Regardless of your opinion on Morrissey, he really nailed it with the song, “We Hate it When Our Friends Become Successful.”
“Oh, it should have been me,” he sings. “It could have been me.” And likely at some point, as much as you hate to admit it, you’ve felt this exact way when someone you know has gotten attention or praise for the same kind of thing you’ve been working on with barely any recognition.
And for many artists, this can be a debilitating reaction. Even Morrissey said the song was inspired by a friend being on the cover of a music magazine which inspired the singer to, “[die] a thousand deaths of sorrow and lay down in the woods to die.” And while that’s melodramatic, even for Moz, many of us can relate to that feeling of futility when someone you know who really isn’t that great all of a sudden is gathering fans while you’re toiling away for nothing.
But this feeling, while, natural, is toxic to creativity. You spend so much time lamenting this perceived injustice and wondering what makes them so special when you could be doing what’s important — working on your own thing.
So how do you get out of this envy cycle? It takes some work, but remember these three facts:
Fame Isn’t Value
This is the one you tell yourself over and over, but tell yourself again — there are a lot of popular things in this world that just aren’t very good. And there are some wonderful things that most people don’t care about. If you’re bummed, imagine how the amazingly talented and unknown friends of One Direction feel.
Fame Isn’t Forever
This is also important to remember for yourself if you end up with a little bit of celebrity — people’s tastes turn. Quick. Especially now, when the Internet exposes us to endless media. Things get hot and turn ice cold in moments. So yes, maybe someone is enjoying their moment in the spotlight but it will likely be pretty brief in the grand scheme. But that doesn’t matter because…
Fame Isn’t Magic
Many people win many incredible awards every year, but that rarely, if ever, changes how they truly feel as an artist. Sure, you think that if you had the opportunity, you’d happily accept the admiration and it would finally vindicate you and your hard work. But more than likely you would be facing the same levels of self-doubt and frustration and jealousy probably before you can even set the trophy on your mantel. People can be successful doing a lot of things — you chose this because it’s what you’re good at; it’s what you look forward to; it’s what you feel you need to do.
When you work on it, you’re happy. And that, actually, is magic.