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Thursday, 30 November 2017

High-Maintenance, Narcissism, Self-Centredness

Surf the online world. We’re currently living in an ‘age of narcissism.’ The internet is saturated with pictures of ourselves, little messages of our daily thoughts, beliefs that we’re the ‘most important’ person in the world and that there’s a need to document every moment of our lives. (Good satirical novel to read on this topic: The Circle. Haven’t seen the film but the book’s fantastic).

Narcissism is about gratifying one’s ego. Those with narcissistic personality disorder tend to be manipulative, cold, selfish people, that don’t care much about others. Narcissism is not to be confused with self-love, which is loving and caring about yourself and valuing your attributes. Our culture sees putting yourself down and wanting to improve yourself as the ideal, but recently things are changing.
Narcissus and Echo.
Whilst I can be very self-centered, and at times think more with my ego than my diplomacy, describing myself as a narcissist is an exaggeration. Granted, I can be a pretty vain person; I struggle to pass a window or car mirror without checking my reflection. I (mostly) love the way I look, and generally women who take pride in how they look are portrayed as ‘stuck-up’ in the media. As I mentioned, our culture values those that put themselves down, not those that take pride in their appearance, brains, talents or other personal accomplishments. Being proud of yourself is not the same as constantly bragging about yourself to the point where no one wants to be around you.

Narcissism involves a lack of empathy, and a constant need for attention and admiration, as well as an exaggerated sense of self-importance. I admit that sometimes (in my head) I think I’m better than other people. Smarter or funnier or better looking or more talented. (And at other times I think I’m the shit on someone’s shoe). But the thing that doesn’t make me a narcissist is that I’m able to recognise these as passing thoughts, and I don’t REALLY think I’m the centre of the universe. Most importantly, I’m highly empathetic. Empathetic, sensitive people cannot be narcissists, as narcissists view themselves as more important than others and struggle to form healthy relationships with others.

I’ve always had a habit of putting myself down in front of my friends. A friend who I’m not that close with anymore used to go on about how this person and that person in secondary school didn’t like me. I used to tell her I was a narcissist and selfish and had a superiority complex and she’d agree with me and I’d tell her ‘no one else sees through me like you do.’ I once asked her if she thought I was high-maintenance. (I asked cos an ex said I was; he was one to talk. Not the most reliable opinion.) She said no, and then I told her a bunch of things to make her think I was high maintenance. It’s pretty easy to sway a person’s opinion with words. (Believe me, all my articles have a certain tone; it’s not the content, it’s the form.)

I don’t think I’m high maintenance. Being loud and animated doesn’t make one high maintenance. I’m not exactly low maintenance; I’m a troubled person, and troubled people require more external care from others. A high maintenance person is also narcissistic; they require lots of attention, admiration, reassurance, and sap a lot of energy out of you. The stereotypical high maintenance woman is someone that makes herself look like a model and insists that she needs a man who is ‘super rich, 6ft 2, drives a sports car, pays for everything, opens all doors for me, works out loads’ and a bunch of other superficial crap. (Well, it’s superficial crap to me. How about a man who is kind, hard-working, loyal, honest, intelligent, funny, and comfortable within himself? And good in bed, of course).

But high maintenance-ness is more so about your general view of others, and comes back down to that lack of empathy and need for attention. Once a different friend said to me that I was always putting myself down. As I mentioned, I’ve always had a habit of trying to say dumb things about myself around friends or boyfriends. Little things, like ‘I’m so bad with money’ or 'I'm such a mess' or ‘you’re so much smarter than me, why didn’t I think of that?’ But once again, we all do this, because our society values ‘self-loathing’ over ‘self-love.’ How else would companies make their money? Corporations sell us things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like to something Fight Club quote.

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