Jealousy and Envy: Utilizing and taking advantage of negative emotions.
My entire artistic life, I’ve been under the impression that jealousy is bad; that envy is unacceptable. That under no circumstance, should you ever feel this way towards another musician. But this isn’t something I was ever really taught, at least not in music class. Religion teaches that jealousy is like "cancer in the bones", and I guess my imagination ran away with it from there and I applied that to my musical endeavors. Now, I’m wondering if all of that is wrong. After contemplating character personalities from a number of different stories; How they were pridefully envious, ambitious, and competitive; How their sole purpose seemed to be to overtake their rival; And how they reached levels of excellence, so excellent that they were 2nd only to one(if they didn’t indeed reach the top); I have to question, have I made a mistake?
There is no doubt in my mind that initially rejecting jealousy and envy was a good decision, for the short term. They are complicated emotions, and being so young, it would take some time to come to understand them. So they wouldn’t have been good for me back then. And I feel that over the years I’ve developed some very rational and reasonable ideas regarding how I relate to other artists. Understanding that we are all at our different levels for various reasons. That we don’t know the advantages or disadvantages of our peers, and therefore shouldn’t *waste energy feeling sorry for ourselves, or being angry at someone for something that isn’t even their responsibility. I think those are important things that all of us should know.
But that’s where the question is… "wasted energy… wasted energy?". From the characters in these different stories, to the competitive people that I know in real life, it doesn’t appear that these "negative emotions" are a waste of energy. Matter of fact, it seems that these emotions are an element of motivation. Their competitiveness and ambition drives them to work diligently and consistently. They have so much energy and drive, that they forget about everything but their goal. They know what they want, and they are not satisfied until it is theirs. And even if they never reach that top spot, they are always among the best. All because they had someone to compete against.
And then I think of myself. I’ve never had any rivals. Not because no one was better than me, but because I never competed with anyone. I tell my musical peers now; I’m not special. I haven’t worked harder than anyone else. I don’t have any particularly natural talents. I haven’t even been consistent. The only thing I did was commit. That’s it. No rhythm, no rhyme, no magic. I just committed. Music was and is the only thing for me, and that’s why I’m good at it. And quite frankly, even after committing, I don’t feel I’m at a high standard. And I’m nowhere near the standard of people who do compete, and have rivals, and have something to bounce their strengths and weaknesses off of.
I would say it’s one of the reasons why I am so needy and hungry for criticism. Choosing not to compare myself to others; Avoiding and rejecting jealous and envious emotion; And choosing to not compete with others; I needed another way to find fault in myself, and challenge myself. And even though I’m somewhat proud of my few accomplishments, given my plights with motivation and ambition over the years I’m wondering have I cheated myself? Is there some use and value in these emotions, like with most emotions? Should room be made for these feelings, in the heart of an artist? Is there a safe and gainful way to hone these feelings, and use that energy to continue down the path of growth and progress? Or does my limited perspective make me short-sighted and I’m just over-thinking again?