The picture above was Nat Allegri‘s response to pictured question on her tumblr. It’s probably the best possible reaction to a bizarrely bitter attack from an envious observer.
A hater, if you will. Hello, haters.
I always have a hard time understanding the sort of mindset that leads to this sort of animosity. Some people see that others have succeeded, that others have found fulfillment, that others have eked out a bit of happiness in life, and the only question they can ask is, “What right do they have?” They might look at their own qualifications compared to the successful one and marvel at the unfairness of it all. I’m not immune to it, either. I often see the work of hack novelists and grouse about how they’re paid writers and I’m not.
Then I remember that I don’t write anything.
This aspect of envy is poisonous. It allows a person to project their dissatisfaction externally when it is so often more productive to look inward, to look to the things one does have control over. I don’t mean to say that the envious one is to blame; rather, why assign blame at all? Someone is successful. Feel joy for them! Feeling anger at the success of another assumes that there is a finite amount of success and happiness to be found in the world, and when another finds any, it limits the amount left for the rest of us. This is a dangerously cutthroat way to view life. In the above example of Nat and her accuser, sure, there are technically a limited number of animation jobs available in television, but the barrier to publication of media is almost nonexistent these days. There are plenty of fantastically talented artists making a living for themselves online, and as long as they make great work that people want to support, they will continue to thrive. There is no scarcity of opportunity.
I understand that one can feel frustrated, spending all that money on an education and then seeing your dream job go to an apparently flippant autodidact. But you know what? That’s her personal blog, so maybe telling jokes is what she likes to do there. That sort of makes sense for someone who works on a funny cartoon, right? To make funny comics in her spare time? Don’t take it as an attempt on her part to burn the bridge to success behind her like the Andrew Carnegie of animation. Don’t take it personally. Just enjoy the jokes. Just be happy for her.
This applies to the already successful and employed, as well, when they are jealously wary of newcomers or new trends. Again, this is a projection, externalizing one’s own insecurities and fears of loss onto the world at large. And that fear makes sense! You have a great job or a great position or some other thing you cherish and would hate to lose, and the world changes (as it does) around you, and you naturally fear those changes will creep into your own world and subvert that which makes you happy. But honestly, what good does it do to shake a fist at the kids on the lawn? The best therapy for this insecurity is to simply do one’s best in one’s own way. Trust that those who supported you before will continue to support you. Trust that those who recognize your enthusiasm will support you anew. Trust that those who weren’t going to support you anyway will not be swayed by affectation.
This is not to say that envy and jealousy cannot catalyze positive developments. Much of this line of thought came from a conversation with Redgie, who described how envy often turned him toward self-improvement. It makes plenty of sense: You see what impressive feat someone (perhaps with similar circumstances to your own) has achieved and suddenly what was once insurmountable seems all too possible.
“What right do they have?” begat “Why not me?” begat “Why not me too?” begat “Let’s do this.”