Above is a link to an article geared toward the young learner, whereby “young” doesn’t necessarily correlate with age. The list of precepts one ought to learn is actually quite in line with my own philosophy. Of particular interest is #2: Make Enemies… “Popularity is the quiet sigh of mediocrity”.
Now, I’m old enough not to give a shit about popularity, but it did bother me in High School that I wasn’t the goddamn prom queen – wasn’t even nominated. In fact, no one asked me to my senior prom – I asked a freshman to go with me. Asking “why” I wasn’t more popular is pretty much a meaningless question. I think many people’s immediate thought would be that I wasn’t very attractive, or outgoing, or some crap like that. Truth is, I was a cheerleader and on the track team. I was fit and had a nice face (especially once the braces came off). I was in the advanced classes, I drank at the keg parties, I wasn’t a prude or a slut (not that anything is wrong with either), and I laughed easily. Yet, I was miserable in high school.
I went to parties because I was trying to be “cool”, but really all I wanted to do was be at home with my books. I DID all the right things, but I wasn’t being authentic. I think people could smell that on each other – like dogs whiff butts. I probably would have been much happier if I just did what I felt like doing – read more, NOT be a cheerleader (smiling is tiresome), don’t drink just to impress… the list goes on. Suffice it to say, I should have made more enemies.
Now in my thirties, I’m less likely to betray my authenticity, but I still feel the nagging urge to Win Friends and Influence People. Perhaps it’s the ghost of self-hatred. I remember a few Friday nights in my teens when I actually WANTED to go out and play with my peers, but no invitations were extended. I waited anxiously by my phone, but it remained silent. I took that silent phone as such a personal insult. But what did I know? Maybe no one was doing anything very interesting anyway. Still, I didn’t look at it that way. Instead, I chose to consider myself the Unchosen.
That’s my poltergeist. That’s why I still drink more than I want to at parties. That’s why I play adult kickball even though that’s the LAST thing I want to do with my Wednesday night. That’s why I wear mascara to work. That’s why my thigh size matters. But it’s all bullshit, and my logical mind is aware of that. My mid-year resolution is to Make More Enemies. Perhaps by turning away from the shit-show that is social life, I will finally exorcise my demons. Perhaps by saying “No” more often, and stating my beliefs more often, and being more authentically me, I will be happier.
I know, I know – NOT being popular is different from actually Making Enemies, but it’s a step in the right direction. I don’t aim to inspire hatred, but I do aim for authenticity – the bravery to embrace not trying to please. I want to kick and scream against Mediocrity.