As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, I was recently traveling around the US for a month. While I was away, a friend of mine who is a fellow blogger, posted a number of pieces on her blog. Each time she posted, I received an email with her latest post.
I watched these emails come in but didn’t have time to read what my friend had written. I just took note each time an email landed in my inbox.
And as each email arrived, I could hear a little green eyed monster in my head.
“How come you aren’t posting on your blog? You say you are a writer, but you haven’t posted in months. You can’t call yourself a writer.”
These and other thoughts went through my head. I tried to banish them but with each email that jealous green eyed monster grew larger.
Even though I was on holiday with my daughters having the time of our lives, even though I was consciously taking time to be present with each person we encountered and even though I drove more than 3000 miles in four weeks, the green eyed monster told me I wasn’t good enough and that my friend was obviously better just because I wasn’t blogging. (I know. I just re-read that sentence and I hear how stupid it is. Don’t worry.)
The more the voice grew, the more I looked for confirmation that my friend was not only better, but obviously had a better life than I did too. She has a great job, she’s doing a meditation course, she has two great kids, a fabulous, supportive husband, an amazing house, she lives in Melbourne (where I’d love to live), she’s collaborating on a book and (and here’s the kicker) she had been asked to speak at a conference.
The voice told me that she has her life together and I don’t. Everything I could see reinforced this idea. Even though I used to have a life like hers and I made choices to walk away from it to pursue a different life. A life that I love. When I got home from the trip, I avoided talking to her and responding to her many phone calls and texts.
Yep, I had a very bad case of the green eyed monster.
Until this past Monday when I finally made myself sit down and examine this feeling. I have to say, I wasn’t proud of what I saw in myself.
This friend is someone I met professionally but we became fast friends because we have so much in common. We wrote a book together on Twitter for healthcare professionals, toured Australia teaching hospital staff how to use social media and in the process became firm friends. When I organised an international healthcare conference a few years ago, she was one of the first people I asked to be on the program. I have a lot of professional respect for her.
More than that, I have a personal connection with her. We’ve bared our souls to each other, shared our dreams, supported each other in times of need and shared more than a few bottles of wine at the beach while trying to solve the woes of the world. Whenever we talk, we find we are often going through the same struggles and offer mirrors for each other to find our way on our life journey.
As I examined my feelings Monday morning, I realised the jealousy actually stemmed from disappointment in myself. I wasn’t writing the amount and type of writing I want to do. I was frustrated that she was following her heart and I wasn’t.
I rang her on Tuesday morning to come clean. Yep, I rang her to tell her why I hadn’t returned her calls and texts and admitted to a bad case of the green eyed monster. I was vulnerable and open and explained to her what her blog posts had triggered in me.
She laughed (in a good way), thanked me for coming clean and then, came clean herself. She told me that she’s been guilty of being jealous of me many times over the years of our friendship. The more we talked, the more we realised how ridiculous the whole situation is.
We are both two amazing women. Instead of wasting energy on being jealous of each other or tearing each other apart, we should be lifting each other up. We should be supporting each other’s wins and having each other’s back. Writing, like all good things in life, isn’t pie. There aren’t just so many servings or only so many people who can write.
It is the wide diversity of people who can write that is so amazing. Each person has their own voice and will attract their own readers, their own tribe, to their ideas. And as a society we need as many voices as possible to all contribute to the richness of ideas floating around in the ether.
On Tuesday morning I told my friend I was planning on participating in blogtober. By Tuesday night she had decided to join me. Instead of feeling jealous by this decision, I welcomed it with open arms. Writing these posts each day has taken on a new fun dimension. We’re keeping each other honest and each night after we’ve posted, we have rung each other laughing about the writing process for us.
Tonight she texted me that she just got home from the beach and will be racing against the clock to post by 11.59pm. I laughed. My day didn’t turn out the way I planned and I’m also racing against the clock. But it’s fun to know we’re both in this together.
At some point this month, we hope to write a piece together. I will write one paragraph, send it to her, she’ll write a paragraph, send it back, and so on. I think it will be fascinating to see what transpires. We wrote a book using sort of this technique, so a blog post should be do-able and who knows where it might lead?
I’m happy to say, collaborating with her is far more fun than being jealous of her. This process has reminded me again that being open and vulnerable with someone can lead to good things.
And my green eyed monster? She’s back in her box. I’m sure she’ll appear again at some point, but I hope it’s a while before she rears her head again.
P.S. If you want to check out my friend’s blog you can find it at http://curiousmuse.com.au
Ah yes, the I’m not a “real” [writer/artist] thing. I did a massive amount of work during the mid-1990s about the writer thing to discover that I was caught up in thinking novelists=real writers/authors and I was just writing and publishing nonfiction, so NOT a real writer. Julia Cameron’s reframe of jealousy in The Artist’s Way also helped a lot. As for the real artist, that, thankfully, has not been an issue, probably because that identity had been deeply grooved by, oh, age 10? I do have passing thoughts about “art” v. “crafts” but happy to see that conversation has been tackled by famous artists, thus leaving me time to make art…and not write, these days! ❤