Am I a bad person for getting mad at my friends because they’re more successful and creative than me? I never feel like my creativity is enough compared to those around me. Should I try to live up to my own expectations of my friends or should I only set goals based on my expectations of me?
Hi, friend. The short answer? No, you’re not a bad person. Yes, you should only set goals based on your expectations of you. Byyyyyye.
Long answer? No, you’re not a bad person for getting mad at your successful and creative friends. You’re not a bad person for any feeling you’ve ever felt, because we can’t control our feelings. We can control the way we react to our feelings, we can work through our feelings, we can express our feelings, our feelings can change, but we cannot control them or stop them from flooding through our gorgeous and bangin’ bodies. Give yourself the space and permission to feel it all. I would guess that the anger you are feeling is arising from jealousy. Jealousy and anger are hard emotions to feel, and they are often not given much space. We are taught that they are completely negative, nothing good can come from them, that we shouldn’t name them and we should strive to rise above them. But I can think of a couple of good things anger and jealousy do. Anger can motivate us and jealousy can help us name what we want and create intentions and goals.
If you are feeling jealous of your friends’ artistic success, it doesn’t necessarily mean you want their success to be taken away. It just means that you also want that success, whatever that looks like for you. So try to harness the energy you’re putting toward jealousy and anger into motivation. Try to pinpoint exactly what is going on when those feelings of jealousy bubble up in your belly or your loins or wherever the hell jealousy is located. Are you feeling insecure about your own work? Why? Are you giving more value to a friend’s medium than your own? Do your friend’s paintings seem more like “real art” than your collages, for instance? Try to remind yourself all creativity is creativity and its value is 100% subjective and it is ALL valid. Do you think your friends make more quality work than you? Why? What is “quality” to you? Why can’t you see that in what you make? Are you really just admiring your friends’ discipline and the amount of time they set aside for creative work? Set intentions based on the answers to these questions. Figuring out exactly what is making you jealous can help you to get a glimpse of what you want your creative life to look like.
And yes, you should only live up to your expectations of you. Your friends can inspire you and help you grow, but in the end you are the one that has live inside you forever. It’s totally okay and natural to want people to like what you make, but I have found that it’s best if that desire comes after the work is made instead of before or during. When I make work from the place of wanting others to like it or wanting it to be like someone else’s work, it causes me a lot of anxiety because i’m thinking the whole time, “Will my talented artist friend that I want to impress named Mr. Bansky Jr. like this? Is it as good as Jimmy John’s work? Etc. etc. etc.” The work suffers from that because I’m not creating from my true voice. It also makes creating less fun and feel like a chore. Sometimes I write a sentence that I worry sounds a little too out-there or something (see: “Mr. Bansky Jr.” up there) and I delete it, but sometimes I say FUCK IT and leave it in and I always end up being more proud of that work. That is me making work from my own expectations because, while I know some people don’t think using Jimmy John’s as a stand-in for any name is funny, I think it’s hilarious. Why would I take that out? Am I not supposed to be amused by or find joy from my own work? That’s ridiculous! That’s exactly what it should be about! Trust that you know what is funny to you, that you know what is good, and that your creativity is essential to the turning of this world even if no one else ever sees it. Make what makes you happy, regardless of what you think your friends will think about it. And when your own work makes you happy, it will be easier for you to be happy for your friends when they make work. Even though we established jealousy is valid and even useful, it just feels a lot better to be happy for your friends. Good luck, you beautiful creative soul.