Is this Narcissistic? A question I ask myself every time I publish a blog post. Every time I throw my thoughts and feelings out into the world for others to read and occasionally comment on. At the rate of one post per week for the past while, I have had plenty of time to mull this over and have come to the following conclusion: Damn right it is!
The simplest definition that I found for narcissism is: having an excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance. Although narcissistic personality disorder is much worse and affects only about 1% of the general population, most people have some narcissistic traits. So let’s get real here. We are all interested in ourselves. Call it narcissistic. Call it vanity. Call it egotistic. Call it pride. Call it survival instinct. The thing is, I have not met a single person who does not possess at least one of these traits.
People love to talk about themselves. We love to tell stories of our daily lives. We are the experts on the topic of ourselves. Just check social media feeds, which reward everyone for sharing with thumbs-up likes and red-heart loves. They are addicting. The reason why we all keep posting. Even if a person doesn’t actually write anything personal, the things they choose to share are a reflection of their opinions and beliefs. You can be sure that they feel warm and fuzzy when they receive those likes and loves. Social media is making us more narcissistic, considered a downside, one of the drawbacks of this pass time. This and all the fake news. There is also an upside. Social media allows us to keep in touch with each other and the world in a way that we have never been able to do before. For some people, and in particular some seniors, social media can provide a sense of belonging, a way to interact and to receive some much-needed attention from love ones or like-minded peers. It can be a depression fighter. A lifesaver. Everyone wants and needs a little attention.
You can’t discuss narcissistic traits without talking about vanity. The two are inherently linked. Some people are more vain than others. Women are often considered more vain than men. The average woman does take more care dressing than most men. We prefer to hide our imperfections with big scarves and concealer. We like to be admired. But again, to be realistic, a majority of people will glance at their reflection in a mirror when they walk by one. Most of us are glad that they do. Imagine if everyone left the house in the morning without doing that once-over in the mirror. We might all look like we just rolled out of bed and picked our wardrobe from the dirty clothes hamper. Bad hair. Sweat-stained shirts. Orange-juice moustaches. Toothpaste drips on pant legs. You get the picture.
And then there’s ego. Haven’t we all met that one person who is so egotistic and arrogant that we want to puke? Luckily most people don’t provoke that response. In my opinion, egotism in men is what vanity is in women. Men tend to brag more than women. They tend to showoff more than women. Not all men are egotistical. The Doc certainly isn’t. And I’m not saying that only men are egotistical or that only women are vane; but in my life-long survey of people of my general age and demographic, I have observed that the majorities fall into those categories. Of course, now days with gender being less fixed than in the past, this is beginning to change.
It’s not a stretch to tie confidence to vanity and ego. Everyone has different levels of all of these traits. Everyone requires some level of confidence, no matter where it comes from, to accomplish just about anything short of eating and going to the bathroom. Yet somewhere there is a subjective line between confident and over confident that moves this trait into the realm of vanity and ego. Less confident people tend to place this line at a lower level when judging others than more confident people. Like I said, it’s subjective, VERY SUBJECTIVE.
Whether or not we care to admit it, most of us, when we reach a certain age, are confident that our opinions and our methods of doing things are better than those of many others. That’s why we keep thinking and doing those things the way we do. It could be something as simple as how one roasts a chicken or cares for their lawn. It could involve complex engineering tasks or artistic skills. There is nothing wrong with this. Call it learning. We become more confident in the skills and ideas we have acquired over time.
Why not be proud of our accomplishments? Those things that we have had the confidence to complete no matter how long it took and what obstacles, if any, hindered our tasks. For some people it takes years to get to that point. And what would be the point, if they couldn’t share these accomplishments? Where would we be? There would be no art. No literature. No music. The world would be a desolate place without these things. It would not be a world that I would want to live in.
So yes, this is narcissistic. I would have preferred to have more comedic traits, but comedy is not in my gene pool. Turns out that I have “small-n” narcissistic traits, just like everyone else. I have an ego, more than some women but less than most men. I’m a bit vain, less so than a lot of woman (I can’t do big scarves) but more than most men. I have accomplished enough things over the years that I am proud of, thanks to achieving a level of confidence that is greater than a lot women my age but still less than most men and certainly less than the level I would like to have.
A lot of women my age think I am being very narcissistic for writing this blog. For expressing my opinions or talking about myself like I do. My demographic is a generation of women who have spent their lives sucking it up. Who have been brought up to believe that talking about themselves in this way is self-centered and wrong. In actuality, all woman should be putting their stories out there. Other women need to hear these things from real people not just magazine articles. They need to know that they are not the only ones going through a particular life experience. Women need to talk about things like chauvinistic bosses, bad doctors, depression, periods and hormones. The struggles of being a working mom. What they, as women, have given up over the years. Plus so much more. Why are we afraid to discuss them? We should be sharing our experiences not hiding them. Younger generations need to know the road traveled. The cost of the journey. What things require improvement. Why they can’t become complacent.
The one “small-n” trait that keeps me going above all others is self preservation. Survival to be more specific. When it comes to self interest, this blog is something I do for me. It is my sanity project. A place where I can express myself on a regular basis because I need to let things go, and I crave a creative outlet. It is like therapy. You, my friends, are like therapists. You listen, or in this case read. I have a great appreciation for each and every one of you and the time you spend with me. Because of you I am in a better place than I was last year this time. Thank you for being here.