A Dangerous Comparison

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It’s tough nowadays to look around at our society and feel or experience the sting of jealousy. We see a friend acquire a brand new house when we’re still eeking by in an apartment two sizes too small for us. We see the couple who has barely known each other for two months already planning their wedding when we’ve been waiting for Mr/Mrs Right since 1905. We see the successes of our peers – promotions, more money, worldwide fame – and we’re still working 70 hours a week in our basement crafting Youtube videos we hope will garner more than five followers this week.

Comparison runs abound. It’s easy to compare. We place what we DON’T have with what our friends/enemies/strangers DO have.

But there’s a lot of fallacy in that, because we are many times comparing apples to oranges. Sometimes even, apples to Lamborghini’s.

Remember this: What may be good for the goose may not be good for the gander.

Personally speaking, I struggle with this everyday. I’ve been eeking out a writing career since 2005, trying to make more than a dozen sales in a month, and I turn around and find that one of my fellow colleagues is having a hard time hitting the 10,000/month mark.


In all honesty, it makes me want to give up. It makes me want to throw in the towel and go pursue something with more concrete levels of success, like a corporate job.

It’s so easy to become blindsided by jealousy. It’s so easy to forget what we DO have, what we HAVE done, and instead become fixated on what OTHERS have and what OTHERS have done.

Nobody has walked in my shoes. Nobody knows (entirely) the path I have walked in this life. Nobody knows the sacrifices made to get to where I’m at, or the tough calls that led me down this path. Nobody knows the defeats I wallow in, nor the little victories I share in the darkness of my apartment.

Not even me.

Well, I know them. I just forget, allowing the distant moon of someone else’s victories and accomplishments to overshadow my own.

A single book sale.

The start of a publishing company.

My son turning 5.

Celebrating my 10 year wedding anniversary.

Everyone has victories. Everyone’s victories are defined at different levels. Some define victory or success by dollar amounts. Some by progress. Some by status. But it’s you who has control over those definitions. My single book sale can be just as big a victory for me as my colleague’s 10,000 book sales. Jealousy can poison that victory, steal its grandeur, and fill the gaping hole with depression, spite, and bitterness.

We can overcome all of that…

Make a list of your victories every week. Celebrate and reward yourself for them.Whether that’s a trip to the movies, a chocolate bar, or an extra frapp at the local coffee house, find what gives you pleasure, and enjoy your victory. We must wrap our heads around the fact that no victory is too small. Victory – in any shape or form – is progress toward our goals and toward the life we want to live.

Celebrate others’ victories. This one can be hard. But it’s essential that we get over ourselves, our own little box, and reach out to give others some applause or a pat on the back. It helps us diminish the bitter root of jealousy by acknowledging that the accomplishment of our peers is something to be recognized alongside our own victories.

Surround yourself with those who celebrate your victories. Surrounding ourselves with those who root for us and want to see us succeed – even in the small victories – will encourage us to keep moving forward and take joy in the accomplishments we achieve, no matter how insignificant we may think they are.

Keep making goals. A single victory is great. Why not achieve them more often? If one book sale was a victory, make five book sales the next victory. And then ten. Don’t stay stagnant. Wallowing in our jealousy over others’ victories can cause us to become stagnant in ours. Continually upping our goals and achieving them – even at a small, slow pace – will help us achieve the bigger victories in the long run.

Don’t let jealousy taint your attitude toward your peers, your peers’ successes, or your own successes.

One Comment

  • Charity

    As a self-published author, if I spent time agonizing over every book sale I haven’t made… I’d be curled up crying in the corner, certain no one cares about my “voice” or will ever support my work. So… I don’t think about it. I work on another book, another project, another article, another short story. I throw it out into the world and move forward. I may never make it. I may make it big. That’s not why I write. I write because it would pain me not to write, because ink bleeds from my veins, because I can’t go a week without writing, without feeling that deep inner need to CREATE.

    I’ve gone the traditional route. I’ve tried to please publishers and agents, only to murder my creative work, then get rejected anyway. I’m still trying to scramble out of that hole, back into the light of day, into doing what I love best, and not worrying about using the word ‘and’ too much in a paragraph.

    Does it KILL me when an author whose work offends me on every level hits the bestseller’s list yet AGAIN, when I know it’s full of historical lies, while I have a dozen loyal readers and no broad market? Absolutely.

    Can I celebrate for them?

    Someday. 😉

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