Everyone is a narcissist. If you don’t think so, you’re actually proving my point by thinking you’re different from everyone else. We all have an obsession with ourselves. We seek relationships and attract people based on common interests because it is pleasing to our egos. Who doesn’t like someone who has things in common with us? It validates how we feel about ourselves.
I read a book-twice-called Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mlodinow that creatively breaks down the title’s name to be factual by backing it up with science…great read. There was a part of the book in which Mlodinow states that our mind is part scientist and part lawyer. However, it is much better at being a lawyer than it is a scientist. This is based on the concept in which we all have an ideal sense of who we are and that we seek experiences to prove this right.
I don’t think there are many people who think that OJ Simpson didn’t kill his ex-wife and Ron Goldman. However, Johnny Cochran knew that OJ had arthritis. Simpson didn’t take the medicine and with a swollen hand, the bloody glove left on the scene didn’t fit…so you must acquit (Cochran had #bars). This is what we all do internally because deep down, we are all obsessed with ourselves and there are many aspects that we don’t like. In other words, narcissism is the yin to our crippling self doubt’s yang that creates a healthy balance.
Creatives and artsy people are typically the most narcissistic of the narcissistic. As I write this, there is a looming boycott of black actors and actresses based on the grounds that they are not accepted by white Hollywood’s premier form of validation: The Oscars. Sure, it’s a microcosm of how blacks and people of color are treated and viewed in America. However, it’s a fucking award show.
I say all of this as a creative. Writing requires a lot of drawing from outside sources and looking inward to channel it outward into something else. We are obsessed with ourselves and what we do; and we want it to be accepted and loved by others.
However, what creates this art is the crippling self-doubt. That’s what makes great art. The creative process starts with an idea, constantly toiling with it, thinking that it sucks, thinking that it’s great but we’re so unsure if people will agree with us, become increasingly hesitant, release it, and the results fulfill how we feel about ourselves when people appreciate what we do. The cycle begins all over again because we want to either replicate that success (be it critical, financial gain, intrinsic validation, or whatever is our motivation) or outdo ourselves.
For the most part, my own narcissism is based around self-improvement. On some level, I might think that I am a horrible person or something; but for the most part, my motivation for constantly evaluating myself is because I want to be the best person that I can be. I want to be the best father that I can be. I want to make sense and give context to all that happened before this very moment to not make the same mistakes multiple times in an effort to understand people and do my part in making the world a better place.
In some capacity or another, I have always loved to write and produce content that is good and I feel great when I get a reaction out of people. I spent years being a rapper and all but perfecting saying clever shit virtually off the top of my head solely just to get a response from others.Somehow, I have stumbled upon writing about not only being a father; but being a single father and a black one at that. I don’t think that I’m the greatest of anything. However, my almost thirty years of creating in this manner, I have been told that others have seen themselves in shit that I’ve drafted. Even if it was just one person said to me “Hey, man. Your writing gives a voice to black fatherhood,” then I now have a platform and to some extent feel as if it is my responsibility to use my craft to continue to do so to some extent. This only fuels my obsession with wanting to better myself and continue to write.
While my explanation of the Oscar boycott was simplified and blunt, I do understand. The actors, writers, producers, and directors that feel left out work hard only to be nominated and more often than not, win when they are playing someone who was on the receiving end of racism, classism, or semblance of systemic oppression. They too just feel as if they are doing their part in making their world a better place…because even if it’s just entertainment, it makes us all feel a little better about ourselves and ultimately feeds our own narcissism.