Jealousy is coded as a negative emotion — but what if it could help you professionally?
Jealousy is coded as a negative emotion, and ya know, not trying to tell you to get out in the world and covet everything other people have. But my relationship to jealousy changed when I started to think of it as a key indicator of where I wanted to be going next.
I had a close friend who started a business and it grew and grew and grew. It was in a field I didn’t work in, doing something I didn’t want to do, and frankly, I could never do what she did. So why did I start to feel a creeping sense of jealousy permeating my interactions with her?
I sat down and wrote out everything that she had was doing (I ripped this stuff up and threw it away AS SOON AS I was done, don’t need to get hit by a car and have anyone find the weird inner workings of my psyche scribbled in pencil on printer paper) and finally figured out that the thing I was envying was not the specifics of what she was doing, but the fact that she had created a community that she was growing and encouraging others to be better versions of themselves.
This might sound basic to some of you if you have successfully completed therapy or consider yourself *emotionally healthy * (honestly, how dare you), but for me, it was a giant relief. I could release these negative feelings I was holding through no fault of hers, and I could start to look to my own life for where I could do something similar. To that point, I had mainly worked alone, always wanting the glory for myself. Within six months I had met the other Belladonna co-editors and started the site, and began collaborating a lot more with other writers and performers in a variety of ways. I now collaborate significantly more often than I work alone.
All because I checked myself and thought hey, why are you being a hateful little monster toward this person you love?
This podcast talks about quieting your ego and collaborating — I just listened to it this week as I was writing this section, and found it a good counterpart.
Basically, my takeaway: if you’re jealous of someone, you can use it in a powerful way to determine what you really want. Wanna do a lil exercise??
Like I did, sit down with some paper (remember, we MUST destroy this afterward we are not trying to be seen as weird psychic demons) and write out the names of three people you feel jealousy toward. Sometimes people do it the opposite way, writing out people they admire, but let’s feel the negative shit today, baby!!
Write out what they are doing, and then go through and assign a number to the amount of jealousy you feel toward each thing. This was helpful to me — it helped separate out the things I didn’t really care about from the things that were really striking a chord with me. If you’re seeing a lot of 9’s and 10’s around a certain area, then that’s where you want to focus.
It was this realization that not only led me to be open to starting The Belladonna, but I also trace this directly to co-founding the Satire & Humor Festival as well. It made it really clear to me that connecting people and growing a community was a huge priority for my life and career.
Try it out! If you want, email me back and tell me some of the things you saw. I’m not a licensed therapist or even, frankly, an unlicensed one, but would love to see if this helps anyone out.
Happy jealousy hunting!
ABOUT ME: Caitlin Kunkel is a writer, satirist and famed pizza scientist based in Brooklyn, NY. This is an excerpt from her newsletter on comedy and writing careers careers. Her work has been featured in Shouts & Murmurs, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and other places across the vast internetz.
Her first book, NEW EROTICA FOR FEMINISTS, was published by Plume in the US and Sceptre in the UK in 2018! She co-founded the Satire & Humor Festival in 2019 and is planning 2020 now. Follow her musings on Twitter @KunkelTron.