Why not me?
My professional jealousy has gone into overload over lockdown
On Monday evenings, Nicola Slawson and I run life writing sessions and this week, towards the end of the session, Nicola told everybody I had a book deal. Nicola quickly followed it up with: ‘I don’t have one, though.’
I really want this newsletter to grow and I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few weeks thinking about how many more newsletter subscribers Nicola has than me for The Single Supplement.
Nicola’s comment made me realise that I’ve been so wrapped up in professional jealousy and comparing myself with others in my field that I’ve forgotten what I have achieved at work. I spent years wanting a publisher for my book, got it and then focused on how I didn’t have as many newsletter subscribers or social media followers as my friends.
I’ve been resistant to blame the pandemic for everything because it seems like the easy option to do so. Instead, I’ve often talked about how the pandemic has ‘shone a light’ on existing issues. But I’m done. I’m blaming the pandemic for everything. Living under lockdown and in fear of an invisible threat for so long has flipped my brain inside out, left, right and centre and the latest form my madness is taking is in shape of a ravaging, all-consuming and nasty season of professional jealously.
Why not me? My whiny mind keeps going while I’m scrolling through social media feeds for the hundredth time that day.
It’s not just other people’s successes I’m jealous of: it’s how people seem to be able to do more than me. Studies have shown that ‘lockdown makes us all a little more distracted, sluggish and fatigued – cognitive problems that may be affecting our performance at work and our social interactions outside of it.’
Doing work has been harder to do than ever and at the same time, what others have been able to do is more visible to us as we spend our lives stuck at home scrolling through the internet. It pains me to see what appears to be people being able to do more than me. How does she have the time to post so much on social?
Jealousy is a nasty feeling and it’s often swiftly followed by shame. Shame has been an extra layer on top of a lot of our pandemic feelings – how dare I complain when I’m healthy and my life is so comfortable? However, I’m done with that too. Saying out loud what we’re thinking and owning up to our professional jealousy is an important part of the healing process.
Nicola and I shared with each other what we felt we were lacking and there was comfort in knowing I wasn’t alone. We paused the conversation to go and do our workouts. ‘Isn’t it amazing, that we live and work in a way that we can go and do our workouts now?’ I said. We’re putting our minds, bodies and our health above doing another Instagram post or whatever the next thing I’ve been beating myself up for not having done at work.
The cure for comparison is simple and as luck would have it, my homework this week for my happiness course was to focus on what I have rather than what I was lacking and each night I write ten things I’m grateful for from my day. As I jot down the bread I had for breakfast, the episode of Line of Duty I enjoyed and the connection I shared with Nicola as we swapped stories of our professional jealousy, I feel a lot better for having considered what I have, rather than haven’t achieved. It also forces me to consider myself more compassionately because the pandemic is to blame for everything and it comforts me to know that the ten things on my list that day, like me, are good enough.