Jealousy: the singularly most useless emotion in existence

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This is the thing that confuses me (okay, so this is one of several trillion things that confuse me).

I'm Steph Bowe. I was Steph Bowe yesterday and a year ago and during 1997 (I was one awesome Steph Bowe during 1997) and for the rest of my life. I'm weird, but no more weird than anybody else. I put a lot of effort into being kind and not being sad and faking confidence.

And before I got a book deal, nobody really had a problem with me. I existed on the fringe of things. I mean, people liked me, because I give lots of compliments and dislike confrontation and everyone likes my mum. But I was never really a part of things (and I still don't feel as if I am now. But it's like I've been standing at the edge of the pool for years and then somebody pushes me in and I've no idea how to swim but I'm faking it really well).

But now, it's strange.

I'm the same person that I was before. And yet heaps of people now have this barely-concealed resentment towards me (I get being jealous of other people's success. Why you have to make them aware of it, I don't know. I'd rather be happy for other people). People I knew before and people I know now and people I'm friends with and people I barely know.

You get that just because I'm getting a book published and I've had all these opportunities fall in my lap and suddenly I'm flavour of the month doesn't mean my life is suddenly fantastic, right? I mean, I'm lucky, I'm insanely lucky, and I'm grateful - but I'm still me. I'm still confused and weird and shy, and terribly unsure of myself.

(There's also this attitude I've encountered that I don't deserve it. I've had people tell me on numerous occasions that I'm not going to be flavour of the month forever - not in those exact words, though. I try not to tear people down, as a rule, because if everyone's like me, I'm sure they do enough self-criticising.)

This is what I think it is:

Everyone has this idea in their head that once they get a certain thing they'll be happy, life will be perfect.

For a young person, it might be that when they're eighteen and move out, they'll be happy. Or when you weigh a specific weight (for me, I have a lot of trouble keeping this down and reminding myself that being thin and happy are not synonyms), you'll be happy.

Or if you had a book deal, if you were succesful like [insert the name of someone you're jealous of here], then you'd be happy. Then you'd be proud of yourself, then you'd feel accomplished.

Here is the thing:

External circumstance is not going to make you happy. Of course there are things that help like access to food and water and shelter and being loved, but your life will not suddenly transform once you hit a certain weight or sell however many books or whatever other goal you have.

If you're not good enough for yourself without a book deal, you will not be good enough for yourself with a book deal.

There will always be something else. You guys, I felt inferior to everyone else and as if I had to be an author, or something, so that I meant something. So I wasn't a total failure. (Just to let you know: my family are wonderful and supportive and this whole feeling is a mental thing and very much a result of being a teenager and overwhelmingly self-critical. And I'm aware you're all going to judge me for this, but I'd much rather be real than project a false image of myself.)

Now that I am author? I don't feel any different. It's an internal thing, guys. External circumstance will not change how you feel about yourself or how you feel in general. (I'm sure I've said this before on this blog. Sorry.)

If you are seething with hatred towards succesful people right now, you won't be happy when you're as succesful as them yourself. You'll just focus on people who are even more succesful.

And here's another thing: no matter how much you accomplish, there will always be someone better than you. Someone funnier, better-looking, thinner. Someone who has sold more books in more countries and has more friends and seems to have their life totally sorted. I'm not saying this to make you sad, or anything. You need to be happy with being the fabulous person you are right now - obviously, strive for your dreams. But don't feel as if they'll complete you as a person. Don't hate the people who are already there. Everyone still has trouble with life.

And look, I don't want this blog to be depressing. I'm just trying to tell you something I'd like to have told myself a couple of years ago. I'm just trying to tell the people who hate me for no reason that resenting others doesn't make anyone feel good.

I'm just trying to let you know that who you are to yourself shouldn't be dictated by whether you accomplish something others value. It should be about being a good person and loving others and stuff like that.
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