How Jealousy Kills Your Creative Freedom
"Jealousy is always a mask for fear." —Julia Cameron
Get ready, it's about to get emotional in here. And that's a little weird, right? I mean, this is an indie film blog. But even though we typically don't talk much about the emotional toll of being a filmmaker, it doesn't mean that filmmakers don't struggle with things that weaken their passion and damage their confidence. I came across a really interesting video by photographer Sean Tucker in which he talks about a rarely discussed problem that affects people not only in the indie film community but pretty much in every creative community, "creative jealousy," and how it can actually be the very thing that keeps you from doing what you love.
Embarrassing honesty time: I used to be a ridiculously jealous person back in college. I didn't feel it when it came to most things, like relationships, possessions, and experiences, but when it came to creative stuff, damn, I was the green-eyed monster herself. I wanted to be the best—not in like, the entire world, but at least the best in the room, but going to a school with a film department that was bursting at the seams with eager and talented students, 99.9999999% of the time I wasn't. Not even close.
Instead of seeing this as an opportunity to learn from those who were far better than I was at writing, directing, editing, or whatever, I experienced this strange feeling of loss. It felt almost like being stolen from: the distrust in and anger toward the one who made me feel "unsafe," the fear of never feeling "safe" again. Now, replace "safe" with "good enough" and boom, that was my issue.
"The biggest lie that jealousy tells us is that we have no choice but to be jealous. Perversely, jealousy strips us of our will to act when action is the key to freedom."
"Damn, V. This is heavy and personal and I'm starting to feel kind of unsafe, myself."
Yeah, that part's done, honey. Let's get back to Tucker's video which brings it all home. He quotes a book by author Julia Cameron called The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, and I think it provides the key to eventually unlocking that part of ourselves that keeps us jealous.
Jealousy is always a mask for fear—fear that we aren't able to get what we want, frustration that somebody else seems to be getting what is rightfully ours even if we're too frightened to reach for it. At its root, jealousy is a stingy emotion, it doesn't allow for the abundance and multiplicity of the universe. Jealousy tells us that there is room for only one: one poet, one painter, one whatever you dream of being. The biggest lie that jealousy tells us is that we have no choice but to be jealous. Perversely, jealousy strips us of our will to act when action is the key to freedom.
It's difficult to be jealous and creative at the same time. I think at least for me, I've had to choose one or the other. Luckily, as I got older I started taking emotional intelligence and maturity a little more seriously—I mean, you kind of have to in order to have the job I have. As a writer, people tell me how much I suck at what I do all the time, so unless I want to go full 12-year-old sociopathic internet troll on some angry rando, then I need to take my emotional vitamins, kids.
And you should, too. Don't let jealousy keep you from making films, because it will. It will keep you from taking chances, making connections, and feeling good about what you're doing creatively.
Whatever it is that makes you feel confident about your abilities as a creative, do it. Unless, of course, it's trolling me on the internet.