Monday, September 28, 2009

Comparison, Thy Name Is Krista

Of all my faults (and I have a few), the one I seem to grapple with the most is my tendency to compare. Now I’m not talking about arrogance or superiority here, although I manage to pull those ones off pretty effectively sometimes. No, the real fault I struggle with is jealousy: comparison from the bottom looking up.

My first real encounter with this so-called green-eyed monster occurred not long after my husband and I were first married. It started when, a few months later, we discovered we were pregnant. But it didn’t become a problem until, exactly nine days after that, we lost the baby.

Another month went by, then two. We started trying to conceive again, but nothing. And nothing. And still nothing. By the time six months had passed, my insides started twisting whenever I spotted a pregnant woman--and let me tell you, I was a professional pregnant-woman spotter by then. By the time a year had gone by, my insides stopped feeling altogether.

I don’t know why I held onto the jealousy so long. It’s pointless, exhausting work, after all, and I was hurting no one but myself. Thankfully, my pain--and with it, my envy--gradually did begin to mellow. I realized that I could look at expectant mothers again without wanting to scratch their eyes out (horrible of me, I know, especially since pregnant women had been involved), and I remembered this talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a leading authority in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a beautiful writer to boot.

Despite their religious overtones, his words apply to a large number of life circumstances, including baby craving. They reminded me that, in the grand scheme of things, another’s success is not my failure. That even when we seem to be competing against each other, we are really just competing against ourselves.

Now I’m having to relearn this lesson in my quest for an agent. It’s so easy to read about another aspiring author who’s just landed that dream agent, or placed seven partials instead of six, or sent a full manuscript to the same agent who only requested my partial (notice how each one of these is becoming more pathetic), and think, “What makes them so special?” or “Why can’t that be me?”

But the fact of the matter is, that success is not my failure. In fact, that success should only give me hope. Because I am not of the opinion that agents are only looking to fill a fixed number of slots on their rosters and turn everyone else away. They are simply looking for great stories, and I just have to find the one who thinks my story’s great. If Aspiring Author Number One can do it, then so can I.

Easier said than done, I know. There are definitely days--and sometimes weeks and months--when all of this feels hopeless, when I’m positive I’ll never see my words in print. But those days and weeks and months eventually pass, and hope returns. That’s what’s so great about being human: We’re generally hopeful creatures. And hope is a powerful antidote to envy.


ChristaCarol Jones said...

"Hope is a powerful antidote to envy." Well said!

Jer said...

I love how you said that others' successes aren't your failure--so true. President Benson said the same thing in his "Beware of Pride" talk. I try to remember that (try being the operative word here) when I get a case of the green-eyed monster.

(I'm LDS, too, by the way...small world!)

Krista Van Dolzer said...

That's a great talk also, Jer. And what a coincidence that you're LDS, too.

And ChristaCarol, thanks for dropping in.

Ryan said...

Great post. My wife and I have been through two miscarries but we're at 7 months now and due to have the boy in April! It was really hard for her to even talk to my sister who was pregnant at the time.

I always try and tell myself that envy is natural. I try and differentiate between envy and jealousy. There's a difference between thinking,"Damn how did that person get a book deal!" or thinking "That person got a book deal. I want one too."

The latter is perfectly normal but wishing someone didn't have something because that's what you want is bad Ju for sure.


Ryan(Nathan's Blog)

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thanks for stopping by, Ryan. I'm glad I stumbled on your comment. (Maybe I should just enable that dumb comment moderator, just so I don't miss stuff...)

Anyway, huge congrats on the upcoming birth of your son. Our first was a boy, too:)

Suzanne said...

I know I'm commenting forever after the post, but this is timeless. I think for me that envy (and it's older sister, jealousy) become a consistent problem when I'm coming at life from a perspective of scarcity. When I think I don't have enough, and can't get by with what I have, it's easy for everyone else's lives to start looking pretty good. Tallying up the plus signs in my life is generally the best cure--though not always easy!

Thanks for a great post that made me think that through!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Suzanne, thank you so much for commenting! You know, I still think about this post sometimes because comparison is something I still struggle with (surprise, surprise). Your idea of tallying up all the plus signs in life is a great one. Gratitude - and serving others - are perhaps the best ways to overcome jealousy.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this. While I am not a green eyed envy monster, I've too have been having endless and exhaustive fertility issues, but I am having the monster creep up over hearing others are finding agents and I'm not. I found your post totally inspirational. I need to get over myself and remain steadfast and positive!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Anon, my heart goes out to you. There is nothing as frustrating and emotionally exhausting as trying to have children and not being able to (although trying to land an agent and not being able to does run a close second). I don't know if/when things will work out, but I'm living proof that they CAN. In the meantime, I'm glad you found the post helpful. That's why we write, to connect with someone else.

Good, good luck to you, Anon. Just know that someone in Mesquite, Nevada, is rooting for you:)