OK, I admit it. I am a worrier and I don’t always sleep well. During my worst nights, I toss and turn reliving painful moments which embarrass me or worry that something I have said or done might have hurt another person. It doesn’t help too that in the morning after, the mirror feeds my insecurities – the wrinkles, the odd grey hair and that spot which miraculously appears when I need it least. Plus, the burning questions, “why can’t everyone age as well as George Clooney?” and “How much effort will it take me to be selfie ready?”
It is on these mornings in particular, that I would quite like to be a narcissist. To sleep soundly in my bed without worry, to look at the mirror in the morning and see that expected handsome face and then share those god-like qualities in the best possible selfies for all my thousands of followers on Facebook.
One person, two realities and the only thing which would be different would be the model of my reality in my head. Yes, I would quite like to be a narcissist and this is why..
I would feel self-important
My qualifications are OK and certainly good enough for the work I do, but wouldn’t my CV look better if that four day course I went on in a famous English university town became “studied at Cambridge” ? Narcissists you see, feel they have a right to be seen as superior without necessarily having the qualifications to match, and a little exaggeration never hurt anyone did it ? The English former politician and novelist Lord Jeffery Archer claimed to hold an undergraduate degree from Oxford which in reality, was a diploma. The truth too, never got in the way for Frank Abagnale Jr who posed successfully as an airline pilot, lawyer and doctor without the necessary qualifications. Now where did I put that Pulitzer prizewinning web article…
I want to feel special or entitled
We are all special to our parents but I want to be special to everyone and I want to demonstrate this by how I park my car. When I go to the supermarket I carefully park my car in the right zone. I don’t have children or a disability so I never occupy those car parking spaces close to the doors. So I park where I am supposed to, but as I do so and walk across the entire width of the car park in the rain, I invariably spy some guy in a Lexus or that ridiculous of cars, a Range Rover Evoque, slamming into the space nearest the door and lithely nipping into the store without child or any physical impairment to stop him. These too are the same people who park on pavements forcing people with buggies into the road because rules of the pavement and parking restrictions don’t apply to them, obviously!
I need to be admired for the beauty I am
Everyone must agree that wholefood muesli tastes of nothing and has the consistency of small-piece gravel. Similarly, a hot and steamy workout at the gym takes time away from the things I enjoy most: writing this web page (obviously?) socialising with friends, and binge-watching the latest box-sets. Vladimir Putin is famous for stripping off to the waist and showing off his aptitude in a range of physical challenges. This is too much effort for me. I am afraid the only work out my body will get is through the means of photoshop…
I want to take advantage of others to get what I want
The psychologist Stanley Milgram did a famous experiment where he convinced his participants to deliver electric shocks to people, or at least think they did. One explanation of why this worked was that he got “gradual commitment” from the people. His first request was reasonable, but became increasingly unreasonable incrementally. In real-life asking a favour and then extending it has been shown to work……So who can I get to write some guest articles for my web page……..
I don’t want to feel other’s pain.
History is littered with famous people who lacked empathy. Too little empathy and there is a danger that a person may be a sociopath, too much and a person becomes frozen and can’t act. For me, the tension in this duality was represented in an old episode of Star Trek the original series. In the episode “The Enemy Within” Kirk is transported on to the ship during a storm and unknown to the crew is split into two halves. One, the sociopathic Kirk, is quickly spotted as he attempts to sexually assault a crew member and locked up in the brig. The other, whilst retaining command, lacked the ability to take decisions because people may be killed and he can’t switch off his pain, leaving him frozen. Normality is restored when the two halves are re-joined. The moral of the tale is that too much or too little empathy is bad for you. So, perhaps although I want to have a little less empathy, so that I worry about others less, I need some.
I want to quit listening to others and tell my story instead
I should really be English I am so polite and am completely unable to say “no”. There are whole years of my life and a least a tree-worth of tissues I will never get back. Girlfriends (friends not lovers) are the worst, coming around for coffee and pouring their heart out about what a b*****d their partner has been only to be all loved up the following week with the same guy or gal. Just for once I want to be able to say “Shut up you’re boring me now and I want to tell you about how life is for me”. Instead I just sit and listen offering coffee and endless boxes of tissues, one must never forget the tissues.
I know metaphorically speaking that you can eat an elephant by cutting a task up into small chunks but I don’t think, (to continue the extended animal metaphor ) a leopard can change his spots. So whilst I may be confident I am as devilishly handsome as Clooney, I know I will still have disturbed sleep and have to walk across store car parks in the rain to buy tissues.