I'm a technician at a big ol' pharmaceutical company. A damn good technician, if I do say so myself.
My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.
Oh internets, I try to be a happy, contributing, team member. I really do. Most of the time, I'm happy for the experimental success of other people in my group - honestly! We're all in it together! Everyone's success contributes to the larger goal! It's a beautiful Care Bears Tea Party!!!
Ok... so that's not entirely true.
My officemate presented some of his work at our group meeting. It's really awesome stuff - I mean, I've been hearing about it for the month that he's been working on it, and I've been impressed the whole way, both with the amount of effort he's put into it and the awesomeness of the results - and this was the first time he'd shown it widely. Everyone lost their shit over his data. People were in and out of our office all day, asking him happy happy questions about his data.
And you know what? I'm stone-cold jealous. I sat there in our shared office, feeling sullen, cranky, left out - basically, like a petulant little kid ("Why does everybody think he's so smart? I'm smart too. I could have done just as well on his project." [pouts lip, stares at ground, stuffs hands in pockets]). Ever diplomatic, I obviously told him that he gave a great presentation and that the data is great and that his hard work is great and that it's all just great, great, great. (Can you hear my teeth grinding from out there?)
I am seriously disappointed in myself for feeling like this. There isn't a finite amount of accolade to go around - his success on an unrelated project has absolutely no impact on my ability to succeed at my job. So WTF is wrong with me here? How do I force a match between what I objectively know I should be feeling (Go Team!) with the actual feelings my jealous, spiteful little brain is feeling?
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I think you should spin it into motivation to knock your own project out of the park. Although, we all know that science is probably 90% luck and 10% effort for most of those big earth shattering results.
I don't think you are petty and mean-spirited, I think you are human. And maybe a tad competitive? I know I get like this occcasionally (ok, ok more than occasionally) and it is usually when I am feeling a tad too competitive in the lab-even when there is nothing to be competitive about. And hearing about it all day doesn't help any either. It happens to the best and worst of us.
I agree with Zeek. It's only human to be somewhat jealous. But Brian's right. Use it as fuel instead of wallowing in self-pity because you are mad at yourself. Kick some serious project ass!
This is normal DGT. Don't be so hard on yourself. Don't try to force yourself to feel differently or feel something you don't. Allow yourself the feelings and then let it go.
In industry labs (that I've been in), this type of competition in a team doesn't happen. I have to say, it's nice. Part of it is that we all work together so much that the idea that might have worked often came from someone else.
I think your experience brings up a good point about mentorship in academics. Do you think that when someone in a group gets heaped on with a lot of praise, that the PI should make sure the others on their team are not feeling dejected? Maybe the PI should give the others a boost? Or is this process of being on a roller coaster of emotions just part of the culture?
I get jealous all the time when someone does better than I do...But it makes me work harder and re-evaluate my project and its direction and whether I am doing the smartest science to meet my goals!
As the others have said, jealousy is normal. Especially if you are competitive or haven't had some praise for your work thrown your way recently. I tend to go bitch to some friends outside the situation and then use it as motivation to kick butt in lab and get some of that recognition for myself. Cuz I like the spotlight (in lab).
(ideolectically) 'Jealousy' is wanting something somebody else has, and wanting to have it so they cannot!
'envy' is wanting what somebody else has, so you can have it TOO!
The former *can* lead to meanspirited behavior, but if you act nicely it's not a problem. The later is GOOD sometimes, as a source of motivation. Both are quite normal in certain situations. Now, if anyone can figure out how to deal with *chronic* envy and accompanying imposter syndrome, I think science would be much more of a carebear tea party (CURSE those tea baggers, forever ruining my conception of 'tea party'!!!11)
I agree with all the other posts here. You're entirely human and normal to be envious of your lab mates success. You should see it as a good thing that you are able to swallow those emotions and congratulate the guy and that you're frustrated with yourself for feeling this way about him and his success. Don't lose any sleep over it, you're time will come and as everyone else has said use it as a positive motivational tool to get you focused on your project again. At least now you have something to strive for, you know that when you get good data you're going to get such good feedback from others in your lab, not all labs are like that, feel lucky!
Have a pocket full of sunshine!
And the other pocket is full of envy!
You will get your moment too. It is only natural to be jealous it is a big motivational tool used by scientists around the world!
I suspect, DGT, that this is not your MO, but for the sake of discussion, I'm going to bring it up. Scientific envy is normal and can be motivational, as others have said... but you have to be careful that it doesn't turn you into a frienemy. You know the type--the colleague who smiles and says "Oh, good job", then tells people behind your back that "It's not that great"; or the labbie, who you consider a friend, making a catty comment about "who even cares" about your project; or the one that cuts all contact and doesn't respond to multiple messages even though hir Facebook status would indicate that s/he's alive and well. Science is hard... and a small, small world. Envy might be normal, but if you hold onto it, it turns into something ugly that can alienate you from your peers. And one day, you might just need those people.
Biochem Belle has a great point! The scientific community is sooo small! everyone knows everyone else worth knowing and you dont want a bad reputation to precede you. You can miss out on some awesome collaborations!
Yeah, that is a good point. You don't want to become bitter and twisted, I hadn't thought about that. Though as long as you manage to keep it internal and put it to positive use, then it shouldn't be an issue.
Like I mentioned, I'm not normally like this. In hindsight I can see that other things happening that day had an additive effect on my unwillingness to be happy for other people's success. I'm over it - like OK GO says, let it go - this too shall pass.