I have struggled with this feeling for as long as I can remember, but I’ve never vocalized it to anyone because it feels so stupid and egotistical. But it’s really quite devastating, and I feel like I’m probably not alone in this. I just don’t see it talked about. So I’m going to throw my perspective out there.
I have this weird aversion to reading things about or by people who were successful at something, especially something that I want to be successful at. Like making and releasing a video game, for example. By successful, I mean generally well-known amongst their community and highly regarded by their fans and peers. Not necessarily financially successful, but that often follows suit. I find it odd because there is a lot of good, successful media produced by these successful groups - books, videos, blogs, etc. Plus, there’s a lot of time and money tied up in the industry of motivation. So people must be consuming this, and listening to their advice, and enjoying it. Right?
Why do I hate it so much?
When I come across something that’s been published by a person or group that I would hold in high regard, I find myself extremely hesistant to approach it. And I know this is a blatantly bad, closed-minded behavior. I want to be successful at whatever I do (presumably everyone does), and success rarely happens in a vacuum, so I should be learning everything that I can from those who tread this ground before me. Why, then, does every inclination in my brain push me to avoid hearing about other successful people? And is this a fear of successful people, or a fear of success itself?
I think envy has to be a component of this irrational fear, whatever it may be. When I see someone who is extremely good at something - in my case, that could be anything from a game dev blog to an extremely in-depth game music tutorial - I want to be as good as them at whatever it is they do. But I know I can’t just take their success and expertise, nor do I want to. I want to earn it. I have to - there is no other option. And I don’t even have to be “better than them” to feel accomplished, but I do need to be good enough to actually produce something. Thinking of it like that, I think not so much envious of how good they are at something, but simply envious that they have created something. They’ve seen a project to its conclusion, when I feel like I have nothing to show. It seems like an impossibly monumental task to me.
That envy quickly turns to fear. A sort of dread that makes me think, “I’ll never be successful at any of this stuff” or “This is going to just be another false start and will sit in my ‘Unfinished Projects’ folder for eternity”. That fear turns to hopelessness. And… well, it doesn’t get any better from there. So I’ll just give up and binge watch some 30-minute teardowns on 90’s cartoon on Youtube rather than a single 10-minute interview with the game developer who’s already done the thing I want to do. I would rather give up and waste my time than try to learn from other people, it seems.
This hesitation has been going on for years, and it’s done nothing but make me feel terrible about myself. In the past couple of months, I’ve attempted to tackle this envy, fear, and hopelessness head on. I recognize this character flaw now, and for me to continue succumbing to it would make me an idiot. It’s that simple. So when given the chance, I will read that article, or watch that interview, and it will hurt. It’s stressful, even though I know that it shouldn’t be. Recognizing that it’s going to suck beforehand helps me get through it.
And you know what? Every time I approach these subjects and see them through, it hurts a little less. It’s like a little reaffirmation that this fear is totally unjustified. And that maybe I can learn a lot from other people, if I just try, you know?
So if anyone else out there is struggling with this particular brand of egotism and desperation - I’m right there with you. I encourage you to take that first step - acknowledge that this sucks, but take a step forward in spite of it. It will get better. Despite what your brain is telling you, you don’t need to be better than every successful person in the world, but ignoring everything that anyone has ever done is only going to hold you back. I’m pretty confident in that.
a not-yet-successful guy
successful writer of at least 13 blog posts
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