A few days ago a lot of beautiful stuff came through my social media feed. Everyone looked so great that I felt like I was not accomplishing enough. That my trying hard was not enough.
Sometimes it happens.
In the following days three things happened and made me think “wow, I should really write about it”. Izabela from Prior Attire was attacked in a specifically made facebook group. It was disgusting. In a differnet post a few people were shaming a quite known youtuber for lack of accuracy, but the comments went a bit far and it became as clear as in the other situation: envy got the best of those people. Then a photographer tried to shame my photographs to push me to accept a collaboration with him (poor soul).
Having had a lot of experience in the matter, I thought of sharing what I have learnt, hoping that it will help building a better costuming world.
First of all, we have to stop turning the blind eye to the costuming community. It has its highlights, but it mostly has shadows. And most of us like attention. This means that whenever someone gets more than we do or more than what we thing he/she deserves…we’re prone to envy.
Sometimes I really think we’d need a psychology book in our shelves, more than the next pattern explaining extravaganza. But none of us would consider that a priority, I guess.
I really hope that reading this post and my experience will help some of us, and by that the whole community. Because we spend a lot of time in this environment, and its toxicity hurts us all. We all need to work on ourselves and create a healthier environment, even if we’re surrounded by primadonnas.
To start, I would like to openly admit this: I am a very envious person.
I see someone getting success and attention and I want to be in their place. I ask myself why I am not in their place. If I am not deserving of such gratification as well.
It happens often and It makes me feel bad with myself. Undeserving of attention, success and in the end love. And I know this is getting deeper than you expected. But we do need to get to the bullet at the bottom of wound to heal, don’t we?
At some point of my life, I started feeling envious towards anyone modeling or sewing or simply enjoying these things. I had been sewing for a couple of months. And my very first instinct was to underline and exagerate the problems of their work. Be it a hem, be it the model’s nose, be it…anything basically. And I even started writing a few comments I deeply regret now. They had the subconscious goal of hurting and deminishing the other person. I am very ashamed of that.
But I am proud of something. At a certain point I felt so bad because of envy… that it was hurting me on a daily basis, all the time I spent on social media. And I knew it was wrong, deep in my conscience. I wanted it to stop hurting.
So I decided to shush those voices and to start doing. I felt that I wasn’t any less than those persons, so instead of asking “why them and not me” I just started pushing myself out of the comfort zone and actually doing something to reach those things I wanted in my life. Every time I felt that envy, I CHOSE to use it as fuel to move my buttocks and do something. I chose to say something only after I measured myself with that very specific task.
And… shortly after that things started working. I started having the kind of success I envied, but most of all I started feeling well.
Am I a different person now?
Oh no. I am quite the same. I am no superhero. Very often envy pops out and squishes my mind and heart in her claws and for some time I am back there again.
It’s a daily training. It hasn’t stopped after ten years. But the beast is somewhat tamed and it doesn’t eat the energy I need to reach those goals.
Most of the time.
So what are you supposed to do when you feel it? Are you supposed to repress it? Are you supposed to feel guilty and ashamed of it?
No, neither of these would really help you get past it. You have to aknowledge it, accept it, and use it as fuel for your own goals.
Feeling envy doesn’t make you a bad person. But how you act upon it does. That’s what matters.
You have my very same choice: you can use it against others, or to improve yourself. But the very first thing you absolutely need to do is to aknowledge it! How many nasty comments have I seen over the years, made by people who didn’t know they were so nasty because of envy? It’s only by aknowledging that you can heal it. If you don’t know what you’re fighting, or that you should fight it, you have very little chances of success. It’s time to start.
When you feel you’re about to do something to tear someone down, start asking yourself: “does this person have something I want for myself?”.
The first answer you’ll find is “surely not, I am so much better!”, and that’s envy protecting itself. It’s not always about the skills. It can be the attention someone gets. If someone gets complimented for something you deem less than perfect. If someone is showed love and support. If someone looks happier than you are, if he looks great, if he’s in a place you’d want to be, if it’s a good photo, if he shares the friendship of loving and/or talented and interesting people. If someone has had chances you were not given and has made the best out of them. It is so much more than a pretty costume. You can be envious of someone very bad at what you do, and it doesn’t mean it’s not envy. Because you rarely envy the skills. You envy the success and the love.
If it’s just skills, in our planet it turns into admiration, most of the time.
You have to understand that success is a weird thing. It’s made of many flimsy and unnamable other things. So many of them. And it has very little to do with talent or skill. It’s about how you’re perceived by people, if you do the right thing at the right time, if you have the right connections. And much other stuff.
Success has nothing to do with being good or perfect at what you do. And you have to stop believing it does. Because it does not and never will. Period.
Being good at what you do is not enough. You need to promote yourself, to feel friendly, to be at the right place at the right time, to look nice to the people who can connect you with the chances you want. Luck is needed more than talent.
And as soon as you surrender to this very dark and harsh reality about life, it gets easier to be a better person. And better, non-toxic person are given more chances, because they shine good light and other people want to be close to them.
Some people are born with advantages you’ll never have. Some of them will be given chances you’ll never dream of because of random reasons. But they will not be given your chances and your talents. Start thinking what makes YOU strong, besides your skill and talent and use those things. Make the best out of your chances. Because you will not be given those of someone else. And as long as you keep your eyes on other people’s opportunities you’ll miss all of yours, believe me. You’re wasting time over something you can’t fix by pointing your fingers at others! You can only fix this if you start working on yourself.
Because your instinct can be that of trying to tarnish someone else’s success, so you can shine. That’s how your mind works: if I push someone down, I will look taller.
Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.
You might not see it. People in your same place who will agree with you and join your envious circle won’t see it. But everybody else will: it’s clear you’re completely poisoned by envy and that attempt at bringing down someone because of it will look extremely sad, pathetic, and much below the better person you think you are when you try to bring them down.
The ONLY solution is to shine by your own light. Force yourself to shine more, better, brighter. Lowering someone else’s flame isn’t fair nor good for you and won’t get you any peace of mind.
So when you want to write or say something bad…think why are you feeling that. Even if it’s a beginner in a costuming group, making something horribly wrong and receiving a lot of compliments, don’t be that sad being that writes “I know it’s your first, but you should really fix this if you want it to look even barely nice”. You’re probably envious of the attention and compliments this person is receiving. And those people showing support probably already see the mistakes, and probably would compliment you twice as much if you shared your work instead. So why don’t you share yours? Because you fear judgement, you fear people doing to you what you do to others. Isn’t it?
That’s a bit unfair. And coward and in some way makes you a little hypocrite. But mostly makes everyone see you’re hurting.
Will you be able to change overnight? Will you always be able to refrain from getting your envy into the world? Probably not. It takes time and even when you are where I am sometimes you’re tired or hurt by other things and you do the wrong thing. But the intention is very important.
And you will feel better. I promise.
So, if you can’t say something nice, do yourself a favour and skip. Do not act upon evious feelings. If you can’t stop the mind, you can stop the tongue and you can stop the hand.
Sometimes you are frustrated because things don’t go how you wanted them to. Things don’t go well and you see someone shining, someone who doesn’t deserve it as much as you do, in your mind. And at your weakest, you might need to let these things get out. It is ok. Especially when you’re learning. When you’re that weak, you’ll need support.
That’s when you need friends. You can talk of that with close friends. You can point out the wrong things in someone else’s work with them. But it needs to be a safe place in three ways:
- it doesn’t have to get out and end up hurting people. It’s ok not to be always strong. But you need a sort of safety belt to keep your negativity from going out and hurting others who have very little to do with it. Like punching a pillow;
- these friends need to know when to stop you, to limit this outpouring of bad feelings, and they need to know they have to help you turn that energy in the positive way, towards you, towards personal growth and improvement;
- you want to take a distance from those allowing your envy circle to grow. Friends can agree with your points to make you feel better. But in the end you need to be surrounded by non-toxic people, people who can push you to be your better self, and keep your distance with those allowing you and themselves to indulge in envy too long.
And let’s close the topic for now with a little guide on how to heal, how to stop hurting when you feel envy.
- Do I feel hurt because it’s bad, or does it hurt because it’s good in something, even if not linked to skill and talent? Give a name to the bad feeling. Aknowledge it.
- Do the same thing yourself, prove you can do better, don’t just assume it. Because along the path of actually making something a lot can go wrong, and everything is perfect in our heads.
- What does he/she have that I want? Have I done everything I could to reach the result I envy in others?
- Do not let your perfectionism and negativity divour both you and others. Stop the monster.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. They have a different background, different means, different chances. Some more than you have, some less. Maybe they do envy you as well for something. Accept that you have your path. And change yours.
- Shine brighter, shine of your own light.
- Don’t envy-shame others. It won’t help them or you, and it will make them shut their mind in front of change chances. Help other envious people to get out of it, so we can all build a better environment for our work and hobbies.