I used to walk with a limp. Not because I was in any discomfort (most of the time), but
simply, I thought, for the purposes of attention. It wasn’t until a recent voyage to a rather high-brow city, full of young people, vivacity and an overwhelming sense that everyone there was probably better off than almost everyone outside of this golden city. It was home to a very famous and prestigious university, and the students there were fully aware of it. In fact, those who were not students were also very much aware that in order to live there, one usually needed a good financial standing, and made a point of knowing it. All of the shops were expensive boutiques with designer clothes and perfumes and the likes, where the simplest handbags would make the kid who made it on the other side of the planet weep in frustration and anguish at the incomprehensible exorbitance of its price tag. Why am I mentioning this? What has this got to do with my semi-fake limp?
Well, it’s easy to become frustrated with such people; I don’t come from a particularly well-off heritage, and where I used to live – where I grew up – we had this notion that well-off people were to be despised; the bourgeoisie was a scourge on the land, and yes, perhaps I am an eighteenth-century French peasant, but that was just the shared sentiment. Nowadays, I understand that while it certainly isn’t a crime to be affluent, it can hurt when it’s rubbed in the faces of those who are not. A lack of any humility in the material sense (i.e ostentatiousness and bling-bragging) can incite resentment in those who are beneath them on the socio-economic ladder. From my aforementioned upbringing, I had some resentment for these people as well, without knowing anything about them. Simply looking at someone smug and living in such a well-to-do place was enough for me to label them all as the same clone of the caricatural, yacht-owning snob, with millions to spend on things like cigars and expensive cars. I was concerned by this at some point, when I found it difficult to find a single person I didn’t find to be so. Sure, there posh voices and nice clothes helped me to view them in this way, but in reality, such resentment is a thin veil for envy, which many of us may share. A knee-jerk reaction to our
I realised, after a while of thinking about why I despised nearly every individual in an entire city for no reason, that it was because they were doing well. I was a victim of such prejudice, even though I thought myself to be above it. After all, why would I need to be jealous? I’m not exactly impoverished or homeless, so why do I feel this anyway?
It was comfort, or lack of problems, or pain. It’s unclear as to which one is most important, but they play a role in determining who is and who isn’t to be despised. I understood that the reason I walked with a limp and the reason I’m constantly furrowing my brow to the point of getting headaches regularly is because I never want to be seen as anything other than concerned or uncomfortable. I think that, unconsciously, I can’t allow myself to become something with which I can’t relate; the same kind of bourgeois who would be mocked by those in my social entourage from earlier. Essentially, I’ve lived most of my life making an effort to outwardly show that I am in pain, even when there is no reason to be, just in case someone looks at me and perceives me to be too smug and boastful. Society, at least my own social background, makes it out that to be happy or to try and be better, wealthier or more at ease in life, is selfish and wrong. “Stop doing that, it’s making the rest of us feel insecure!”
What are friends if not obstacles willing to hold you back from unleashing your full potential on the World. In fact, your friends might be why you aren’t currently ruling Earth. You’ve had to keep up with moronic trends, juggle other people’s feelings and watch your status; how you’re perceived versus how you perceive yourself, you’ve had to contend with these ‘friends’ and compete in clique-to-clique rivalry. This is all very primitive and tribal. Group identities are just a bland mask to wear when you can’t have a personality of your own, it seems – and yet, we suffer this continuously, perhaps because we fear that the alternative is worse; not having a social group or some people upon whom to fall back and rely, who call themselves friends.
It’s important to not allow yourself to be held back. Sometimes it seems as though one can’t socialise if one wants to do well, but in fact, it’s virtually impossible to do well without a social network. How do we overcome this dilemma? Can we still have our own personality and still be in a group who will accept us for who we are, people who will support us and help us forwards rather than hold us back?
Yes. It’s simple in theory, but hard in practice. The hardest part? Be yourself. Wow. Sounds a bit cliché to me. By that I mean, of course, develop your own personality. Become your identity. Figure out what you like, dislike, want and need. You might have some ideas of your own if you think long and hard enough about things! That’s the difficult bit. The next bit is simply to live your identity and manifest your ideas and believe in them, but not be too stubborn to accept when you’re wrong. You will gain friends just by being a real person instead of this plaything some people would make of you. Some people will challenge you, some will not see things your way; whether you are able to convince them of what you’re saying or not, it will still be clear that you aren’t simply regurgitating the ideas of someone else who’s thought more about it than you. It’s akin to standing up for what you believe, only with actual thought behind it rather than blind faith in someone else’s cause.
There will always be likeminded people with whom you can make deeper connections and who will help you thrive; even those who disagree and who challenge you can still support you. Just because two people have firm and real opinions or ideas, it in no way means that they can’t appreciate each other and their views. I consider myself lucky to be close with several people who disagree with me on a regular basis; I think it’s great that I get to learn more about other notions and in debating them, I get to understand more about my own thoughts. Once you have people like this in your life, you won’t need the fakeries and falsehoods that come in-built to these robotic, hollow groups who will never serve any purpose in your life.
I certainly don't have many friends or acquaintances I like, whom I want to have surrounding me, but those I do appreciate are worth far more to me than anyone else. Quality does not only outweigh quantity, but any amount of socially parasitic people; those who confine you and don't allow room for your individuality, drag you in the opposite direction. If you have these kinds of friends, they become a negative impact on you, as opposed to a supportive, positive relationship you would have otherwise.
Returning to the earlier point, I was wrong, and I admit this, to think of these young, wealthy people as being insufferable. The inability to not be slightly envious, even unconsciously, was my part to play in my immediate and instinctive disliking of them. It's important to accept our own part to play in our own problems if ever we decide to overcome them. It is possible that I wouldn't like these people anyway, had I interacted with them, and I certainly think that such an outcome would be likely from the few dialogues I did have with some of them, but disliking someone because they're happy? Well that does sound silly upon further reflection, doesn't it? Especially if that means I can't allow myself to seem outwardly happy, for fear of judgement. I don't really want to fake happiness, but I certainly don't think I should be feigning despair.