The New Khristopian Vision

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There’s a change of direction here. I’m going to start pointing everything towards me. It’s a narcissistic move, but like most of the constructive things I do in my life it’s a self-eating snake. The more I express self-absorbed opinions, the less I express opinions about other things as if it matters – as if what I have to say isn’t already overrepresented by loud mouths much like me, or as if I can say it better than people who live through more day to day struggles that need to be brought to light.

However, I can write about myself more accurately and with more authority than anyone else.

Someone might dare to prove the contrary and write thousands of words about what I can’t see in myself because I’m self-absorbed, but that person is likely a white man with unaddressed mental health problems. Somebody who’s not a white man would have more important stories to tell from their own experiences that aren’t taken for granted as the baseline for the function of the universe. Somebody who has addressed their mental health problems would know better than to care about me, and somebody who doesn’t have significant mental health problems wouldn’t be bothered enough to write.

But I – a white woman with unaddressed mental health problems – have a load of things to write about myself. My ego has been growing. When I look back at pictures I took of myself, a serious problem that started back in the 90s, I can see the ebb and flow of weight and hair and skin and fashion sense that brings me to the buoyed state I’m in today. I’m in a pretty good place. I’d like to talk about that.

This can’t be a journal of day-to-day life because that’s not what the internet is for anymore. It’s not a safe place to talk about real people and real things without cash reward. I’d rather talk about a surreal person – myself – because I can’t get in trouble for deification nor vitriol. I can lose friends, for sure (which has happened before), but I can stop at whatever point it makes me no longer love myself.

2013: Self-Centred Edition

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Forget the overthrow of governments and the passings of some of the most influential world leaders of the 20th century – what about the milestones and transformations in MY life that happened this year?

1) I now run sometimes. This started some time in April to balance the renewal of alcohol consumption in my life with something healthier, and I’ve managed to continue it, more or less, to this very very VERY cold day. It’s the healthiest way I’ve been able to turn my self-hatred against itself and I plan on continuing for as long as my feet work. (How long that would be is always up in the air.)

2) I have another dress. It’s a bridesmaid’s dress, but I’ve already worn it a second time (less than a week after the wedding no less) so it’s not as much of a waste as other special occasion dresses. It’s hard to find opportunities to wear it, though, when the fanciest thing I do is drink by myself in my own apartment in the middle of the afternoon.

3) I’ve now been to Ottawa and Montreal. I feel like one of the last people I know to have gone to those places. The first one thoroughly reinforced my jaded attitude towards the façade of colonial nationalism. The second one got me good and drunk the French Canadian way.

4) My hair colour changed – or rather, reverted back to more or less its natural colour. Its natural colour would be if I bleached every 8th strand to pure whiteness, but I did enough damage to it to keep it blonde for the first eight months of this year so I think I’ll stick to darkness for a while. That I went blonde to begin with was one of the marvel achievements of 2012, along with sitting on a plane for the first time in four years and drinking enough to swear it off for months.

5) I got a new job. This has greatly improved my quality of life, though far from perfection it remains. I have far more time, make more money, and no longer want to walk into traffic.

6) Although the rest of these more or less go chronologically, and in that order this should go at the beginning, I’m saving it for the end. I lost my 20s. I don’t know where they went. Bits and pieces are scattered everywhere. Half of it was sold off at the end of 2012. Some of it is scattered throughout Europe and the American South. A bit of it is also lost on an island off the West Coast. Some of it is across the street from me, but I can’t go back to collect it. Other parts are short walks away but I’d rather never go those places again. A few years of it I get to keep at home with me. Some of it is trapped in limbo where places now torn down used to be. But a bit of it, just a little bit of it that was intentionally the soberest part, gets to be frozen in the history of 2013. I’m actually largely okay with that. My 30s are the ages I was looking forward to for all of my 20s. So far they’re only mildly disappointing. It turns out I still feel like a child who’s been able to fool people into thinking I’m an adult. It’s just more convincing now without a 2 in my age.

Elephant in the Room Syndrome

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Combining narcissism with the level of insecurity and self-consciousness that so many people, especially women, suffer from compounds into a fusion of social disorder. I’m not up on what’s hip in psychology these days, and my best friend, while just a phone call away, doesn’t like phones for reasons similar to mine, and my phone is out of my current arm’s reach so there’s no way I can* confirm if this is recognized in the psychology community. There’s really no point, then, in finding out what official name, if any, this mental mess may have. So I’m going to call it: Elephant-in-the-Room Syndrome.

What nobody wants to talk about.

That’s a pretty straightforward description, really. The narcissistic element of believing you are a giant presence among the rest in this atmosphere, in conjunction with the anxious fear that there is something wrong with you and people judge you for it, create this syndrome.

It makes parties more difficult to enjoy, especially around people you don’t or only somewhat know but do know others who know you. There’s a whole web of whispering around the room that you can’t quite hear, and not knowing very many people hinders opportunities to covertly eavesdrop or overtly jump in.

Making friends in the workplace is a slower, more cautious process because you see these people every day and, more importantly, they see each other every day. Workplaces are worse for gossip than school. There are more parts of a fully grown adult to pick on or belittle, and there are plenty coworkers in all lines of work who are happy to speak ill of somebody else to make them look better. Word gets around quickly, too, and even generally good people can’t escape the tight crowd surrounding them. You may be new, relatively unknown by most departments, and with few opportunities to have made a fool out of yourself (so far). But every word spoken, every name forgotten, every mistake made, and every distinctive element of your workplace appearance are ripe for judging. And as an Elephant, you default to assuming that’s exactly what everyone will do.

Every word you say, then, has the potential to be taken negatively. Saying “Hi” to somebody you don’t already know is intruding on the existence of someone else who cares not to know who you are. “Making conversation” about benign things like weather will give off a permanent impression that you are boring. “Making conversation” about popular interests like sports or entertainment only works if everybody there likes exactly the same teams and shows you do; one difference in opinion could rule out any chances of being respected by the other person. Initiating conversations on things you’re interested in when those things are political, intellectual, or of a niche hobby are incredibly dangerous if you don’t want to leave the small talk in complete ruin. So why start conversation? Everything you say is going to be judged harshly by everybody else at the party, everybody else at the office.

This reinforces the Elephant-in-the-Room Syndrome because out of caution you’re not initiating conversations of your own. You remain there, physically present but absent in dialogue, and nobody seems to want to address that (or so you’ve convinced yourself). This happens to me. It happens on a daily basis for the time being because I haven’t worked at my current job for as long as it takes for my personal comfort to establish itself. I’m terribly boring at parties. I keep to myself, but just sit or stand there waiting for somebody to point out that there is an elephant in the room – at which point, I invite myself to join into the conversation. “You know what the best thing about elephants is? The word ‘pachyderm’, or ‘packydoim’ as the mouse from Dumbo said.” A conversation about Dumbo – incidentally, my favourite Disney movie of all time – ensues. The ice is broken. The self-consciousness has been reassured, and as conversations continue the narcissism can’t overpower other people’s voices.

*What be this “Gooh-GYL” thou speaketh of? Ne’er I heard of such a thing! Now BEGONE, lunatic!

When Does Adulthood Begin, Again?

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I’m still in my twenties. It’s the only excuse I have for all the basic things I don’t know how to do, and I’m holding onto it tightly for the remaining 15 or so months for which it applies.

But also during those months I need to learn some of the things I still excuse myself for not knowing. Basic cooking, for one. While I make most of my meals at home, I make the same basic meals with few ingredients. I rarely cook any meat or use any spices or seasoning. My stove top is used frequently but my oven seldom. If I ever cooked for other people they would probably not be impressed.

Another set of skills to learn: home maintenance. I rent. I can call my landlord and get him to fix things (eventually). But I don’t plan on renting forever, as that’s another lifestyle factor I hope to no longer excuse for very long into my 30s. I might as well learn to fix basic things so I know what I’m capable of renovating myself. With a clear idea of that, I can get more bang for my buck around property time, if “my buck” means my six-figure mortgage which oh my god I’ll have to spend decades paying off uuuuuuggggghhhhh! (Another thing to get over before I’m 30: My irrational fear of all kinds of debt.)

Oh! Gardening. This is very healthy and practical, but I need to own gardenable (new word!) property first. So that’s something to learn before I’m 40, so I can jump start my spinster lifestyle.

And then there are the grown-up skills I don’t want to learn. Investing – the financial realm is an artificial (which is to say, man-made) crutch that has already demonstrated its vulnerability and potential to DESTROY THE WORLD. Child-rearing – my womb is only there for decoration; please, no flash photography and do not touch the uterus or go past the velvet rope. Automobile maintenance – I don’t drive now and I don’t aspire to drive in the future. If any of these are requirements for your definition of “adult” status, you may consider me a child for as long as you please. At least then I won’t need to explain all the plush toys in my apartment.

Narcissim. I have it.

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circa 2005

I used to take many photos of myself. Again, I’m going to claim (possibly falsely, correct me if I’m wrong) that I did this before it became widespread, before most people had digital cameras (camerae? I think jokingly wondering [in parentheses] if a faux-Latin pluralization is more correct will be a regular thing for me) or half-decent quality camera phones. I didn’t take all of these photos with fishy-lips at an angle from above to manipulate my appearance, although I did photoshop to remove red blotches on my skin and increase the contrast to make them look more dramatic. I will admit that much.

 

circa 2007

I’ve toned down the photographic narcissism simply because I don’t have as much free time as I used to, and what I do have I’d prefer to spend at my ugliest: lying on the couch in poor posture with an extra chin or two forming from looking at the computer rested on my crotch, with crumbs all over the dress shirt or nice sweater I wore to work, because I was too lazy to change into something appropriately frumpy when I got home. That’s hardly photogenic. And I’d know – I’ve seen the reflection that appears across from me when the TV is turned off.

 

circa 2009

But beyond the decline in photo documentation parallel to my decline in appearance, I still exhibit some narcissistic behaviour. I check out what I look like from the side while walking down the street by looking in most mildly reflective windows I pass. I’m happy being single because I believe I’ll make a better companion to myself than practically any man. I laugh at my own witticisms, ones that most people don’t even bother to read. And I believe that my opinions (and opine that my beliefs) are more firmly grounded in reality than the opinions of others, which seems to bother people the most.

 

circa 2011

But the better side of my narcissism is that I’m so wrapped up in my own life that I do little to interfere with the lives of others. I don’t particularly care for gossip, celebrities or otherwise, and I generally only say the phrase “Well, what Iwould do is…” when asked for my advice on something with which I’m more familiar than the person asking. Other than that, live and let live! Love and let love (including oneself)! If everybody were a narcissist and went by these rules, we’d all be too busy making fish faces into camera phones to inflict harm upon others, or wage unnecessary wars. It’s way better for the world overall than other personality disorders.