You know those personality tests you can take to determine your personality type? Yeah, I think they’re dumb, too. And the explosion of Zimbio quizzes is just annoying. If you really know the subject, it is easy to pick the answers that will get you the results you want. And I hardly think I know myself well enough to accurately answer personal questions.
But, last year I took a psychology-based Lit class that enlightened me far more than any quiz. It turns out that I’m a Narcissist. I know there are lots of negative connotations, but it isn’t a bad thing, necessarily. And it doesn’t mean I sit around staring at myself, though I do have an unnatural attraction to mirrors. What it means is that I’m a lazy perfectionist. I need approval, but I’m only willing to do so much to get it before I just give up. Once I receive approval, my initial reaction is to rest back on my laurels. It means that everything that happens is personal, if that makes sense. Good grades translate to a professor liking me, while bad grades make me question what is wrong with me (why doesn’t she like me???). This premise is easier to maintain on subjective tests (essays, etc) and easier to dismiss on, say multiple choice exams.
To go further, I buy friendship. I don’t do this consciously, or not always. I invite people to my home, offer them food, go out of my way to do favors, unless it is way out of my way. Then I probably didn’t need her as a friend anyway. Food is a major vehicle for this impulse because it is something I’m good at and it is a universally acceptable commodity. If you accept my food, you are my friend. If you reject my food, you reject me. I’ve said this before, I’m sure.
Fortunately, I am aware of these impulses. I can’t control them, but awareness is helpful in keeping me grounded to reality. The tricky impulse is the “I have succeeded so I can stop trying” one. My post No Justice in Just (https://ithilen.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/no-justice-in-just/) was published in the school paper last week. The faculty adviser for the paper, a professor I have a lot of respect for, said it was the best thing I had written all year. As lover of attention and approval, this was a wonderful achievement for me.
It also ruined everything, potentially. It shut me down creatively (though I’m not sure I can pin point it to that meeting or if it was something earlier in the week). The compulsion to sit back and enjoy the awesome was very strong. And when I considered what to write for this week, there was a pressure that wasn’t there before, a need to exceed rather than just succeed. How the hell can I follow that? I can’t go back to complaining about mundane things, can I? I let ideas stagnate, I let the Muse take a holiday, I let myself believe that the story had to be important.
Classic mistake, really. And for that, I might not have anything in the paper tomorrow. Today, a professor recognized me from my paper photo and congratulated me on writing such a great article. I found out from a friend that it had made her cry (which made me entirely too happy, to be honest). I may never top that column, but that isn’t the fracking point, is it? I started writing for the opinion section because I have opinions, end of story. So, break’s over, Muse!!!