An interesting article on the subject of peer envy has been published today in the Daily Mail, from a college cohort of Coldplay's, way back when at University College London:
The Coldplay concert is what pushed me over the edge - standing in the middle of a 70,000-strong crowd who were all singing Yellow while giant sun-coloured balloons bounced on their heads. It was at that point I had something of a life crisis. If there's one thing that annoys me about Coldplay, it's not their dodgy lyrics, their maddening worthiness, or their homemade clothes - it's their success.
Their bona fide hanging out with world leaders and marrying Hollywood starlets success. You see, it could have been me. Well, not the whole musical genius, rock god stuff, but the high-achieving, general greatness. For once upon a time Coldplay and I were at college together. We started our adult lives knowing the same people, hanging out in the same grim Camden pubs and stalking the same library corridors...
We were never friends, but we had friends in common and I have half a memory of Chris Martin fancying my flatmate. We were the same. Fast-forward 13 years, however, and things couldn't be more different. Chris is in one of the biggest bands in the world, married to Gwyny and building mansions, while I'm, well, more overdrawn than I was as a student and looking for yet another flatshare at the age of 32.
As for my movie-star lover, well, he's been awfully slow to turn up. I know I should be pleased for Coldplay, they were and still seem to be such nice guys, but the truth is their success has put my own achievements - or lack of - into sharp focus.
It's hard to kid yourself that you're doing well when your peer's success slaps you in the face every time you pick up a newspaper or switch on the TV. But at least I'm not alone. Peer envy has become so rife in today's 'Anything's possible' society that it's even got a name: Failed Potential Syndrome. This syndrome gets more acute with age, can be disastrous for your mental health and is everywhere. It's that feeling that somehow life has not quite blossomed for you in the way you thought it would, while your peers (usually the seemingly unambitious ones) soar to great heights.
New pictures of Chris Martin at the 2009 Bridge School Benefit in Mountain View, CA (25th October 2009):
Pictures by Caroline_Was_Here