Green Eyed Monsters Always Look Out For You
Some people see the green-eyed monster of jealousy as a bad thing. But, sometimes, I think it is merely our brain’s way of looking out for our best interests.
I have allowed my green-eyed monster to stop me from climbing out onto various limbs and making a complete fool out of myself many times over my lifetime. It has stopped me in my tracks from stepping out in front of an audience of any size even if it is a supportive one. It has let me walk away from a number of challenges and dreams before they put me in a position to fail.
The question is – has this served me well?
Let me provide some examples.
Growing up, we moved a lot. I was often “the new kid” and as a result, was often the center of attention (at least on the first day at a new school). This may strike fear in the hearts of those who have never been in this position, but I truly think that moving around like that was a growth experience for me. I met some great kids in different states, and I learned the importance of staying in touch with those I left behind. I also learned, as the years passed and we stayed in Upstate NY where we finally landed, the value of long-standing relationships with people who you go to school with for years and years. I often contemplate how fate played a huge role in my meeting my husband, who was my high school sweetheart. If we had stayed in Illinois where I was born, or in one of the other states we moved to when I was young, I would have never met the love of my life. So, there were some positive things that came from moving a bit.
In being a new kid in town, I learned that putting myself out there and taking a chance was the only way to make friends and show them what I was all about. I never had much of a problem stepping into the spotlight or drawing attention to myself. Truth be told, in high school at least, I was a bit of a glory hound. Drama club and voice lessons/recitals put me on a literal stage and I loved every minute of it.
Then came music school…Suffice it to say, as I have mentioned in previous posts, I was a very very small fish in a very large and very talented pond. And, this is where I was first introduced to my green-eyed monster. Being in performance class with senior opera majors when I was a freshman slapped down any urge for the spotlight that I had when I first walked onto campus! I would sit in the back of the room and listen to these incredibly talented individuals belt out an aria with such depth and range and I knew I didn’t belong there – me, with my love of mere show tunes! Who was I kidding? I was an imposter. had id not have the skill set to run with the big dogs and I was terrified that I would be found out.
So, I put off my debut in class as long as I possibly could. I shrank into my shell when I was asked to skat in theory class. I hid behind my music stand when we were asked to play solos in my keyboard skills class. I think I developed ulcers worrying over my sight-reading in Aural Theory. I was a beginner at so many of these things – skills that everyone around me seemed to have been exposed to since birth!
So, tell me? Did the green-eyed monster serve me well?
Looking back, I would say no. It actually did me a deep disservice. My fear of performing in front of people who were more skilled than I was kept me from trying and putting myself in a position where I could learn from my fellow students and most likely improve my own skills. It kept me from ever taking a chance and maybe discovering that I was not as bad as my little monster would have me believe. I could have used that boost of confidence back then and many times since.
The same disservice occurs every time I walk away from something new. If I listen to the green-eyed monster, my mind is so full of fear of failure that I don’t even take a chance. Will I suck? Will they laugh? Will they know that I don’t have a clue what I am doing?
Well, what if you do suck? So what? Will the world come to an end? I don’t think so. Do you think maybe Pavarotti or Barbara Streisand sucked the first time they opened their mouths and reached for that high note? (Well, actually, they were probably born with those incredible voices, but you understand where I am coming from!) My green-eyed monster was comparing their finished product with my beginner efforts.
This is something I think a lot of us do in many areas of our lives. Drawing? I would love to be able to draw but when my stick figures don’t look like the professional picture I am longing to create, I put the pencil down. Piano? An instrument that speaks to me every time I hear someone tinkle the ivories. Yet, my clunky attempts at playing a well-balanced scale in my first month of lessons had me making excuses and not even showing up to practice in a room alone! Violin lessons? Loved them! But those little kids who also took lessons when I was a 38-year-old beginner were a lot better than I was! The mere presence of another student being in the vicinity had me fumbling around the finger board and quickly packing up my music.
Writing? Why yes, I do love to write. But to show my work to anyone, including loved ones, would mean that they are privy to my beginning attempts at a new story and the characters are still sort of flat, and there are plot holes, and the dialogue is a little stilted and….
I think maybe you are seeing a pattern. The green-eyed monster has made me an expert. Not in anything that I have wanted to learn to do well. But in excuses. Because the green-eyed monster will protect me to the end. It will keep me from shining a little light on my attempts at doing something new. It will also help me make plausible excuses to explain to anyone who asks why I am no longer doing something I love – no time, too expensive, so busy, so tired, not good enough… I have grown really talented at excuses. And if that was the goal, well then, yes, the green-eyed monster has done its job.
But just in case I have other goals and dreams hidden in my heart, I think I may try to ignore the green-eyed monster for a bit. I think I will try to immerse myself in my amateur attempts and surround myself with people who are more talented or skilled than I am instead of only wanting to play if I am the best one in the room. I think I will let myself learn from those who have gone before me and nurtured their talents longer. Yes, I think I may put the green-eyed monster back in its cage and just see what happens when I let myself make a lot of noise and sloppy mistakes.
Is the green-eyed monster holding you back?