with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
“Guilt and jealousy are useless emotions.” How many times have I said this to my children? I can’t even say; it’s something I’ve believed for a long time. Or, at least, I used to. I still think guilt is a useless emotion, but I’ve changed my mind about jealousy, a bit.
This is from a number of months back, but I have it bookmarked and visit it often. Are you reading the fabulous Helen Jane? You should be. The post in question is called Healing from Painful Comparison, and it contains (among other awesome tidbits), this:
Jealousy is a very accurate map as to what’s missing. When I pay attention to jealousy, I’m much happier.
So how do I get out of the jealousy trap?
I make a jealousy map.
I fold a piece of paper into three columns and write at the top of the first column, “WHO.” On the top of the second column, I write, “WHY” and on the third column, I write “SO NOW WHAT?”
I love this because it’s a very practical way to deal with feeling Less Than or Cheated, and to turn it around into something that’s about bettering yourself rather than tearing down someone else. And this goes double for anyone who thinks they’re “above” jealousy.
Yeah, I said it. I said it because in the past I’ve totally been that person. I’ve been the one here telling you “If you’re doing what you need to do and you’re focused on honing your craft and building your business, there’s never a reason to feel jealous of anyone else.” That’s… nice, I guess, if you can achieve it. And sometimes I do. But the fact of the matter is that jealousy is a very normal emotion and I’m not quite so elevated as to be someone who never feels a twinge of envy. Even though I’ll be the first one to tell you that I’m pretty pleased with where I am in life.
Sometimes, people you don’t like get jobs you want.
Sometimes, people who flat-out aren’t as talented as you are hailed for accomplishments while you’re passed by.
Sometimes, a group you thought was your cohort is all picked for some Super Duper Special Thing… everyone but you.
Sometimes, someone who’s kind of a jerk is honored for being an unflagging humanitarian.
There’s always places where things are going to happen that seem unfair or ridiculous, and we can tell ourselves, “I’m not jealous, I’m just, you know, surprised, and also wondering if maybe the entire world is on crack and if there’s any point to working hard when people are clearly insane.” There’s lots of ways to dress up and justify jealousy and convince yourself that it’s about something higher and loftier than just plain feeling crappy that things didn’t go as well for you as they did for someone else.
But it’s still jealousy.
And Helen Jane’s advice about figuring out what that jealousy is telling you—whether it be that there’s something else you need to be working towards, or that you just need to stop reading that one website because it makes you crazy—is spot on.
In my case, half-a-dozen years into freelancing, I’m still working on learning a very crucial lesson, which is this: I don’t actually want to be famous. A lot of people in this space are “known” in ways that push their careers forward, and even though I’m a fairly private introvert, sometimes when I see a lot of folks being publicly hailed I start feeling left out. Like, why aren’t those people noticing me when I’m doing the same or better things? And I start feeling unsure of myself and it all spirals downward until I remember that, hey, I don’t actually want to be a celebrity. My mother’s conviction that I can’t possibly make any money with this “Internet thing” aside, I make a nice living doing what I love. That would not be enhanced by being more “known;” in fact, it would be diminished because I would probably hate that. So why do I sometimes get my panties in a wad over these things?
Because I’m human, and I compare myself to others, and I forget what I actually want when I’m feeling insecure.
But then I remember, and the jealousy goes away. It turns out that Helen Jane’s advice works really well. It doesn’t stop you from ever feeling jealousy, but it definitely stops the jealousy from lasting or having any power over you. And that’s awesome.
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