Second Life most often holds a mirror up to any “life”. This time it held up a mirror toward the need to be gracious, pleased for others’ good fortune, and free of selfishness. I found that in SL it is more obvious when people are unhappy at others’ fortunes. In RL this type of jealousy is less overt (probably due to proper embarrassment of it).
A couple of years ago I was thrust into the modeling world through my photography. My intention was only for my photos to be chosen, not me. When to my surprise I had to walk a runway, I knew I was lacking in skills, but I persevered and kept trying to improve and asked many questions of gentle and helpful friends.
In general, I didn’t do either well or badly. Most of the time (not all the time) I placed in the top 3 or moved on to the next level. What more can someone ask for? Still, does anyone escape the thought: “Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to win just once!”? So in my heart was lodged this previously foreign thought.
I entered Vero Modero’s Miss Mutya contest. Amongst amazing people, I managed to find myself in the finals. The lovely Bouquet Babii provided the clothing we were to wear every step of the way which made things so much easier. I can’t imagine the anxiety in having to choose outfits from all the available clothiers out there and how invested one becomes! The gorgeous Lua Vendetta took away the Miss Mutya title … and something horrible happened to me which today fills me with shame. I was jealous. I was jealous of someone who had done her best and it showed. I asked friends what I did wrong and to give me advice on how I could win next time. “Was it possible the contest was rigged?” I asked (we’ve heard those words go around at nearly every contest). Who did I become? It’s painful to write it still, and I feel shame for it.
In the midst of the Miss Mutya contest, I had also entered Vivienne Darcy’s Seasons of Beauty contest. There were four contests, one for each season, and two winners from those went on to compete for the 2013 Miss Seasons of Beauty title. The judges thought I made a good runner-up at the Miss Autumn competition and moved me to the finals. Enough time had passed from my earlier (shameful) thoughts about the Miss Mutya contest that I participated in the final Miss Seasons of Beauty thinking it would be fine if I did not win and was happy to have gotten this far, but would certainly be happier if for once in my life I would win the title too. Vivi provided the lovely clothes throughout also. I planned to be very happy for the winner.
In the end, amongst all the beautiful contestants, I managed to win the final title. It was a surprise, but I really had tried to do my very best. (It must be said here that I was not and still am not friends with any of the judges). Oh, I was so thrilled! And my Nev was there to see it (he is hardly on SL and this was his first time seeing a contest). I was floating on air and probably twirled around joyfully in RL (or maybe I imagined doing so).
And here is the mirror that was held up. Not but a few days later the kind Vivienne Darcy announced that she would no longer hold contests as the feelings of some contestants had gotten too hurt. Not winning contests does hurt. It really does. No matter what we say to ourselves, it does. I remembered my own feelings at not winning and I could not fault the other ladies for their own feelings. But I felt something else too this time. The joy and lightness suddenly became heavy, tainted, and stolen away.
I will probably land myself in contests again through submitting photographs (at least, I hope I can remain sharp in that area of my SL life). These promises I make: I will be truly happy for the winner. I will share in his or her joy because someone saw something in them and they worked hard to be there. I will not allow negative feelings to interfere with their celebration. I will be respectful of the decisions made by judges who also donated time and effort.
To this day, I do not know who made Vivienne so concerned that she chose to no longer hold the contest. Something was taken from Vivi as well. She had had joy in putting it all together. I wouldn’t dare judge someone else for having those dark and hurt feelings. I truly deeply don’t. This post is to encourage each us to be joyful for one another when someone finds success. To use a ‘loss’ as a reason to improve. In retrospect, I should have never won the Miss Mutya contest (my styling was not as good as I thought). We cannot win every single contest, but we can be happy for one another every single time. When it is our turn to win, maybe those others we cheered on won’t feel obliged to steal our joy away from us, but happily cheer for us until it is their turn to be cheered for once again.
I want to live all my lives this way. It is simpler, easier, lighter on the soul.