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The Green-Eyed Monster: Jealousy in the Time of Quarantine

Image: person using scissors to cut a piece of paper on which are written the words "hatred," "indifference," and "envy"

Today’s post is by author Nancy Stohlman( @nancystohlman ).

One good thing about a year’s worth of quarantine? A mint little FOMO. We’re less afraid of missing out because everyone is missing out. We aren’t worried about being left off the guest inventory because there is no guest list. And for many of us who were trying to be everything to everyone, this has been a huge relief.

But…now that our scrutiny and focus has been shrunken even more tightly to the screen, we might be noticing a different kind of FOMO creeping up. We’re maybe noticing there are other novelists doing a good deal during quarantine: publishing or making with a apparently endless supply of artistic liquor, while the project you were working on was cancelled, or shelved, or merely feels insignificant now in this plague world. Maybe all your scribe friends seem caused and you’re stuck. And you feel that nasty green-eyed monster place his hand on his hips again.

I’m going to go out on a limb and have shown that, despite our very best efforts, artistic distrust affects us all at one time or another. If you’ve never felt the light-green demon, then you’re a better party than me. Mind you, I genuinely like my colleagues and I want them all to succeed. Most days I subscribe to the “we all win when we all win” mentality, and I rightfully believe it’s the only way to have a long, reinforcing artistic life.

But … no matter who “youre ever”, there is probably somebody out there who is kicking more butt than you, and it seems to be happening effortlessly.

Over the years I’ve been distrustful of countless places. When I was overworked, I was apprehensive of those with open, sunny writing planneds. When I was stony-broke and invoke two small children, I was wary of those who had the means to support their writing. When my artistic shaft was baked and parched, I was resentful of those whose muse never seemed to grow tired. When I couldn’t get published under a dream gazette, I was wary of those who did. When I was struggling to sell a manuscript or get a publisher/ agent, I was resentful of all the brand-new notebooks birthing.

And…on and on.

I think most of us would never revoke anyone else their achievers. But in these minutes of light-green it can be tempting to take a snapshot of the process rather than learn it as a continuum. Instead of commending ourselves for what we are accomplishing or where we are in the creative cycles/second, we equate ourselves with others who may have entirely different circumstances and rhythms.

You might have noticed that the common denominator in all the above precedents is me! When I was feeling low-pitched, then I was wary. And for me, that’s the key: if we were having our own gold-star day, then our colleague’s success, muse, fund or epoch wouldn’t affect us at all.

To deny these feelings simply substance them down deeper and then you to be provided with hemorrhoids and worse. But thankfully over the years of learning to travel the declines and flows of the artistic process, I have also learned a few ploys and reframes to keep myself from going down the green coiling 😛 TAGEND

Don’t pretend you aren’t feeling it. Name it. Call it out. It only has influence if you ignore it.

Do something nice for yourself. You wouldn’t be feeling lettuce if you were having a gold-star day, so “youre supposed to” need a little extra something. I suggest banana divides in the face of all accepts, FOMOS, jealousies, or creatively hard epoches. Hot fudge promotions everything go down easier.

Celebrate yourself. Not the future form of you. You now. We often forget to acknowledge or celebrate what we are doing. Maybe in our discovery, our artistic threats behind the scenes. In showing up to the page, even though they are we don’t feel aroused. At the very least, we can celebrate our ability to be alive and making art at all. Celebrate you.

Learn a new thing. Read. Study. Get curious. Curiosity is the antidote to so many things: jealousy, nervousnes, apathy. And getting curious is not only good for your head, it may also lead you back to a artistic discovery. The best acces is to try something completely new. Try poetry. Try screen toy. Maybe finally try your hand at flash fiction?

Take a destroy. It’s okay to soften or unfollow people whose success isn’t bringing you joy. This is not an endurance race. You can change the direct. It doesn’t mean you don’t adore others and wish them well. It’s about curating your online ordeal to reinforcement your talent. Or what about a payable on a periodic basis social media undermine? Social media free Sundays?

Creativity is like the seasons. Seasons of disclosure might be followed by periods of generation, which might be followed by rest and convalescence. What we find on our screen is never the whole picture. That gal inducing so much material might actually be struggling to write behind the scenes. That scribe getting all the commendations today will be quietly looking for their new idea next year.

And eventually, if you find yourself feeling a bit lettuce this month, like you should be doing something else or that everyone is doing it better than you, recollect Georgia O’Keeffe’s best advice ever: “I have already reconciled it for myself, so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am relatively free.”

Meaning: Take all the good days and all the bad periods and redden them both down the same toilet and get back to work.

In solidarity!

Read more: janefriedman.com