"But they are!" you protest, upon reading the title of this post.
It certainly feels that way. When you graduate from college and your best friend immediately books a national tour, it feels that way. Or when you finally get that callback, and you discover your friend with the flawless B flat has been called back too. When, after six callbacks you finally book a hot new workshop, and another friend posts that he's booked a production contract.
It never ends!
No, really, it never ends. Having been in this business for over ten years, I can assure you that someone is always going to be doing better than you.
And someone is always going to be doing worse.
A career in the arts requires extreme mental fortitude. If you take nothing else away from this blog, understand that. Everyone's journey is different, and each of us is on his or her own path. Learn this lesson as quickly as you can, or life will teach it to you over and over again until it has been ground into your skull and your psyche. Everyone's path is different.
"Got it," you say. But understanding intellectually is entirely different from the emotional gut punch that comes from getting cut from a dance call while your friend is asked to stay. In that case, it's very, very hard to wish your friend well. It's even harder to mean it.
But you must. You must do this for your friend, and your friend must do it for you. (Or else s/he isn't really your friend.) You need your friends. You need a good support system. You need people who Get It. You need people on the inside to tell you when a track is opening up. You need them to pass your headshot on to the dance captain. You need someone who can get you house seats. Most importantly, you need someone who will cheer for you when you get your next exciting gig.
In her eye-opening book, The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron writes, "Competition is another spiritual drug.... when we are ogling the accomplishments of others, we take our eye away from our own through line." Instead of thinking, "He or she did it; therefore, so can I," our ego insists that he or she is succeeding instead of us. "The footrace mentality," Cameron says, "is always the ego's demand to be not just good, but also first and best."
In order to be happy-- not successful, but happy-- you must check your ego. When your friend books something great, you must train yourself to think, "That person succeeded, and so will I." That way your friend's success becomes your success, too. You will find yourself happier, healthier and with a cadre of wonderful, successful, supportive friends.