Earlier this week I re-watched Mike Birbiglia’s second directorial outing, Don’t Think Twice. It’s a great indie movie about an improv team at a crossroads. They’re all getting older, their theater is getting shut down and one of their members gets a job at Weekend Live, an SNL rip off so on the nose I’m surprised Lorne Michaels didn’t have Birbiglia murdered in an alley.
The cast is great, and as a struggling creative myself, the story hits pretty close to home. It’s a movie that basks in the awkward moments, and nothing hit home harder for me than the moments of jealousy.
Jealousy is, at the end of the day, part of the human condition, probably some leftover impulse from a time when humans fought and scrapped for every morsel of food they ate. I suppose for some, competition, a need to “beat” one’s peers or those who’ve achieved more success, is motivation. I know some great art has been produced with that mentality, rage at the success of others, especially less talented others, can give a creator focus and drive. But speaking for myself, jealousy is for the birds.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel it too especially when I think success is unearned. I get a cold knot in the pit of my stomach when I see a comedian make an audience roar with laughter at a joke I’ve heard told 20 different ways from 50 different hacks. My lip curls with disdain when I realize a “writer” with 10,000 twitter followers hasn’t actually produced anything.
But jealousy has never been a motivator for me, in fact it just makes me feel like shit. As far as I’m concerned, obsessing over anybody else’s career is a waste of time. I know far too many old bitter bastards to want to waste a moment on why somebody else achieved something I believe I deserve. I’m much happier saying, “good for them,” and getting back to work.
Besides, from a purely careerist standpoint, being a supportive ally to the creatives around you will get you further than bemoaning their success. I mean where would Dave Franco be right now if he held his older brother’s success against him? I like to think doing regional Chili’s commercials in Nebraska.
Swallowing your jealous pride and just being happy for your colleagues success is number 1. A classy move, 2. Shows people you aren’t a dick, and 3. Gives you this amazing sense of superiority that’s better than heroin.
And at the end of the day all art is collaborative… unless you don’t care if anybody ever sees it, in which case, you probably don’t give a fuck about other artist’s success because you are a divine monk who transcends the rest of our petty bullshit… or maybe you just like your job at the bank. Either way good for you! But for the rest of us, working with others will always be a part of the creative process, and nobody wants to work with somebody seething with resentment for the the shit they don’t have yet.
I’m not shrink. I’m not really qualified to tell people how to deal with their emotions, all I can say is the only real way I’ve found to deal with jealousy is to ignore the work you hate and be excited and vocal about the work you like. When a friend or colleague makes something inarguably good. Be a goddamned cheerleader about it. It’ll feels weird at first, but at the end of the day feeling positive about things feels a lot better than feeling negative about things.
Thanks for reading Jealousy! If you enjoyed it, hit that like button and leave a comment. If you’d like to check out more of my weird stories and musings about life, the universe, and the meaning of existence, then subscribe to mindful of madness. You can also find me on twitter @drewjokeringram or on Instagram @andrewingram88. My comedy album, “This Was A Bad Idea” is on Spotify, iTunes or pretty much anywhere else you listen to music. Thanks, my self-esteem depends on you.