It can be difficult when everyone around you seems to be knocking it out of the park while you’re still just sitting on the bench. Not that you aren’t excited for your friends – of course you are! – but it can be hard pursuing a career in a creative field, especially in tough economic times.
So today I’m writing about one of the more unpleasant sides of that artistic dream, something I think we’ve all dealt with from time to time: the green-eyed monster, as it is so eloquently described.
In one of the great scenes from (one of my favorite TV shows) Parks and Recreation, Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) is trying to sincerely share warm wishes for her happy friends, while she is still in a place of self-improvement.
However, she finds that everything she says seems to be tinged with sarcasm, noting: “It’s really hard to say congrats without sounding sarcastic.”
And it is! It doesn’t matter how happy we are for our friends, when our careers are in a rut or our love lives are struggling, or whatever it may be, it’s tough not to take other people’s successes as our own shortcomings.
Hannah (Lena Dunham) fully documented this on the latest season of HBO’s Girls as well, leaving us with the amazing exchange between her and Ray (Alex Karpovsky) after Marnie (Allison Williams) shockingly announces her engagement:
“I’m so happy for everyone,” the pair stoically share, before Ray admits: “I’m faking it.”
“I’m faking everything,” Hannah responds.
An article on Psychology Today – an excerpt from How to Let Go of Negative Thoughts & Emotions – A Practical Guide – explained the problem behind these seemingly natural thoughts.
“When you find yourself envious of what someone else has, and feel jealous, inferior or inadequate as the result, you’re having a negative social comparison moment,” it said.
The article continued: “Habitual negative social comparisons can cause a person to experience greater stress, anxiety, depression, and make self-defeating choices.”
Plus, the article reminds readers that even the person you idolize still has flaws, just like you: “The Buddha reminds us that the four conditions in life which cause suffering are birth, aging, illness, and death.”
“No one, no matter how powerful, successful, wealthy, or fabulous they seem on the outside, can escape these truths. These conditions effectively make us all equal.”
It reminds me of something the ever-wise Taylor Swift once wrote in a sweet letter of advice to a fan: “Never compare myself to other people. It is comparing my behind the scenes to their highlight reel.”
The psychology article concludes by reminding readers of something we of course already know, but often forget: “The answers and our ability to realize them come from within. No external accomplishments, privileges, entitlements or materialism alone can achieve them.”
I’ll leave you with this: “I generally find that comparison is the fast track to unhappiness.” – Jack Canfield
Oh, and keep dreaming.
Until next time,