Today is St. Patrick’s Day, not St. Patty’s Day as I’ve been informed by the Internet. Many of you have donned some four-leaf clover glasses and some leprechaun inspired garb, and possibly have downed some emerald beer to celebrate.
Which is why I think it is amusing that today of all days I was thinking about jealousy.
Today I was walking around Barnes and Noble on my lunch break. I like doing that. Being surrounded by books, the smell of paper and coffee mixing together creates a pleasant aroma that relaxes me. Irish music was playing over the loud speaker system, and I casually walked from section to section. I glanced at beautiful cover art, and picked up a book here or there to read the descriptions of talented copywriters on the back covers.
I came across a book that was on special display. Sometimes, authors come to Barnes and Noble to sign books, and this was one of those books. I looked at the cover art, and then the picture of the author. I couldn’t believe it. She looked younger than me, with bright eyes and long red hair, the epitome of youth staring back. I grabbed her book quickly to read her author’s note. She started writing the novel I was holding in my hands at the age of fifteen, and now at age twenty, had a hot bestseller to put on her resume.
She doesn’t even have an undergraduate degree, and she can’t legally drink yet.
At first, the age old feeling I’ve experienced before burned my ears a bit. I put down her book, and walked away, the little feeling edging it’s way into my thoughts. This young woman, this girl, from the same state as me even!-had written, published, and possessed a bestseller before I even had a decent rough draft to a single chapter in my name.
I was jealous.
I’ve experienced this before. The friends that have dated for a shorter period of time than my boyfriend and I are engaged and married within a year of knowing each other, and I wonder if they’ve discovered some magic we are not privy too. I’ve felt it with my second cousin that was a 4.0 student, that went to a third world country to volunteer, and got into the best school in the state, while our Christmas letter bragged about me getting glasses. And now, this spritely young thing, climbing best seller lists while I, an unmotivated and the worst of procrastinators when it comes to my personal writing projects-was no where near that ladder of success.
I hate that feeling.
Which is why I decided to kick it in the butt right then and there.
I purchased her book.
I decided that I was going to turn that jealousy of mine into something productive-passion. I actually read the first sentence of her book, and was amazed that the first sentence was a thought I had often pondered myself. Perhaps she had more than just a sentence in common with me. Perhaps this young woman could serve as an inspiration for me to not give up on my dreams, and that age is just a number. Whether a bestseller at 20, 30, 60, or 80, the fact you worked hard enough to get something published, and it was good enough to get noticed is a feat at any age. Maybe she and I will sit down and grab coffee one day, and she can inspire me further with personal advice, author to author. She is another success story of her words finding a voice online first, print second, so maybe I need to consider my tactics.
Jealousy just shouldn’t be one of them.
While I thought this, I reconsidered all the other moments of my life where I was jealous. My friends that are engaged before me? I shall wish them happiness and strength, while I realize that we have made the choice we have for our own personal reasons, and when I think about it, am very glad we are waiting to get married ourselves for a number of reasons. My second cousin? She may have had a terrific GPA and volunteered abroad, but since then I’ve had my own fair share of adventures with trips abroad and across the country, and was offered one heck of a great job. I can continue to celebrate hers and mine different successes, as long as I get to brag about publishing my first novel in the annual Christmas letter first 😉
Turning that jealousy around to be channeled into passion and support for your “competitor” is not easy, and it shouldn’t be. Which is why I am going to stop thinking of my fellow writer friends as competition and instead as colleagues and a community I can share ideas with. We all have different ideas that have been inspired by an array of experiences, and we should celebrate our individual accomplishments as well as our neighbors.
So on this St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll embrace Irish culture, have some Irish inspired cuisine, and blast some terrific Irish tunes in my room. I might even wear some shamrock shaded clothing.
I just won’t turn that color. 😉