrating to have to work at something governed by external forces to make sure our relationship holds together.

Kndis | June 15th, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Hm, I think a little jealousy once in awhile isn’t harmful, maybe even beneficial. (if you use it as a reason to improve like crazy) As long as you don’t get stuck in the funk of being constantly jealous and hurting yourself more than anything else. If you get over it and become better for it, you’re good. πŸ™‚

Threatened? Hm, that sounds serious. As an online shop owner I don’t feel threatened really because I feel the market is HUGE and ideally limitless – at least in my head. If someone else’s success is directly connected to someone’s “failure”, for eg. a shiny new Supermall ruining the Mom&Pop across the street, that is scary… but I don’t think the creative field is so much like that in general…

cindy | June 15th, 2010 at 6:16 pm

I have never found that anything good has come from comparing my successes to others. I say that because I always feel horrible after and it becomes a really vicious cycle, so much so that I start to focus more on that then what I should be doing to further grow creatively myself.
It hurts and it’s no fun, but I’ve done it many many times, and I think everyone has done it at least once.
Maybe the thing to remember in all of this is that no matter where we are in regards to success, there is probably someone who is looking at us and thinking that we are doing SO well. And maybe they have those pangs of jealousy towards us.

I don’t think I can address the part that you were angry about, since I don’t know the details, but the jealousy part I get. And I feel for you. It stinks. Just know I think you are awesome. =)

Shanon | June 15th, 2010 at 6:47 pm

ugh, it’s an awful feeling isn’t it? But yes, everyone does! My BFF has a great saying tho – and I abide by this now when I feel those feelings “There is success enough for everyone in this world” she is so right! There is some for you, for me, and for the person you are feeling a little “green” about.
*hug*

liz noonan | June 15th, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Woah! What a mega-coincidence!! Just this afternoon, a Twitter/Etsy/Jewelry friend of mine was excited about making it to 1000 sales. Well, I congratulated her and was happy ’till I noticed in her Etsy shop, that she started on Etsy just one year ago…the same time I started selling on there! She’s at 1000 sales and I’m at 94!!

I felt sad at first, but I’ve just decided to just pay more attention to what she’s doing. Not copy her or anything, but I noticed, for instance, that she had imported her blog into her facebook fan page, I didn’t even know I could! So I’m doing that πŸ™‚ And I’ll continue to be friendly with her and try to learn what I can about business from her stellar example!

I also found out that she does her jewelry business full time and I work two part-time jobs! I was thinking that she probably had some loyal customers built up beforehand and I didn’t have any at all. Anyway, thanks for sharing, ’cause this is the first time I’ve been in such a clear-cut position to compare myself to someone else like that!

Jenny Hoople | June 15th, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Of course! And sometimes it can ruin my entire day. However, a little sunshine, fresh air, laughter and time away from that situation usually put me back on track again.

Plus, you may already be successful in your own right, becos’ it ultimately comes down to what you define as success …

Glad you’re feeling better already.

Ange | June 15th, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Absolutely!! I’ve really only just started exploring myself through cardmaking, and at least once a day I think “This is STUPID. I’m NEVER going to be as good as so-and-so, I might as well GIVE UP.” Instead, I should be giving myself some credit for what I can do!!

Patrick is absolutely right in my opinion, it’s all based in self-perception and sense of worth… and being creative doesn’t help!

If it helps, I’m in complete admiration of your blog and your work. You’re fabulous! And most inportantly, you’re down to earth and seem so warm and caring. If I can achieve 1% of what you’re sharing on here, I’ll be happy!!

πŸ™‚

Danielle Daws | June 15th, 2010 at 7:35 pm

all the time, ALL THE TIME. The trick is to be aware of it so that it doesn’t get the best of you, so that it doesn’t get in the way of your creativity and so that you can nip it in the bud before you get yourself into trouble.

Tami | June 15th, 2010 at 10:05 pm

It’s normal to feel envious of someone else’s success. But sometimes you need to scratch beneath the surface to find out exactly why you feel like that. Have you discovered a book called The Artist’s Way. It has a program where you make a commitment to write every morning and you are free to spill out all the bad stuff. It’s empowering and I often find I start off complaining and end up looking for ways forward. xx

Beth Cregan | June 15th, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Great discussion in the comments section!
I agree with Brenda, and I think that you should be aware of the jeaousy, envy, anger and what that means. What is it about it that you are envious about? Is there are direction that you want to move your life towards? What steps do you need to take to get there? Are you willing to sacrifice to get there?
Then you do a reality check like Jenny Hoople did, and look at the bigger picture.
So impressed with what Jeanee had to say! So Zen!! She’s right, haters get no where. I like how she looks at herself to see what she needs to do to take it to another level. It’s empowering yourself, rather than feeling disempowered (is that a word?!?!) and helpless because of another’s success.
All the best! (you have got a lot of support here, so that is something to be really proud of!)

Meeks | June 15th, 2010 at 11:46 pm

I feel that way; I think you’re normal. πŸ™‚ Most of the time I get jealous because I am not able to do what that person does. For instance, all the design blogs I read–sometimes the blogger does awesome stuff and I’m jealous that I can’t get out there and do that. But then I wonder what is stopping me. I have some other friends who have virtually done nothing to get where they’re at (a stroke of serious luck, perhaps?) and I wonder why I have to work so hard to try and get to that same spot when it was just handed to them. So I think those feelings come and go, but yes, I feel them more often than I’d like.

Erin | June 16th, 2010 at 12:19 am

Yes, I’ll admit to having felt jealous and threatened by someone else’s success. As others have said it’s normal to feel this way, it’s in our nature… not that I’m saying that makes it right!

I’m in the process of starting my own business (jewellery design) and sometimes I become overwhelmed by the amount of talent out there. There is one girl in particular who has oodles of success (and talent!) and I have been envious of her in the past. But feelings like jealously only ever come from our own insecurities.

Nem | June 16th, 2010 at 2:41 am

YES!!! I don’t like these feelings at all so try to put them out of my mind, with well practiced success. However, when I am tired or sad this is more difficult. Then I get into a major funk. After realizing, and rationalizing, and taking a PM pill and getting a good night’s sleep, I can usually brush it off and keep going. I am truly happy for the other person’s success and the funk just hold me back. Every one gets their 5 minutes of fame– When I started my business I had to convince myself that the more the merrier, there is room for everyone, different strokes for different folks, I just kept going.

My advise- the one thing I try to follow- Breath deep and pay attention to what you are doing- be the best you can- all will be well.

Good luck, and don’t let the funk ruin your creativity. Listen to some new music (loud) and dance in a new day!

And Hey!!!– You are a Rock Star!!! Don’t forget it

Lawre | June 16th, 2010 at 6:17 am

good question and very relevant for bloggers especially. so my answer is yes, i think it’s natural but i think how we react to that feeling is more important than simply feeling it because emotions like jealousy are simply going to happen regardless of a persons general graciousness. i think it’s especially bothersome if a person receives quick success and maybe you feel like the individual hasn’t earned or has obtained success by morally questionable means.
either way, you can only control your own reaction- my advice is to feel it, think through it, try to understand why it is you’re feeling the way you’re feeling than make a choice to move on and put it behind you. hang in there.

Down and Out Chic | June 16th, 2010 at 9:24 am

I have scanned through all the responses so far (here and via email) and I wanted to thank everyone for their sincere responses. I’ll be emailing some of you over the next couple of days to ask if its okay to use your response in an upcoming post.
-Brittni

papernstitch | June 16th, 2010 at 11:15 am

Of course.

I’d like to elaborate on it, too, in relation to art and the internet. To start, I have a BFA in printmaking and illustration. I learned to sew when I was 10, which was 15 years ago and I have never stopped. I’ve independently studied fiber arts for years. In all areas, I’ve perfected many a technique and the quality of the results are noticeable. Not to toot my own horn, but I am a humble person who takes pride in these abilities, and not much else. I don’t like being the center of attention, but I do like being appreciated when credit is due.

Over the years I’ve worked really, really hard to make beautiful things that require love, patience, skills developed over years of trial and error, and more often than not beautiful materials. I’ll bring Etsy to the table because it’s on the forefront of online shopping right now.
I find it exhausting to watch certain Etsy “crafters” making a mint off mediocre quality items, when the things I make (all reasonably priced and 99% of the time making myself lose money in the process) sit untouched for months, even though I spent 4 years in school studying my art, have actual understanding of artist processes and DO make gorgeous pieces (not from my own perspective). On top of this exhaustion, it leaves me incredibly angry. While I’ve celebrated my successes in other forums in the past, I feel a creeping deadening of my desire to make things to share with people – and it’s all because I’m seeing a majority of half assed attempts of things people call “art” being thrown around like it’s no big deal. While I realize my case here will differ from a majority of other people’s feelings, it is an example of how I am relating to your question. I’ve read a few responses that say they don’t get jealous of other people’s success because they assume those people have worked hard. Knowing a few people like that (the assumed hard workers), it is not always the case. I live with someone that I secretly resent because I CAN draw, she can’t, and there seems to be more of a demand for her pathetic attempts in illustration than the clearly talented versions of mine.

I guess all I can do to sum this up is note that I feel an increasing amount of pressure from “online communities” that are pushing out truly talented artists. I’m sure someone will want to argue that talent is objective, but honestly, I really don’t care to argue. From a fine arts perspective, I silently curse a lot of the showcased garbage I see around the majority of websites or blogs I visit.

Sorry if this sounds brutal, but I’m being as honest as I’ve ever been on the subject. I hope the honesty helps.

Anon | June 16th, 2010 at 5:35 pm

yes, its very normal and for some reason i have been feeling it even more lately. still, i dont like the feeling of being jealous of others but i think jealousy has its place in our lives. its what comes out of the jealousy that is what we should focus on.

gina | June 16th, 2010 at 7:04 pm

I actually just recently posted the same thing on my blog! It’s a really frustrating feeling to be jealous and made me question myself as a friend and whether or not I could continue the friendships if that was truly how I was feeling. We are our own worst critics and its a lot easier said than done to be confident in feeling successful and not compare yourself to others. But at the same time, in our society, its just realistic to think that we won’t compare ourselves to others – especially as women.

It clearly doesn’t do any good to dwell on the feelings as they only magnify if you do, so I try to remind myself often that I only have control over certain things, one of them being how I react to things. So in those times I have to summon the inner strength not to immediately throw myself a pity party and believe that all things happen for a reason and we are the master of our own destinies.

morgan | June 17th, 2010 at 10:02 am

absolutely!! AND, i’ve tried to use it as fuel to keep myself going. doesn’t always work out that way, but…

πŸ™‚

Elizabeth Rosemond | June 21st, 2010 at 1:43 am

[…] I posted about my mini-meltdown the week before last, I didn’t expect that I would get so many heartfelt responses back via […]

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