Perfection: Why Narcissists don’t realize they have a problem

Everyone doubts himself at some point or other. No one thinks he’s perfect or that he’s right all the time. It is a fact of life – we are uncertain, we are confused, we are not sure. Maybe we cannot see the situation clearly, maybe we are shy in certain contexts, or maybe we just haven’t found our real priorities yet.

It is however, astounding to see how many people transform these doubts and confusion into envy towards others. How many shift the onus from trying to improve themselves or their situation, into trying to make trouble for, or compete with, others instead. It is one thing to have low self-esteem and own it, quiet another to project your self-hatred and your disillusionment with yourself, onto someone else.

Hating someone else is far easier than hating one’s self. And some find it much easier to shift facts in their favor, in order to be able to look at the mirror without gagging.

Of course, it doesn’t help that most self-deluding narcissists, scientifically also tend to be very good manipulators and have a talent for convincing and influencing weaker individuals. After so much effort and practice convincing themselves that reality is conveniently different from actual facts, how could they not be?

The pimple-faced looser with fake hair color and caked make-up enviously copying other people, the middle aged patronizing know-it-all trying to compensate for his low self-esteem, the entitled unemployed mom spamming social media with photos of yoga-class, the nasty bitch without friends dressing herself up only to take a couple of selfies, then taking off her frills again, the forever alone guy who finally has a girlfriend, yet spends more time bragging about it, rather than getting to know her.

Any of these sound familiar? There are so many of them. All trying to hide their weaknesses, trying to appear different from who they really are in a hypocritical show of strength. The only thing which is crystal clear however, is that they are weak. Scared. Alone. Since, instead of being able to face themselves – their fears, their weaknesses, and the need to communicate, they end up hiding themselves under layers of deceit, rather than admitting that they are not perfect.

And how can anyone improve and grow as a person, if they think there is no room for improvement? If they think they are already perfect?

As the wise man said: ‘I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.’ (Socrates)

On a personal note – I’ve (unfortunately) known many such people in my life. It is futile to try to change them, or kid yourself that they are worthwhile being with. Keep away from emotional vampires, or those who need to feel that they are competing with you in order to convince themselves they are worth something, rather than be your actual friends. Don’t let others project their own faults on you.

The only thing to do with narcissists, is to keep them well out of your orbit.

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The Scent of Desperation

It’s funny how people tend to change their tune, depending on what they think will portray them in the best possible light. In the Maltese language, there is the very expressive word ‘pinnur’. On the surface, this word translates as ‘wind-vane’, however what it actually represents when one takes it into specific contexts, is this kind of behavior – when an individual first says one thing, but then when circumstances change, acts as though his past behavior never happened, and takes the exact opposite stance.

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Without delving into the obvious example of politics, let me take another one.

I’ve never actually understood why many people think that being single is something shameful, as though the single person has something lacking just because s/he has not found a partner s/he likes yet. Unfortunately however, this mentality has pervaded our society so much, that people with low self-esteem tend to believe it hook, line and sinker, which is why many tend to fall into depression after long periods of singleness.

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These low self-esteem singletons generally try to cope with this socially induced stigma by using a number of self-convincing ideas, for example maintaining that ‘being single is much better than being in a relationship’, or (in the case of women) saying that ‘men lie anyways, so why bother’, or (in the case of men) saying that ‘most women just want your money’. There are many who take the stance of ‘why would I want to live my life having to coordinate everything with another person and find a middle ground when, being single, I can do whatever the heck I want?’ Thing is some people are HONESTLY happy being single, others however, say such things as some sort of sop to try to convince themselves of their happiness in view of their enroaching desperation. If you are not happy, why not just say so and try to find a way to improve your life, yourself, or your attitude? Why hide it as though it was something to be ashamed of?

So, how does one tell the difference between people who are honestly happy being single and those who are just trying to lie to themselves? Here is where the ‘pinnur’ ideology comes into play. Just take a look at what happens to the ‘desperados’ when they actually DO manage to find a partner. Suddenly, there are photos of them strangling their partner in a ‘you wont escape’ hold all over social media. We are told again and again of how happy they are now that they have found ‘true love’. We are barraged by memes of how beautiful it is to be in a relationship. 

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Gone are the OTHER memes saying ‘single is best’. Gone is the argument that it is better not to have to compromise, or that being single means you don’t get dragged by your boyfriend and his friends to watch footy games even though you hate it (someone told this to me once, then she got a boyfriend and started suddenly ‘loving’ football). Suddenly the proud ‘I’ becomes a gushingly repeated ‘we’, as the individual tries to find every possible excuse to show the world that he or she now has a PARTNER and is no longer the loser s/he was before.

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Of course, probably no one thought they were a loser because they were single, except, obviously, themselves.

So, this is the definition of ‘pinnur’. Of course, there are different levels of desperation, usually depending on the individual’s age (older people, especially women, start getting depressed when they realize they are approaching non-child-bearing age and are still far from getting married), income (especially if people need another person’s wage to purchase/rent a home and leave the nest), etc. Many people, at least many of those I’ve encountered, also seem to have a ‘life-plan’ which includes getting married by the age of 30 and having at least 2 children by the age of 35. So, obviously arriving at the age of 28 without having a stable relationship starts ringing emergency bells, since one would then have to grab the first person remotely viable and rush him or her into marriage before the ‘deadline’, in order to complete said plan.

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Having known so many people with this mind-set, from work colleagues, to family members, acquaintances and even neighbors, I wonder. Are the ‘life-plan’ and ‘pinnur’ kind of behavior more prevalent in the Mediterranean or Maltese mind-set, or are they just prevalent in those individuals with low self-esteem and a mulish way of following society’s norms, irrelevantly of their country? Either way, it’s sad that society ends up influencing weaker willed people in this manner. Then again, it’s nothing new is it?

Growing Up

What is fate? If you spend years of your life trying to avoid something, only to have it thrust at you randomly at a turning in the road, does that mean that it was destined in your ‘stars’, or does it simply mean that you suffer from bad luck? Should you struggle, tearing yourself apart in order to escape at all costs, or should you cease swimming against the current, and simply accept it? Would that be defeated resignation, or merely another way of growing up?

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Generally we can control most things about our life – our achievements, our relationships, our careers, yet when it comes to certain things like health, colleagues, coincidental disasters, of just bad luck, there is actually nothing we can do. We can react yes, but as far as running away from those things we cannot change, this is simply not possible. I guess that is what growing up means. We have to simply buck up, and face those challenges which life throws at us, even though all we might feel like doing is just turning away and go grab a drink.

Perhaps it is actually these challenges which forge our character, aiding us to evolve into more capable individuals, able not only to pull through when under pressure, but to actually appreciate the things we have, and the people around us, all the more.

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After all, how can you ever become a better version of yourself, if your life is always easy? How can you learn to manage and survive using your own abilities, if you always find everything ready on a silver platter? How can you trust yourself to be able to overcome ever tougher decisions and issues next time they come up (because at some point, they will), if you don’t already know you can be a survivor, without needing anyone’s help or using anyone as a crutch to lean on?

People may get older, but not all of them grow up. Some remain selfish little children forever, sulking, having tantrums, and playing copycat instead of learning how to simply be themselves, without any need for social approval or metaphorical pattings on the back. After all, in the game of life, it is only we who can decide whether we have won or lost and no one else. We are our own spectators, and the only approval which matters, is ours.

 

I am not a COOL GIRL

“Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.” – Gillian Flynn

This is one of my favourite passages from ‘Gone Girl’ and one of the most revealing ones. Here again, is a case where those who have watched the movie but not read the book, will not understand at all. In the movie, we view the main character as a social psychopath because she goes ‘too far’ when exacting vengeance on her cheating husband, without knowing WHY. The novel explains it all. Especially to those girls, who like me, were never, never will be, and DO NOT WANT TO BE COOL.

In ‘Gone Girl’ Amy, from the very first date, tries to be the ‘cool girl’ – that kind of laid-back, hot-without-effort girl every guy wants to date. A poster child. A myth. She represses her feelings, represses herself every time there is something her husband does which she does not like or approve of, is always positive, even when she feels a mess, keeps her insecurities and internal turmoil locked away, and in reality tries to change and twist her character in order to please her partner. The problem is that she not only ends up unhappy and depressed, but that her partner doesn’t even ever know who she really is.

Well, I am not ‘cool girl’. Most definitely not. If you do something I don’t like, I will tell you. If I am pissed, I will tell you. I am weird, I am an introvert, I prefer books to most humans, and I am proud of that too. I am quirky and have strange habits you will never understand (though I appreciate you remembering them and making an effort to try). I am opinionated, loud, sulky, suffer from mood-swings. Sometimes I may go days without really wanting to talk about an issue, then out it will come in one big bang. Other times, I will chew off your ear for not using correct grammar, forget I have already told you something a thousand times, go on and on about the book I’m reading, give an impromptu lesson about some unpopular historical period, or just jump and hug you at inappropriate moments.

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No, I am not cool – but here’s the thing – I am honest. I am true. And I am yours and yours only. What you see is what you get. I am scuffled, scarred, marked. I have been broken, and patched myself back togather more than once. I have been hurt, and sometimes it shows. This is what makes my love and feelings even stronger – no I could not love just anyone. I find it very hard to trust and show someone what I am really like, especially when I’m at my most vulnerable. But I have no problem with appearing weak, naked, pale and limp with you. You are the one who sees me at my best, holds me at my worst, and enjoys all the time in between.

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No, I will never be cool. I do not even want to be cool. I am myself, that is who you love, and that is the reality. I do not put on masks with you, though I might when out ‘in real life’, especially since I do not condone or agree with most of the stupid populace out there. I am an intellectual elitist who realized early on in life that she cannot stomach most people, since most people are obtuse and stupid, and that is fine. I am someone who likes debate, is loud when talking about things close to her heart, passionate, hard-headed, yet open-minded and tolerant.

You know me. The real me. No – no ‘cool girl’ trying to be what others desire her to be here. Just me, holding your hand and kissing your shoulder while you sleep, knowing that you won’t even feel me, but doing it anyway, because I cannot be near you and not kiss you. Just me, playing with your curls and loving your clean smell right after you shower. Just me, getting lost in thoughts and dreams, jotting them down at 4am and then loosing the paper. Just me, re-arranging smarties by colour and drawing matching tattoos on napkins. Just me, putting my little treasures somewhere ‘for safe-keeping’ and then forgetting everything about them, and ‘re-discovering’ them months later. Just me, talking to cats in the street, and arguing with the T.V. Just me, re-arranging my socks, singing to anime songs, tipsy on Sangria waiting for you to come home.

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I do not know what brought this on, especially since I was so angry all of last night and this morning. Don’t ask why. Believe me, you don’t wanna know ;p