The success of my peers makes me feel like a failure

While we can all relish the successes of our peers, sometimes these signs of success leave me feeling like a failure.

I see John Strapline, copywriter extraordinaire, getting a hundred retweets for his latest blog tweet.

I remember that my last effort garnered just one little red heart.

I see Sarah McCopywriter begging for someone to unburden her from the overload of clients that she has.

I remember that I’ve got no work planned for next week.

And here comes Debbie Buzzword, babbling about her latest big client win.

I worry that my career is in a death-spiral.

And oh look, here’s Eric Familiarname, shouting about his new brand, his new book and his new car.

I’m delighted for them all.


But sometimes I look at Twitter and I see a barrage of success stories and status signifiers and it leaves me feeling like a failure.

“What am I doing wrong?” I wonder.

Sometimes I ride this train of thought until I reach the conclusion that I’m not very good at copywriting, and that everyone else is better at copywriting – and freelancing – than I am.

Perhaps it’s the solo nature of freelancing – or just a symptom of my delicate constitution – but an innocuous tweet can be enough to leave me feeling miserable.

This was often the case, until I stopped and realised just how damaging these thoughts were. I was getting blown off course by a sense that I was never doing enough, and never successful enough. So I resolved to seek a solution.

Here are some of the strategies that help me avoid feelings of failure, and help me to feel positive about my peers’ successes.

Enjoy others’ success – and learn from it

While jealousy can make it tricky to feel positive about someone’s good fortune, it’s important to remember that your peer (probably) deserves their success. After acknowledging their success, what can you learn from it? Are there lessons to learn about their strategies for achieving their goals?

Remember that all is not as it seems

The success stories that people share on Twitter are the edited highlights of messy lives. We share the ten minutes of triumph that we can pick out, like flowers from a field of manure, and put on display. Before you think badly of someone for their boasts, just remember that those tweets might be the flotation device that they cling to during their own personal storms.

It’s impossible to compare your own life to the snapshots you see online. Because while they may seem similar and familiar, the digital version is missing all the shitty bits that you are all too conscious of in your own life.

So never compare.

Tune out the worst offenders

Does someone’s incessant celebrations make you feel like the you weren’t invited to the party?

Consider tuning them out. Unfollow. Unfriend. Mute.

Prune your social media feeds so that they’re more balanced – giving you a more accurate sense of real life and copywriters like you.

Spend less time observing success – and more time creating it

I realised that I was getting depressed because I felt like wasn’t achieving enough. Then it hit me that I was wasting too much time scanning social media. Instead of creating my own success, I was busy observing the successes of my peers.

I have a new rule: whenever I get the sense that everyone else is busier – and more successful – than I am, I resolve to spend less time on social media, and more time working on my own marketing and my own projects.

I remind myself that the successes I see where not created on Twitter or Facebook.

Success is enjoyed by people who turned off social media and made things happen.

They only tweeted or shared once they had something to show.

Give yourself time to catch up

It took me far too long to realise this, but most of the copywriters that were making me feel like a failure are more experienced. They’ve had more time to develop their business, their identity and their brand.

But it’s easy to forget that. It’s easy to put yourself on the same level as other copywriters, and then wonder why you’re not doing as well.

So go easy on yourself. Give yourself a break.

Enjoy the successes of your peers, because they deserve those hard-fought moments of glory.

And redouble your own efforts to succeed, because that’s the only way to get ahead.

Turn off Twitter for a while and see where you get to.


11th October 2016

Charlotte Fleming

True, all of it!

And I love the way the article finishes with “turn off social media” and the next thing the reader sees are the – yup – social media buttons… 😉

11th October 2016

Nigel Woollsey

This strikes such a chord with me! Secret Copywriter, I think I love you…
My new social media mantra is: Unfriend. Unfollow. Mute. 🙂

17th October 2016

Andy Nattan

In the interests of helping you, I’ve published some of my freelancing failures here:

That’s just the pick of the bunch. I make substantial mistakes every day.

18th October 2016

Sarah Townsend

Love it! Love Andy Nattan’s post too… *fistbump* We all have the same insecurities deep down.

I wrote about the fear of failure myself last month…

19th October 2016

Honor Clement-Hayes

You do you. We’re all terrified charlatans when we take our horn-rimmed copywriter specs off. x

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