Tucson in June. My birthday month. It's hot out. Like—sweat seeps under your boobs before you step two feet outside the door kind of hot.
I'm heading for the mail—Amazon packages, always too much plastic. Nothing exciting. Wiper blades, dish soap, shaving razor refills. My legs haven't seen a blade in longer than I'd like to admit.
There's an envelop from my mom. What's this?
Out fall three locket necklaces, baby pictures of my brother and me. They're heavy and feel like magic.
I shake out a handful of high school senior glam photos. Wow, was I hot back then! Damn. No wonder they wanted me in the Air Force Academy.
And then, I find the book, sewing machine–bound and glued by hand. My first foray into indie publishing, written and illustrated by me, with my old name, back in first grade. Back when I still hated reading because words were so hard. Words are still hard. But how I loved stories. And still do.
The author friend
I have a friend whose cats I've cuddled, wedding I've celebrated, floor I've sprawled on, cupcakes I've gobbled, chickens I've wrangled, wife I've snuzzled--
words I've beta'ed and WIPs I've swapped.
K.A. Doore is one of the lucky, hardworking, impassioned lifelong writers who landed an agent and then a book deal. With Tor. Holy shit.
Check out her debut fantasy trilogy, coming soon to a bookstore near you.
I am SO. Incredibly, Jealous.
Cripplingly, paralyzingly, soaking-fully-clothed-in-my-bathtub-with-a-glass-of-wine jealous.
I can't seem to shake it. I've always been the jealous type, and it comes down to insecurity and lack of self-confidence—and I won't even throw in PTSD or childhood trauma, although that's there, too.
The climber friend
But as I've been thinking hard about my jealousy over my friend's success, hating myself for it, berating myself for it, I've interrogated some other places in my life where I've felt it. Where it's passed.
I have a friend whose falls I've caught, sends I've belayed, stories I've laughed at, relationship I've counseled, vulnerability I've held--
who got on my project and got through the hard, committing crux on her first go.
I felt SO. Incredibly. Jealous.
But this spike, after piercing me, passed through me. In, down, and out.
How to break jealousy's stranglehold
How did it pass? How did my jealousy soften and give way to another kind of emotional arousal? How did I transform "I can never be the strong climber she is" into "I want to be that strong and that brave and that beautiful on the rock! Look at her go!"?
Inspiration and jealousy are closely related opposites for me.
When I'm feeling jealous, it's often because the thing that I want, that I'm jealous of, is related to an area of my life where—in the moment jealousy hits--I'm feeling disconnected and unsupported.
When, instead, I feel inspired, it means that I'm feeling supported in and connected to my work. I'm excited toward making that reality possible in my own life.
So when the trigger hits, is there a way to turn jealousy into inspiration? Into energy toward getting shit done?
Step one. Name it.
Say it out loud: "I feel jealousy. I want what they have."
Then, say, "Okay. It's okay to feel that way. You're okay."
Step two. Soften it.
Keep talking. Now you've named the thing. You gave yourself permission to feel it. You have the opportunity to buttress yourself against its wiles.
Positive self-talk will soften jealousy's sting. Use your name to turn your brain into your friend. "Lora, you are a solid climber. You are a solid writer. I believe in you, and no matter what, I'm proud of you."
Would you tell your friend, "Jeez, look at her. You really suck. Why even bother?"
No, no, you wouldn't.
Step three. Transform it.
Find one thing you can do to feel supported in and connected to the work right here and now—in this moment. Do that thing.
For me it's a hug from a partner—climber, writer, friend, lover. It's a text to a friend: "Help! I feel shitty about my writing right now." It's diving into the work and making a concrete, tiny goal, and succeeding at it: I'll climb beautifully for two solid moves. I'll sit down and write 50 words. Just 50.
(Optional) Step four. Reveal it.
If you have a relationship with the person, it's sometimes helpful to let them know you're struggling. Truth of this sort is not always the best way forward. Sometimes it can be harmful. Sometimes, it's a release. Use judgment.
When jealousy is out in the open, it's a less scary monster. Easier to look at and name. Easier to start step one.
Whether you do Step four, the other three steps destabilize jealousy's shaming power.
Now, it's a feel, like any other emotion.
Now, your big brain and heart can go about doing what they are so good at doing, nodding at the emotion and moving forward.
It comes, has its moment, and then flows through and out, leaving more energy, vitality, motivation, and inspiration in its wake.