1. Try homebrewing
Immerse yourself in a popular hobby. As you try to figure out how to store industrial cookware and pounds of grain in your studio apartment, you can think about how great your friend Lucy has been doing. Did you hear that her band’s new album was briefly mentioned on All Songs Considered? Wow! She’s a great friend and you’re excited to support her. Meanwhile, continue tinkering around with malt, desperately trying to produce something drinkable, even though there are already so many great beers out there. But who knows, maybe you’ll find success one day too!
2. Start a rigorous running program even though you’ve never exercised
Running is a great way to get energized. Plus, the endorphins will help, since you’ve been feeling insecure. Lucy is at some hip warehouse party in an up-and-coming neighborhood. She wanted to invite you, but you’re not on the guest list. So you’re out running alone, getting a hamstring cramp in front of Taco Bell while teenagers drive by yelling insults. You’re glad Lucy is having fun, but now that she’s kind of successful, maybe all that’s left for you are the scraps. Keep running.
3. Experiment with dangerous foods
Shake up your routine by trying edgy restaurants, like that place that serves pufferfish. Did you see that Lucy was just interviewed by a local zine, and she had so many compelling things to say about underground art? Ugh, that’s the kind of thing you imagined your future self doing back when you were 14 and had a passion for music. Then, over the years, you couldn’t commit to practicing an instrument, and as you got older and weighed down by responsibilities you became afraid of putting yourself out there. But why the hell didn’t Lucy ask you to be the bass player — doesn’t she know you took classes for three weeks back in junior high? It’s fine, just eat the fish and see if you die. If you die, maybe Lucy will write a song about you, which is the only way you’ll ever achieve moderate success.
4. Instantly resolve years of inner turmoil by just calming down
Try meditation. You’ve been suffering from debilitating insecurity for decades, but you should try turning it all around by simply not thinking about your problems. Lucy just sent you a picture from the cool photo shoot her band did, and they’re all posing casually around a pile of bricks at the dump. Who the fuck does she think she is? But it’s fine. You’re right where you’re supposed to be — you have an OK job, and even health insurance! So continue to take absolutely no risks, just keep getting on that hamster wheel every day, working on stupid spreadsheets in your goddamn cubicle. Put that in your fucking mantra.
5. Join the other washed up crones at the local book club
Reading is a good way to sharpen your mind, and a book club is bound to have a few other tortured artists who never got off the ground. Uh-oh: Lucy just posted her band’s new music video. She looks so hip, howling about the pitfalls of capitalism while her bandmates throw glitter as a metaphor for something. Jesus. At this rate, she’ll have a drink named after her at the local kombucha brewery in no time. Lucy is DEFINITELY doing all this just to spite you; she acts nice to your face but inside she’s laughing her ass off. Lucy knew that these were YOUR dreams, and she stole them from you because you’re fucking WEAK. Bring a snack to the first book club meeting to make a great first impression. But don’t bring deviled eggs because those are Lucy’s favorite. She won’t be there, but you can’t take the risk of creating anything that would potentially release positive vibes into the universe for that bitch.
6. Sequester yourself in your own personal hell
Reaching out to friends and family can be helpful, but to protect yourself you shouldn’t have contact with anyone who’s even a little bit more successful than you. And that’s Lucy, plus everyone else you know! It’s time to really isolate yourself and brood over every small thing you could have done differently to avoid getting to this point. You’re not imagining it: Everyone IS judging you, no one else has any problems at all, and success is totally a zero-sum game. You could channel this whole experience into some really great art, if only you had the courage to get off your fear-ridden loser ass and just fucking do it!