My common law stepdaughter decided she too wants to be a writer and I can’t help but feel a little proud, like it’s because of me. This nice and very human feeling is quickly overshadowed by jealousy; what if she ends up being better than me? What if she makes it and I don’t? Yes, I have professional jealousy of an eleven year old. That’s pretty pathological.
I’m typically jealous of everyone everywhere at all times. This probably stems from insecurity. I’ve occupied about every position on the social stratosphere as you can imagine; I’ve been sought after, ostracized, ridiculed, praised, told I was beautiful, assured I was ugly. I was approached by two drunken men one evening. The first declared I was pretty, one of the prettiest girls he’d even seen, while the other was less than impressed with me. It’s telling that I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it was basically the polar opposite of his buddy’s heady acclaim.
Now what would you make of that? I mean, how do you process that information? Does one cancel out the other? Are they both right? The opinions of strangers mean less and less as I get older, but still that anecdote is a pretty good summation of my life. One part praise plus one part ridicule. Earning your begrudging respect one word at a time, if at all. It’s a constant uphill climb and I am a lazy asshole.
It’s a cliché but people really do either love me or hate me. There is no middle ground. I’ve had people (parents, teachers, peers, etc.) hate me on sight, and many of the people I’ve counted as friends confided that before we became close they too hated me. I take this as a source of pride. Anyone can be pleasant and kind and have people like them. To take someone with genuine ill feelings towards you and bring them around seems like an accomplishment I didn’t think I was capable of. But it’s also a bit depressing. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’m not all that likable and charm is far out of my realm of capability.
After reading Hitch 22 I decided to take the Proust Questionnaire (which you should take as well: http://hoelder1in.org/Proust/fill_questionnaire.html ). The second to last question asked my current state of mind and I wrote ambivalent. After thinking it over I decided I’m in a constant state of ambivalence. I’m in love with the world and hate it miserably. I think humanity is awesome and grotesque. I think I am the worst person in the world while also believing that I’m better than everyone else. Is this inability to choose an indicator of severe mental illness or a healthy way to cope with an ever changing, fluid life? I’d have to say it’s both.