“If you really want to screw someone, pay them a compliment.” ― me
Compliments feed the ego and make the compliment-ee feel good. In turn, they also make the compliment-er feel good about making the compliment-ee feel good. But what actually results from our happy, overstuffed, corpulent egos meeting the cold, agnostic reality that binds us all? Cognitive dissonance.
You’ve been told all your life how smart you are, how much potential you have, what great things you’re destined for. Perhaps you even believe it. You’re a polyglot, a polymath, you’ve served your country, earned advanced degrees, seen some of the world, you play a musical instrument, and you have an IQ of over 150. Congratulations. Really. These are not bad things.
But, when you (and all that goes with you) find yourself broke, unfulfilled, unhappy, and working your ass off for barely minimum wage, you start to question reality itself. Is this how life was “supposed” to turn out? Eventually, this questioning turns in on itself and the real culprit behind this injustice: you.
Surely, you are the real problem, right? Actually, no.
The cognitive dissonance (i.e., bullshit) you’ve been swimming in your entire life has programmed you in ways that don’t jibe with reality. It’s like trying to run FORTRAN on your iPhone. It’s kind of a cool idea (in a certain nerdy sorta way), but ultimately… iOS responds with, “FOR-WHAT???“ Lest you start to question your programming skills, you need to realize that it’s just the wrong environment for that particular syntax. In less nerdy terms, you’ve been indoctrinated by less-than-helpful BS to thrive in a BS-only reality. The fact that you’ve come to believe the bullshit is actually the problem.
To be sure, self esteem is important, but it must be real. It must be earned. Unrealistic compliments, no matter how well intentioned, can ultimately serve to fuck you in the long run reality game. Thunder is fine, but if Thor didn’t have lightning to back it up, he’d be nothing but fart gas in the wind.
Allow me to share a favorite quote with you:
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On!’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
― Calvin Coolidge
The Japanese and Chinese cultures both have proverbs related to this.
Eat your turkey and counting your blessings on this Day of Thanksgiving. But also consider having a side order of bitter.