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More specifically, professional jealousy. Niche down further and you’ve got “jealousy rooted in the resentment of having no time to devote to your once blossoming career because you had kids and the people you know on TV and on Broadway are all child-free and oh it must be so nice to get a full nights rest because I haven’t slept in almost eight years.”
Have you ever found yourself feeling a pang of jealousy when you see your childfree peers soaring in their careers while you took a break to raise your children?
I have. I do.
But I know I’m not alone. You’re not alone in this, either.
I’ve been there. There are days that I’m still there, but I manage better than I did before. I used to complain out loud to friends but got hit back with “well, that’s what happens when you have kids.” Like, yeah, thanks for the support. I imagine you’ve experienced some of the same.
Your dreams and aspirations mixed with the competition that’s out there can turn into poison if you aren’t able to manage your professional jealousy. As a former singer-actor turned parent, it’s not uncommon to feel left behind in the dust and diapers while your child-free colleagues find the success you still dream of.
Here are some strategies for managing professional jealousy that worked for me.
Understanding the WHY
Understanding the source of jealousy is the first step in managing it. Professional jealousy among performance artists often arises from comparing achievements and appearances. It’s normal to feel a pang in your chest when friends succeed without you, especially if you attribute it to their child-free lifestyle. You might find yourself thinking, “If I didn’t have kids, I’d have more time to pursue acting and maybe be on TV too.”
Acknowledge that your jealousy stems from unfulfilled desires and dreams. It’s common to feel guilty about neglecting them, given the time and energy you once devoted. Allow yourself to fully experience the pain and ugliness of jealousy without self-judgment. Take this as an opportunity for personal growth. Remember, jealousy doesn’t define you, but how you respond to it does. Reflect on the root causes of your jealousy. Is it because you feel you’ve failed yourself? Do you feel out of practice or left behind? By identifying the origin of these emotions, you can effectively address them.
Acceptance and Focus
Gratitude is a potent antidote to jealousy. By practicing gratitude, you shift your focus from your peers’ achievements to your own accomplishments. Dedicate a few moments each day to reflect on what you’re grateful for in your life and career. Pay attention to your creative journey and acknowledge all the lessons you’ve learned along the way. Gratitude also cultivates an abundance mentality. Keep in mind that there are abundant opportunities awaiting you, even as your children grow and become more independent. In fact, there are opportunities available to you right now (consider exploring activities for actors during hiatus) if you seek them out. Utilize this time to channel your energy towards personal growth. Let gratitude guide you on a path of fulfillment.
Reignite Your Passion
Remember, you are a storyteller—an embodiment of emotions and narratives. Embrace this truth wholeheartedly.
Celebrate Your Wins
In addition, acknowledge and appreciate the accomplishments you have made as a parent. The act of raising children is a continuous and monumental achievement in itself. It deserves celebration and recognition. Often, we become fixated on what comes next, and during a career hiatus, the next thing may not be immediately apparent. However, it’s important to recognize how far you have already come. Celebrating your wins doesn’t diminish your future goals; it serves as a reminder of your potential and the incredible things you are capable of.
Embracing and celebrating your accomplishments is about honoring your unique journey and finding joy in each step. Success should not be solely measured by external rewards and applause but by personal growth and the positive impact you have on those around you, particularly your children.
Set Realistic Goals
Avoid falling into the comparison trap. A friend of mine’s star is climbing right now and sometimes it hurts to watch because we started at the same time. But her success would have happened anyway because she is who she is – a talented and tenacious performer with a solid work ethic and for as long as I’ve known her, is laser focused on her goals. She knew what she wanted and went after it, and none of those goals included children.
If I sat here comparing my friend’s life with mine, I’d go mad with envy. I know, because I’ve already driven myself crazy. What I had to learn to do is redefine my own measure of success, look back on what I’m most proud of, decide what I would like to achieve both artistically and personally, and focus on my own path. Focus on new goals.
Time is finite, and incorporating additional pursuits into an already packed schedule can be challenging. Break your goals into manageable chunks and celebrate each small step of progress. By concentrating on your own journey instead of others’ achievements, you can channel your energy into more productive endeavors.
Celebrate Others’ Success
Admittedly, it took me quite a while to reach this point of acceptance. Eventually, I came to realize that their achievements were not a reflection of my own shortcomings but rather a testament to what is possible for me as well. Moreover, I genuinely cared about my friends, and my negative attitude left me feeling ashamed. Celebrating their victories required less energy than harboring pettiness and jealousy, and it brought about a much better feeling too.
I came to understand that their success did not diminish my own self-worth. It did not mean I should have made different choices or lived my life in an entirely different way. Each person’s journey is unique and deeply personal. It became clear to me that it was important to support my friends, to offer congratulations, and to be there for them during their events (if I could arrange childcare!). Expressing love and genuine happiness for them became a way for me to strengthen our bond and find joy in their accomplishments.
Support and Connection
Sharing your victories, stories, frustrations, and joys with this network can be incredibly liberating and cathartic. It’s a space where you can freely express yourself and find solace in knowing that others have experienced similar situations. Their insight and support can be invaluable as you navigate your own journey.
Surrounding yourself with a community of supportive individuals will provide the inspiration and motivation you need to continue pursuing your dreams, whether they still lie within the entertainment industry or not, all while fulfilling your responsibilities as a parent. By fostering this environment of mutual support, you can transform feelings of professional jealousy into a powerful source of inspiration.
Remember, success is not a linear path, and each person’s journey is unique. Embrace your own individuality, have confidence in your talent and dedication, and keep moving forward on your artistic path.