It's not that they're shallow or self-absorbed or vindictive, from what I can tell. It's that their writing is consistently better than mine, in a way that mine simply doesn't match up. I love seeing them be successful, because who doesn't love other young artists doing awesome things and changing the world? At the same time, I wish I was that successful. Frankly, as a competitive, Type-A person, this stings.
Granted, I'm comparing myself to the people who are National Poets, the people who are Finalists in YoungArts (which means that out of 10,000 applicants, they're the top 1.5%), the people who start really cool literary magazines. They've been published in real literary magazines, (probably) been writing since birth, and been accepted to top universities because of their writing prowess. Obviously, these peers are a select few, and I know that most writers aren't up to this skill level at this age. However, I'm still jealous about how they seem to be doing all of these really amazing things, and I'm not.
The Internet has exacerbated this so that if you choose to, you can surround yourself with the highest-achieving, most mind-blowingly awesome writers. This is fantastic, but it can feel alienating when it seems like everyone else is getting traditionally published at the age of sixteen or has a literary agent or has, at least, finished more than one draft of a novel. This has made me feel inadequate, although at least I've kept writing.
In case you couldn't tell, this has been a personal struggle for me lately, so here are five tips about overcoming writer-jealousy (at least temporarily):
Congratulate the people you're envying. I'm sure that they'd like to know that you appreciate their work, since everyone likes compliments. Plus, as a young artist, you know that it feels like your voice isn't heard.
2. Do something different. Maybe paint, or take a walk, or scuba dive (okay, maybe not that last one). Try to stop focusing on the negative aspects of your work and take a break for a bit. It'll help, I promise.
3. Remember that not everyone is The Most Amazing and Prolific Novelist and Poet Goddess Ever by the age of eighteen. It's awesome if you are, and you're going to keep working on your craft, but if you aren't, it really shouldn't be the end of the world.
4. Come back to your writing. Again, you could try something different. Perhaps rhyming if you're into free-verse, or nonfiction if you mainly write poetry. I've written before about how poetry has helped me, even though I hadn't really thought of it as something I'd like, or something that I'd be good at.
5. Write a letter to yourself reminding yourself that you're more than your writing and your insecurities. Last night, I was really feeling the toll of this deluge of teenage writers doing amazing things I haven't done, and so I wrote myself a letter, on paper. Old-school, I know. I basically reminded myself that I'm still a good person, no matter what my literary accolades are, and that I write because I love writing, not out of sheer competitiveness.
Any tips I missed? How do you deal with jealousy so it doesn't cripple your work?