The Green-Eyed Monster

Most people do not readily admit to feeling jealous of another. They don’t typically acknowledge envy either.

In a highly competitive profession like singing, there is bound to be both jealousy and envy in all its various forms. It’s tricky to handle it when you are the recipient of nasty behavior on the part of someone who envies you or is jealous of what you have or have done.

In a way, we are taught to conform from our earliest days, since we need to live within our society’s expectations. We teach children while they are still quite young what is and is not acceptable behavior. In families where there is some kind of moral grounding, children are taught to be grateful and appreciative for what they have, generous and patient and to be happy for the success of others. That’s not always what happens, however. Some people don’t teach any special values and some even teach that wanting what others have and trying to take it and make it your own is a good idea. Nasty.

I have seen many vocal artists up close and personal over the years and I can vouch for the fact that it doesn’t take much for someone who is already successful to face undermining behavior from others. Being successful automatically sets one up to be on the receiving end of “who does she think she is anyway” and “she’s not so great”, and for a lot of negative judgment to accompany the successes coming along the career pike.

People who have “made it to the top” have lots of fans and followers but quite a few detractors as well. If the person is famous enough, they maybe have a full time buffer zone of individuals whose job it is to take the edge off comments of others and make sure the artist is protected from all sorts of disagreeable things. If they are not famous they are left to their own devices to fend off the barbs of critics or colleagues, and that’s not always an easy job.

If you are working with a lot of average people and you are someone who shines, you will not be well liked by your co-workers, since you make them look bad. If you are auditoning with a lot of average performers and you come in and knock the socks off the other candidates, you are not going to be their darling. It is a sad testament to our society that people who are talented, motivated and eager are often on the receiving end of jealousy and envy, the green-eyed monsters.

If you can’t hold up to the jealousy and envy of others, or even to their direct attacks, threats and ability to tear you down, you won’t do well when you succeed, because it comes with the territory that the people who can’t be successful will resent your accomplishments. The profession of singing is one of the most competitive and you must have a very secure sense of yourself if you are to go out into the world and stand up to all manner of criticism as a student, a young performer, a more seasoned professional and then, maybe, even a star. The NY Times doesn’t care if you’ve had a 30 year career, the reviewers still wait for their first opportunity to say that you have started to “decline”. These days no one is so “beloved” that the media will leave them alone if there is something, anything, to pick on.

Be careful if you are someone who envies or resents another’s success. There is no limit on how many people can be successful, even if you think there is. Rather, rejoice that someone else is doing well because that means that you, too, can do well, and that “doing well”, in fact, actually is possible in the first place. Be careful that you are not sending out barbs, or do things that are undermining, because the community of professionals who sing is rather small in each style and sooner or later that kind of behavior will come back to haunt you. Instead, celebrate other singers whose abilities you admire. Learn to appreciate those who are doing what you want also to do. Then, when you finally do “make it”and the barbs come your way (and they will), you will be more much able to let them go, to let them not make a dent in your sense of self. The green-eyed monster may be out there, but you don’t have to look at it.

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