Thought Catalog
May 17, 2017

Let’s Stop Calling Everyone A Narcissist

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What is the issue?
Aral Tasher

If you look it up the term online, you’d be hard-pressed to find any negative behaviour across the board that isn’t covered by the blanket of narcissism.

Is he close-minded? Narcissist.

Does she play the victim? Yup, complete narcissist.

Did he lie to get you into bed? Did she cheat on her taxes? Are they always quick to anger?
ALL NARCISSISTS, people.

. . . Is it possible this word is being used a little too much?

I would argue that the only truth at the core of narcissism is a primary interest in the self. That mindset alone does not make a horrible person. It’s certainly a reason for why one could do horrible things, but no more than the reason for why one could accomplish some great things, as well.

I exhibit narcissistic behaviour, myself, there’s no doubt of that. Whether that behaviour paints me as good or bad, I think that’s more subjective. What I’d like to do is shed some light on a side of narcissism that differs from the usual evil so often associated with the word in our society today.

Perhaps it will show there is more (or less) to narcissism than an inflated ego and a general lack of morality.

My Past

I’ve never understand people who stay stuck, miserable, or unhappy. I tend to dismiss their problems. They’re not actual problems, really. They’re abstract problems. Can they not see this?

Why do I hold such disdain for them? I don’t mean to. I try not to, in fact.
I think it’s how I deal with the shame I feel for my younger self – the boy who cried and cried, unwilling to pick himself up from the puddle he poured and then fell into.

I was quite introverted as a child. I was envious, too, and full of wishful thinking. I wanted to be cool like the other kids. I wanted to be great at sports and girls and everything else. I saw only failure and sulked away my sorrows.

Sometimes I wish I could go back and pull that boy to his feet.
Get up, child. Stop wasting these precious moments of your life. Imagine holding a grudge against your past self. Such an odd thing to do.

I just needed more time, I suppose. Too much time.

My Reasoning

Something changed, of course, and I eventually did wipe my eyes and lift myself from the mud. There was so much I desired in this life that I couldn’t stay stuck any longer. I developed a determination. My drive began to outweigh my insecurities, and while they never did go away, they became a lighter burden.

Years later, I continue to keep moving. I can’t stay still or get comfortable – I did enough of that when I was young. And despite whatever gains or achievements I make, all I see is what lies ahead.

I’m too self-absorbed, they tell me. They’re not wrong. I am self-absorbed. I must make up for all that precious time lost, you see.

My selfishness is a result of fear. I’m afraid to miss out on all the things I want so dearly. I care more about that than I do for the people around me.

You might hate me for this. Still, I cannot change. To do so would be a betrayal of everything I am and everything I crave. My desire is the only religion I follow so blindly.

My Perspective

I read somewhere that, to narcissists, people around them are no more than side actors in the story that is their life. I think that’s a fair description and I can relate. It doesn’t mean I find people insignificant or that I lack empathy. It’s simply a perspective that I’ve been placed upon this earth for an experience. I see myself as the main character in a story.

How can I make it all about me? Can’t I see that the world is full of real people with their own hopes, feelings, and dreams?

All I can do is shrug. I would encourage everyone to follow their own paths. It doesn’t mean we’re all going to step on each other’s toes.

I don’t treat the side actors in my story poorly. I would feel guilty for taking the slightest advantage. But, at the end of the day, I exist for me and I plan to enjoy myself while I’m here.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe you’re as selfish as I am. If not, perhaps this can help you understand that not all narcissists can be painted with just one dark brush.

The central theme of narcissism one might take away from the countless posts being written about it is that narcissists are everywhere and we need to rid ourselves of them!

Don’t get me wrong: There are some terrible, manipulative people out there, I’m sure. But, I refuse to believe there is some epidemic of evil narcissists roaming the streets.

I do believe there are a lot of people out there who put themselves first and tend to do only what’s best for them. I bet some of them go on to create successful companies, write musical masterpieces or books that flood the shelves in airports. I’m sure some of them are obsessed with their Instagram photos, too.

I doubt they’re all sociopaths slowly taking advantage of your good will. People will always be self-interested creatures; some more than others, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. TC mark

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