You'd think (that means, "I'd think,") that the older I got the more contented I would be with my particular skill set. And in some ways I am; at least, in the sense that I no longer think that I will acquire startlingly unlikely abilities. I know now that I won't ever be good at math. I know that I CAN learn how to operate new technology and to understand mutual funds, but I no longer believe that I WILL. My eyes will glaze over when I'm listening to the explanation, and my brain will pick something more interesting to think about, like when my next royalty check might arrive or how many more words it's going to take to finish my current project.
Yet I can't help envying people who can do things I'll never be able to do. I love Donna's facility with titles. I love Toni's quick brain, and her puns, and her incisive editing skills. I love Dana's linear thinking, and all the stuff she's got crammed in her brain. I know these Femmes best out of our group because we see each other so frequently at conferences -- but every time I get together with any of the Femmes, I realize I have a lot of shortcomings.
I have the same reaction when I read other peoples' work. When I read Lee Child, I wonder at his complete mastery of his character and his character's background. When I read Laurell K. Hamilton, I marvel at her ceaselessly inventive mind and the richness of her world. I'm awestruck at the diversity of writers like Barbara Hambly and Connie Willis. Is there anything they can't write? I don't think so. And how did Sarah Monette learn to write about her world with such richness? It's like eating cheesecake.
Maybe envy isn't as bad as it's cracked up to be. Of course, "envy" is a word with a lot of negative connotations, but it's certainly easier than saying, "The awareness of my own shortcomings and the realization that other people can do lots of things better than I can." That awareness can certainly be a powerful goad to work harder, go further, try to explore every unexamined corner.
Maybe a little envy is a good thing.