From The Not All About Me File: Learning To Celebrate Others’ Successes

This may be embarrassing, but what the heck.

I’m not sure if you have noticed, but I am a little bit competitive. In some contexts, it’s a great asset.  Like if I was on the Hunger Games, I’d probably live longer.  In other contexts, it’s not quite as helpful.

Take friendships.  Not everyone wants a super competitive friend.  I don’t actually want to be a super competitive friend.  As I made friends in the writing and blogging world, I worried that my talented friends would achieve great success and I would act like a sullen, self-pitying bridesmaid who was jealous she wasn’t the bride.

But like all those rabid Cross-fit fans on Facebook who are everyday finding new muscles and deep mental reserves to draw upon to lift high their kettlebells, I am finding new muscles too.

image credit: tonyadampm.com

image credit: tonyadampm.com

At first I didn’t trust my new muscles.  Was I really able to let go of being competitive so I could celebrate others without making every damn thing about me?  I read drafts of friends’ book– that were excellent— and I rejoiced for them without reservation.  I didn’t worry about being “left behind” as they reached milestones that hadn’t materialized for me.  

I genuinely want them to succeed. I visualize their books in the airport, on Oprah’s lists, and featured in the NYT.

Oh, and speaking of the NYT, a little publication that declined the services of one Outlaw Mama (read the rejection post here), one of my favorite friends made it there this week.  From the moment I knew that Carinn Jade of Welcome To The Motherhood was headed for publication with the venerable New York newspaper, I felt unalloyed joy.  (Read Ms. Jade’s riveting piece here.)  I felt the jolt of ohmygodthenewyorktimesthat’samazing when she told me the news, and there was no subsequent crash wherein I wondered if something that great could ever happen to me. 

I watched bloggers I love and follow (and who feel like my friends) all end up together in a fabulous new book that is skyrocketing through Amazon (I Just Want To Pee Alone by Jen of People I Want To Punch In The Throat).  Would I like to be in the book? Sure. But I’m not.  And I love those ladies and their successes are good for the world.  I want them to kick Tina Fey’s ass and knock her book off its spot at #1.

I’ve become a person who can experience and express joy for others without feeling threatened.

Oh thank the good Lord for that because I’ve got some seriously talented friends and if my character development doesn’t keep up, I am going to end up in an emotional ditch somewhere down by the river contaminated with toxic debris consisting of my self-pity, immaturity and small-heartedness.

Yes, I know most of you learned to be good friends to each other and not make stuff all about you years ago.  Late bloomer here.  So as I celebrate my talented friends’ successes and look to the horizon for more and bigger things from them, I also celebrate my own ability to rise up and join these talented ladies in JOY.

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49 thoughts on “From The Not All About Me File: Learning To Celebrate Others’ Successes

  1. I’m willing to admit that I struggled with this one. The New York Times?! Amazing! I’m so happy for Carinn, but I won’t deny that little pit of despair in my stomach: “Damn, all my friends are light years ahead of me, I’ll never make it as a writer.” And you, with your 80 comments on every post! 🙂

    The truth is, we’re all doing amazing things and we’re all on our own paths. And I do feel so much joy for the many, many people I know who are doing amazing things. (Sometimes my Facebook news feed reads like a Who’s Who of awesome people doing awesome things. Then I close the computer and walk away.) But I think it’s pretty normal to struggle with feelings of not measuring up.

    Glad you’re feeling the joy today!

    • I decided to write when I was feeling it because when I”m not, my writing reads like my journal in highschool but with more F bombs and better vocabulary. Ha! I just can’t live burdened with all the woe woe woe. I feel like i have two choices: stop having friends and social media OR get on the joy train.

      I’ll let you know when I crash from the high.

      On Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 10:27 AM, Outlaw Mama

  2. Holy personal growth, Outlaw Mama!! I’m on the road of progress in this be genuinely happy for others without making it about me or shame for where I am in my process. Luckily I’m not aspiring to be a writer…y’all have set that bar way too high!! Congrats.

  3. I am also so glad you are feeling that joy!
    And trust me Christie, you will get “there”. Where ever your “there” may be!

    • I am grateful for joy wherever I can get it. Also? They did a lot of work while I was probably sitting on the couch eating pudding and talking to Jeff about whether he liked my hair, so they pretty much deserve the accolades!

      On Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 10:34 AM, Outlaw Mama

  4. I ain’t gonna lie…I was jealous when you started blogging at Huffington Post. I’m always jealous of your posts because they are so amazing. But I also remember thinking, ohmygawdthatsawesome. I had coffee the other day with a published author that I previously interviewed for our local paper. He’d just turned in his second manuscript to his publisher, and again I was jealous. But elated that he was named a finalist for the Darrell Award for Mid-South writers. What was really cool was that he mentioned struggling with painting a picture with the right words. I read a line from my short story “The Butterfly Wish” describing an impending storm. He said, “Wow!” and his expression told me he meant it. I think he was a little jealous too. 😉

    • I am jealous of his second draft and I don’t even know him! I am not cured, apparently. And it’s funny how I can still burn inside with jealousy when I think I am doing great about it. One of my friends always says that if you “lean in” to use a buzz term from another topic to other people’s successes, they can rub off on you. I am trying that. Tough stuff.

      On Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 10:39 AM, Outlaw Mama

  5. Can I say I love the tags on this post? If people aren’t reading your tags they are missing subtle greatness. Thank you so much for your support. Being celebrated makes me feel wildly uncomfortable, but knowing you have my back makes it worth it. Thank you.

    I’m learning too and struggle. It’s why I previously only associated with losers and/or men because I was guaranteed to be superior, or at the very least different/distinct (as a woman in a “man’s world”). Now I am friends with amazingly talented women writers and I feel insecure more than ever. But, as you describe, I’ve learned my joy for others is genuine and unfettered. It is. And then usually a day later, I feel all pity and self-destructive. I’m learning to pick myself up quicker and I don’t let it interfere with the friendship. Their successes are not there simply to make me feel bad. It’s clear when I wipe away the cobwebs of my own silly fear.

    But here’s what blew my mind after my Motherlode experience — even my OWN successes make me feel bad about myself. I wonder what I can possibly do next, I deconstruct how I could have done it better, and like yesterday I spent the whole day beating myself up over the other things I’m not doing or that I am half-assed and sucky (like my stupid novel first draft).

    I am writing a post in your comments so I am just going to stop and say one more thing. Thank you. Thank you for this post, of course (so flattered to be part of it), but mostly for your honesty, your support, and your friendship.

    • Well, that’s a whole post in itself right? The buzz kill of getting the place I wanted to be– say, Freshly Pressed, and then feeling like I could have done it better or finding out that some people get Freshly Pressed more than once. That almost sent me to the suicide prevention b/c I used that fact to take away my own joy in the moment. I can’t believe other people do what I do to myself. It makes me sad for you but so much less lonely. This is a fascinating topic.

      On Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 10:42 AM, Outlaw Mama

  6. As much as I might want the success of others, I am wholly dedicated to congratulating and genuinely feeling excited and happy for the successes that are not mine. And that last tag? Man. I can’t admit to not feeling pangs of jealousy now and then, BUT, they don’t detract from my happiness for that person. How I manage to allow jealousy and envy and unbridled joy to coexist so well, I don’t know. I don’t know.

  7. Yep, got the jealous thing down. But I too am learning the happiness part of it. I genuinely want us ALL to succeed. Then we can sing Kumbaya and happily eat brownies around the campfire.

  8. I can so relate. I normally have a competitive instinct that is legendary in my family. (I mean, to this day, not a single family member will play a board game with me because everyone has decided that it’s just not worth it after decades of tantrums, pouting, and tears.) I generally reserve my competitive feelings to specific areas in which I feel that I have competence. For instance, I never cared that I sucked at gym class because I knew that I had no natural talent. (Same thing for singing, musical abilities, artistic skills, etc.) I’m a new blogger, but the thing that I love about blogging is that I can be really competitive with myself (is my number of views increasing each day?) without feeling competitive with other bloggers. Because it seems like we all sort of have our own niche…. Ask me about it in a few months though.

      • totally love it, and i hope so, but… i can not continue with my thoughts… big brother an all. 😉

        on another crazy brain note – i’m stressing over my YW post. i feel like i’m just talking to myself and it’s not so happy. i don’t think i’m gonna post it.. sorry, there i go thinking out loud. 😉

      • Here’s my take on that, not that you asked. First, there is no wrong answer. You can post it or not and both routes have their virtues. I am obviously a compulsive poster b/c I have serious OCD issues, but I’ll give a vote for posting it. Get it out, post it, take in the love and then move on. They can’t all be gems. AT least mine can’t. I’ll read it, learn something about you and maybe myself and I’ll comment and then your next gem will show up. That’s how I think of it.

        Not that you asked. Plus, I love you on the grid.

  9. We were sitting here having a blog meeting (aka drinking a Starbucks and discussing the new season of Dancing With The Stars), so we just happened to read this together. Your kettlebell reference made us laugh for 5 minutes straight!

    We totally get you! We’re on the competitive side, too. When we see posts that go viral it’s hard not to think…”Why? Why not us? Our “xyz” post was funny, right?” We’ve just decided we are going to have to be those people that build our empire one hard-won click at a time. BAH!

    It helps us that we only follow people we really like and enjoy. We genuinley are happy for their success because we think of them as friends–even if we’ve never met. The best thing about blogging is that there is no one yardstick measurment that is “made it”. There’s room for all of us to be BlogHer voices of the year (ahem!) or in a book, or going viral…whatever! 🙂 –The Dose Girls

  10. It’s one of those hard things we all struggle with. I definitely get worried sometimes that I’m not going to keep up, to measure up, to ever be as good. But then I just have to stop and look at what I’ve already accomplished, and remember that there is enough room for all of us to have our successes and joys, and that we have to celebrate them together.

    I really need to read that book, by the way. Jenn is in Listen to Your Mother with me. I can’t wait to meet her.

  11. Late bloomers unite! This is so happy! Lately my joy-for-others-success muscles have gotten more workouts also and I’m grateful to be replacing old ruts in my brain with fresh tracks. Slowly. Grateful cause the alternatives ain’t pretty. Yay for more joy and for your big, talented heart! xoxo

  12. Oh, jealousy, my other self… I don’t have the time to be jealous right now, life’s too insane. So I’m putting jealousy on the back burner. Maybe when I come through this, I’ll have learned how to keep it there…

  13. Yes. Focus on new muscles. If you sit idle too long, your mind really become the Devil’s own playground. Or, if you’re like me, it becomes more like the Devil’s Epcot. Whichever.

  14. Sometimes I get those pangs too when people are so much more successful than I am at this writing thing. But then I remember that I just freaking love to write. I love picking words and making sentences and telling stories. And I get to do that, every single day. So even though I hope that there is more for me out there, if my blog is as far as it ever gets, I am more than happy with that.

  15. I definitely know what you mean and how you feel. I’ve experienced those pangs of jealousy too and forever questioning “Why are others so lucky and I always get the short end of the stick?” But I think I’ve mellowed down and despite those same feelings trying to seek my attention every now and then, I try my best to find it in my heart to be happy for them. Best part is finding out I am really happy for them.

  16. One of the things I admire most about you is that you are not lumped in with a group. You go your own road, pave your own way. I think it’s more brave to strike out on your own than go with the safety (or help) of a group. Not to detract from their success of good fortune- but honestly. I feel the individual doing her thing is more of a statement than anything else. And what the heck IS Freshly Pressed?! See how out of the loop I am? Sheesh. At least you’re not me 🙂

  17. This is so relatable. I think, since I’m a scientist and not actually a writer, I have low expectations so I tend not to be jealous since I think everyone else writes so much better. Plus, I’m so overwhelmed by just trying to post a few times per week and read all of the blogs I subscribe to, that I have no idea how to have time to work on being more successful or getting out there more. I’m already neglecting about 1000 projects around the house!

    Good for you for being in this happy place. I have no doubt your day will come – your posts are consistently awesome. I wish I had your gift.

      • I’m doing laundry right now! Everyone gets stabby sometimes. My most stabby time was when several of my friends were pregnant but I had to delay b/c of the cancer thing. I hated that I was stabby about their baby happiness.

      • Oh, I was super stabby when everyone was pregnant and I was not even dating anyone. And I didn’t have cancer. My friends were great about me running to the bathroom to cry during their baby showers. I can only imagine how you must have felt with everything you were dealing with.

  18. Funny – perspective is everything. I consider you one of those superstar successful bloggers. You are such a great writer and I really couldn’t believe it when you said your blog is only a year old. I like the whole ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’ logic. So I guess I’m saying I bet your wave is coming. Or grab a life vest? Or practice your backstroke? I don’t know. But your blog is great.

  19. I completely get you on this one. It is so hard to not be jealous of the talent or time or opportunity that others seem to get. My envy gets the better of me sometimes and I get stuck – I can’t write a thing. Sometimes I can talk myself out of it. Sometimes no.

    Yours is one of the blogs I really admire. Your following, the fact that you can write with such frequency and still have something to say, your style, etc. I’m sure your dreams will come true. You are a great writer 🙂

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