Throughout much of my writing career, I was fueled by jealousy.
It’s an ugly admission, but a real one. Whenever someone succeeded, or attained a level I hadn’t reached, I struggled to be happy. I wanted what they had; felt like I deserved what they had; needed what they had. I vividly remember a classic example: In 1993, I was a student at the University of Delaware, covering the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis. I was sitting in the fourth or fifth row, watching Blue Hens-Louisville, when I struck up a conversation with Ashley Fox (her last name now), an Indiana student who had interned at Sports Illustrated.
As she spoke of her experiences, Ashley raved about New York and the magazine and the different writers and … and … I seethed. She was as nice as could be, but all I could think was, “Why her? Why not me?” I had always dreamed of working for SI, and that conversation served as extra fuel.
To hell with Ashley. To hell with her. I belonged at SI! Me!
Years later, I made it to the magazine. And maybe, just maybe, that jealousy worked in my favor. Maybe it pushed me harder than I’d have otherwise pushed myself.
That said—it’s ugly, awful, pathetic bullshit. Jealousy doesn’t just cause one to root for himself—it brings him/her to push against someone else’s success. Ashley’s rise made me want to witness Ashley’s fall. I’m not entirely sure why, because someone else’s good work doesn’t impact mine one iota. It’s just … immaturity. Stupidity. Dumb.
I’m now 41, pushing 42. I have lost the jealousy, while maintaining the drive. I actually Googled Ashley before writing this, and see she’s had a long, prosperous, fantastic career.
That makes me quite happy.