I. On Jealousy
“So full of artless jealousy is guilt,
It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.”
―William Shakespeare, Hamlet
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt, This is My Story
There’s a story I like to tell about the moment my life hit a major creative crossroads in 2004.
At the time, I was 28 years old, stuck in an unhappy marriage, unfulfilled in a PR job at my alma mater, ashamed of the burgeoning career I threw away after fancy stints at the Washington Post and the Village Voice, consumed with trying to promote my husband’s band — which he never wanted me to do in the first place, so that worked out really well — and perhaps most pathetic of all, obsessed with Googling peers who were my age but far more successful.
It was a great recipe for self-loathing and paralysis. The guaranteed one, I think.
Search. Read. Hate myself. Repeat.
This was my routine. This was my workout. This was the place where I deserved to be: on the sidelines, watching and falling farther behind with every keystroke.
My self-hatred — and my certainty that I deserved said self-hatred — was my new favorite hobby.
So, what was that guy up to now? Oh, he’s on TV regularly. What’s that one girl doing? A star reporter at the most prestigious newspaper in the country. Yeah, that makes sense. What about…? Oh, of course. A major book deal.
I couldn’t not scratch the itch, could I? That would mean assuming control of my destiny, which is a heavy burden indeed. Because if I were to try — I mean really try — and I still couldn’t achieve all these great things I saw others achieving, then I would be the only one to blame. Wasn’t it safer to not try at all? I could control envy. I could control hate. I could control resentment.