Yesterday there was a story about me, my RV, and my friends on the front page of the SF Chronicle site. The article was really nicely written and very positive about the whole RV thing. Hundreds of comments were left on the post, and 95% of them were negative. The negativity was absolutely astounding. I could hardly believe how many people spent the time to sign up and leave vitriolic comments.
Amongst the criticisms and rants that I thought were pretty unfounded, one was hard to argue with: this guy is a narcissist!
Although I think it's important to be emotionally unaffected by baseless negativity, that doesn't automatically mean that all negative comments are baseless. I mean, they do have a point: I wear a silver necklace with my name on it. So I'm a narcissist. I like to think that I'm not a really bad narcissist, but maybe that's like an alcoholic pointing out that he's not the biggest alcoholic on the planet .
As a blogger I think that it's important to write about failures as well as successes, high points as well as low points. Maybe in this spectrum there's also room for things that I'm unsure of, like narcissism.
I really do think very highly of myself. It would be more politically correct to water that down, but that would make the statement less truthful. I've set a bunch of goals in my life and reached most of them. I've set fairly strict principles to live by, and I've stuck with them. While many people don't resonate with my work, I've heard firsthand from tons of people that I've made their lives better, too. All of that makes me really happy and boosts my self image.
At the same time, I've made plenty of mistakes and have plenty of flaws. So I don't think I'm perfect, I don't think I'm better than everyone else, but I do think that I'm pretty damn good, and moving in a good direction. In short, I'm really proud of myself. Proud enough to wear a necklace with my name on it.
And I wonder if that's a bad thing or not. If I believed that it was a bad thing, I'd do my best to work on the habit and remove it. It's ingrained enough that it would be a challenge, but I've tackled harder traits. I can see that it rubs people the wrong way sometimes, most obviously random people on the internet that I don't know. But maybe it also rubs people the wrong way in real life, and they're just too polite to say anything.
On the other hand, there are at least some good aspects to whatever form of narcissist I am. Being proud of myself helps keep me in a very positive mood all the time. I am my own cheerleader, and I keep myself motivated by thinking about past successes and planning for future ones. I have little to no insecurity.
Sometimes the best way to evaluate these things is to think about how it would look on other people. I have to admit that if I were to see anyone else wear so many things with their name on it, I would probably think that it was weird. On the other hand, I think that pretty much every person I know ought to be a little more outwardly proud of themselves. It's easy to take things too far, and maybe I do sometimes, but I always enjoy seeing people who have a lot of pride.
To me the distinction comes down to relativity. There are people who think that they're better than everyone else, and that sort of arrogance is obnoxious. On the other hand, there are people who think that they're great, but they think that a lot of other people are great, too. It's hard for me to objectively believe that that's a bad thing. After reading all those comments, I wonder if a blanket prescription of more positivity in general, towards ourselves and others, isn't the exact thing we need.
So until I'm proved otherwise, I'll continue to allow myself to have a high self image, even if that means I'm considered to be a narcissist. I'll also continue to enjoy it when other people are in the same boat.
I have no idea if this post is of any value or interest, but one thing I've learned from my daily writing is that often times when I'm very motivated to write something, it tends to be more interesting than I expect.
Photo is a crazy statue here in SF
OK, it's confession time. I am a HUGE narcissist. I mean, obviously I think I'm the greatest, better than your boyfriend, etc. But at least that is all true beyond any doubt.
What I'm talking about today is different. I am my biggest fan. If I make a new song, I will listen to it for at least 24 hours on repeat. Often times I listen on my computer, then play it in the bathroom while I take a shower. When I'm in front of the mirror I lip sync and dance to my own music, imagining that I am performing it. Then after my shower I listen to it in the car while I drive.
Is this normal? Or at least healthy?
A few days ago, I wrote an open letter to a good friend of mine - "I Think Greatness is Something You Are, Not Something You Do" - I said to him, I'm not a great man, just a normal man working on great things. Greatness is something you do, not something you are.
To give you some background, my friend Brendon is just one of the most amazingly good people in the world. He takes care of everyone around him, his mind, body, and spirit are sharp. He's a black belt, an excellent programmer, a philosopher, a Shodan in Go (actually, even stronger than that - he's a Shodan under the Asian rankings, so probably even higher in America), a hard worker, extremely loyal, a clear and free thinker, widely read and knowledgeable, and again - an amazingly good guy. I've learned a lot from him (notably, he taught me how to play Go, sysadmin Linux, understand basketball at a very high level, improve at martial arts, improve my fitness, and other good stuff - we'd usually go drink green tea and play Go at Samurai Restaurant in Boston, go fight in the park, talk philosophy out at nightclubs, do stuff like that).
He wrote back to me about greatness and humility. I think this is a really beautiful piece, so I asked him if I could gently edit it and put it up. He graciously agreed. It's long, but go ahead and just start it and give it whatever time you have - there's a lot of amazing insight in here.
A Quick Favor Request - if you learn from this or it helps you, please send Brendon a quick email to [email protected] - he was actually a little gun-shy about having such a personal piece put up with such raw power in it. He only agreed when I told him how many people it could help - so please, drop him a short line to say thanks if this teaches you as much as it did me.
Without further ado...