Before I had kids, I used to see other parents and think: “When I’m a parent I’ll never (fill in the blank.)”
And then I became a parent.
It was humbling just how many of those “fill in the blanks” I did. Lollipops in the morning (airplane rides.) TV as babysitter. (I had Swine Flu). Screaming at the top of my lungs. (More often than I’d like to admit.)
Suddenly, I wasn’t so judgmental. As a parent, you do what you have to do to stay sane, keep your children from bodily harm, and keep those around you from wanting to strangle your perfectly lovely (most of the time) but (at the moment) incredibly, inappropriately loud children.
And then I started blogging.
Why did she get that invitation and I didn’t? Why is her Alexa Ranking so much higher than mine? She’s working with WHAT brand? That’s not to say I wasn’t happy for my new friends’ successes. But the truth is, often, it’s hard not to be jealous of others’ success in your sphere. That’s just the truth. As a full fledged, mortgage carrying, crows-footed, tween totin’, grown up, I can (at least outwardly) squelch my jealousy – my shameful, embarrassing jealousy – and congratulate others on their triumphs. And mean it. Truly mean it.
But still. There’s that jealousy thing. Those pangs, like acupuncture pin pricks, not painful, exactly, but you know that if you just make one wrong move – man, is it going to hurt.
But recently, I’ve had my own success. KidzVuz, the company I founded with Rebecca Levey of Beccarama.com, was featured in the Wall Street Journal. And suddenly, that jealousy masked as praise was directed at me.
Most people were terrific – they sent emails, and Facebook messages about how happy they were for us. They Tweeted about the article and passed it around. But some people – people I thought were friends – or at least close colleagues – were silent. And that silence spoke volumes. And in others, I recognized myself — it wasn’t that they didn’t genuinely wish us well, but that their jealousy was palpable. As I’m sure mine has been numerous times I’ve congratulated someone – and been happy for them – but still felt jealous, and disappointed – why not me, too?
A few years ago at Bissdom, I heard someone speak about Blogger Jealousy. (Although really, anyone, in any industry, can be jealous of another’s success. It always strikes me as sexist that women – especially bloggers – get singled out.) But what the speaker said was “If someone gets a job or an opportunity that you did not, rather than sitting around complaining, or feeling jealous, think to yourself ‘what did that person do that I’m not doing to get herself that opportunity?’ Chances are, she worked harder.”
Rebecca and I worked hard these past two years. We learned COPPA laws, and investment terms. We wrote a business plan, made spreadsheets, hired developers and designers and lawyers, and an accountant. We filed for a registered trademark, wrote and sent out press releases, watched countless kids’ videos, schlepped banners and handouts across the country and hawked our wares on trade room floors, and (most horribly for me) created a term sheet (first, having to learn what that really was) and endlessly bugged our Friends and Family for investment money. Once we raised that money, we distributed Subscription Agreements, and an amendment to that agreement, and another amendment to that. We created bank accounts and got a company credit card. We stayed up late in the night to make sure that kids in different times zones still got to see their videos up right away. We spent thousands upon thousands of dollars, and thousands upon thousands of hours building KidzVuz. And it’s only the beginning.
I know a lot of people do just that, and they don’t get a cover story in the Wall Street Journal. Because that’s where luck comes in. But as my father’s business partner used to say “Luck is putting yourself in the position to get lucky.” And we worked hard for that position. There’s nothing more insulting than being told “You’re so lucky.” Not lucky. Ready. Hard working. Aware.
Still, I know there are plenty of times when I think “what luck” when someone I know has something marvelous happen.
But just like the me before I was a parent, and after -I’m talking about the me before I really worked my butt off to accomplish something- and after. Now that I’ve worked this hard for my “luck” – now that I continue to work that hard – I don’t think I’ll be so jealous of other people’s accomplishments anymore.
Oh, sure, I’ll be jealous. Just not SO jealous. Because I’ll know what it took to “get lucky.” What it takes, to even taste success.
It’s hard. It’s exciting and exhilarating, and challenging and fun and frustrating and thrilling — and did I mention, really, really, hard.
Plus, if Rebecca and I don’t make the most of the opportunity the article created, it will have just been a lost opportunity. Not a big success. The article isn’t in itself a measure of our success; it’s what we do with the exposure it has afforded us that matters.
So to everyone out there poised for success or enjoying it already- I know how hard it is, and I salute you. I know the hours you put in and I respect that.
But am I still a bit jealous? You bet.