It’s not something I’m proud of, but I am absolutely guilty of envy. Most of the time I don’t notice, or chalk it up to a general “want” of things, but a recent bout of Blog Envy made me realize that I may have some serious envy issues. Or, more accurately, inadequacy issues.
Before I started writing today, I did confirm the definitions of envy and jealousy. As a kid, I often told my mother I was jealous of something. She would get frustrated and insist that I was not jealous, but envious. I did not want to be told I was wrong and generally dismissed her correction. However, in case anyone else needs the refresher: both envy and jealousy make you feel inadequate. However, envy is wanting what someone else has, and jealousy is worry that someone else will take what you already have.
As much as I know that there is no sense in comparing myself to others (that’s a slippery slope to depression), it’s something that I do a lot. A LOT. So much, in fact, that I often don’t realize that I’m doing it. Something has to knock me fairly hard upside the head before I notice that my desires have slipped into envy.
And this time it was Blog Envy.
Starting a blog, way back in 2012, was for me. No-one knew about it, and I kept it a secret from all but three people for over two years. There weren’t a ton of posts, but each one felt like an accomplishment, and I was proud of my efforts. It was always the plan to eventually share the blog, and work on publicizing it, but I wanted it to be ready. I wanted to be ready. However, as I continued to wait, the standards I was setting for myself kept getting higher.
One of my dearest friends started a beauty blog. She jumped in with both feet and immediately started sharing her world with everyone she knew. It was impressive and inspiring to me that she had so much confidence in herself. Then, an amazing (and well-deserved) thing happened. Her blog blew up. She became very successful. At first, this continued to motivate me (although I still hadn’t told her about my own blog), but after some time it became intimidating. I was looking at my friend’s blog (and, to be honest, my friend) and seeing all the wonderful things she was doing, and then looking at myself and seeing that I… wasn’t.
Logically, and in hindsight, of course I wasn’t all the things she was. We’re two different people, so we simply wouldn’t create the same thing. But that’s hard to see when you’re just feeling the emotions and not really inspecting the evidence.
Cut to the past two weeks. Receiving the Liebster Award Nomination felt like validation. Although I know it’s more of a tool than an actual award, I took pride in it. When I was tasked with nominating up to eleven other bloggers, I felt that my nominations should be genuine. Despite already following just a few blogs with less than 200 followers, I had to actively seek out blogs. It was tough! Also, I passed over a great number of blogs that I simply wouldn’t follow, whether because the content wasn’t something in which I was interested, or because I felt the writer wasn’t passionate/involved in their own writing.* Going through so many (so, so many) blogs led me to a few conclusions:
- There are infinitely more blogs than I realized. If the odds are stacked against a new restaurant, what must they be against the success of a new blog?!?!
- The public (and likely private, too) school system in the United States has failed a great many of us in the English department.
- There are epically, insanely, dramatically talented writers in the blog world.
It’s that third one that began causing problems. My beauty blog friend had told me that I was witty. But no, these bloggers were witty! They were hysterical! They were dry, wry, sarcastic, punny… and effortlessly so. And my brain said that I would never be that funny. Another blog, full of reflections on life, was both articulate, eye-opening and yet, entirely accessible. That author managed to write in a way that felt like talking with a best friend, only she was suddenly wise beyond her years. And my brain told me that, had I tried to tackle her topic(s), my resulting work would have been so very, very inferior. Recently I found a blog that is completely apropos of nothing. And it’s amazing. Although it has no continuous thread between posts, it is brilliant and cohesive and entertaining. And my brain sighed, for I will never be that creative.
Envy is a stifling, paralyzing thing. And in this blogger world, full of photos of beautiful women enjoying fabulous lives, it seemed like keeping up was fruitless.
But Sam Smith said something at the Grammys that hit a note with me.
“Before I made this record, I was doing everything to try and get my music heard. I tried to lose weight, I was making awful music. And it was only until I started to be myself that the music started to flow and people started to listen.” – Sam Smith
While I was comparing my blog, and myself, to others, I was looking at what they were doing. They were doing so many great things! But that doesn’t mean I have to do those things. And if I don’t have to do those things, then what does it matter how well I would do them? What I need to remember is to do what I want to do, what I feel. There is a sense that simply being authentic and true to oneself is the largest contributing factor to greatness than any other. Your heart and soul need to be part of the creation.
When feeling like less than the rest, it’s important to remember that one isn’t less, only different than the rest. And that difference is what makes each one of us special, and ultimately creates greatness.
*Passionate writing in a blog doesn’t mean overly sentimental, to me. It just means that you can feel a part of the author – whether it’s their own interest, wit or expertise.