There’s a new disease that has latched on to the minds of most and is taking large bites out of us, all the while blowing soothing air on the resultant sore, like the rat does, causing us to feel good about it.
This disease began with the need to fight low self esteem and as the battle for our self worth took full swing with words like “Whoever cannot handle you at your worst does not deserve you at your best.” this disease spread faster than Ebola and HIV combined.
I heard about this abnormality for the first time while in Primary school. Primary school was the best stage of my life. I didn’t know it at the time of course. It was there that I featured in a play taught by Aunty Dorothy.
The drama was a rather funny one showing a rowdy class dancing and chanting “Narcissism smalltality.” The noise attracted the attention of a class teacher. When she asked the now quiet class the reason for the commotion, someone answered “Narcissism smalltality” causing the class to pick up the chant again. Despite her obvious intention to enforce discipline, the class teacher soon joined in the dance.
It continued this way with higher authorities coming into the class to find out what was wrong only to get caught in the madness until the whole school was chanting.
Of all the plays i was ever in, that was the most meaningless, yet I enjoyed it immensely.
Once I grew older and learnt there really was a word like Narcissism I checked for the meaning and expected to find that it means something that makes people misbehave. It doesn’t. It means excessive love for oneself.
That didn’t seem like such a bad thing at the time. Unfortunately diseases do not start out looking bad. They are hidden by the healthiest bodies and thrive there so that you do not know how bad it is till it’s too late. Narcissism is one of such which starts off looking attractive.
Loving one’s children is an attractive quality. This love makes us want to teach them self confidence. For that reason we validate them, sometimes even when they are wrong, and restrain elders and teachers from correcting them and trying to damage their ego. Unconsciously, through our attitude, we raise kids to see everyone who corrects them as haters or as people trying to bring them down. We train them to see themselves as the focal point on which the world revolves.
We the adults are no better. I see more quotes encouraging self love than those encouraging love for neighbour. We read these quotes, internalize them and begin to act accordingly. Look around you and you’ll see the effect of this everywhere.
I see it in a friend I had who was highly quarrelsome and managed to fight with every single person in our clique. This same person always has her Facebook wall populated with posts like;
‘A real man will see you with hair scattered, make-up running down your face, body and teeth smelling because you haven’t cleaned up ( don’t mind me I added this part for fun) and still hug you and tell you you are the most beautiful woman.’
And things along the lines of ‘Love is blind doesn’t mean being visually impaired but being blind to your woman’s faults. A real man will see beyond your faults bla bla…” And as i read them I think, maybe i don’t want my brothers to be real men after all.
Narcissism is the reason why there are uncountable Facebook posts about what a real woman should do for her man and what a real man should do for his woman. And the men like and share only the posts detailing what women should do for them while the women share posts of what men should do for them. We are all after what people will do for us. Me me me. I love myself can’t you see it? You must love me too.
We want people to accept us as we are but are not willing to reciprocate.
Granted, we all exhibit degrees of Narcissism. Sometimes I stand in front of my mirror, flashing a smile our politicians would kill for were it converted to currency, while singing “Look up in the mirror, the mirror look at me, the mirror be like baby you the ish god dammit you the ish.” (I know, I can be silly sometimes 😁)
Most of us display Narcissism to some extent. According to a publication in lifecounsel.org everyone has at least a little narcissism, but at the point where love for self leads you to belittle or hurt others it stops being healthy.
I realise now that i was right when I thought Narcissism must mean something that causes people to misbehave, after all what else will you call this attitude where we are quick to call people out but do not take lightly to being corrected? Where we expect people to endure from us things we wouldn’t accept from them?
Never have I come across a trait that impedes genuine appraisal and self improvement like narcissism does. Everywhere you turn, there it is staring at you, most often disguised as self confidence and I believe it’s time we see this for what it really is – a personality disorder- and begin to correct it before we become like Narcissus, the fine man who fell in love with his own reflection that he withered away staring at it.