A Self-Conscious Narcissist

Monday, March 15, 2010

I just read a quote from someone that stirred my thoughts a little bit. It's from a website called "Grace & Poise. The line was: "The most unhappy people are those that only think of themselves."

Now, I used to be excruciatingly self-conscious. I still have moments when my self esteem wanes, but it was truly detrimental especially in my college years. I would walk into a restaurant and hear revelers laughing and somehow always thought that they were laughing at me. My eyes would rove about a room wondering what people were thinking about me and I would conclude that every whisper or sneer was directed at me. I was once referred to as a b---h by a friend of a friend. I was too shy to talk at a small gathering, but I came across as conceited for not engaging in conversation. I read a passage in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to this same effect. The main character came off as detached and disinterested simply because he was quiet. Believe it or not, I had an epiphany when I read that.

Anyhow, the deal with self-consciousness is that it is, paradoxically, narcissistic. Even though you're thinking rather lowly of yourself, the fact that your thoughts revolve around yourself makes you self-absorbed. So, by thinking only of myself, I was very unhappy as the quote above estimates. To be happy, all I had to do was turn my attention outward and the effects were staggering.

Volunteering, striking conversations with strangers, asking questions, developing relationships, and having my own family have all helped me overcome the agonizing effects of self-consciousness.

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Emily said...

I'm pretty self-conscious, too, and that makes me pretty quiet. I am trying to cultivate more relationships lately, so that's a step forward. But it was selfishness, rather than self-consciousness that got me in a bit of trouble this weekend. When will I learn? Sigh. A work in progress... :)

Jess said...

Uh oh. We all have those weaknesses that get us into a little bit of trouble, but recognizing it and learning from it are our best resources.

I still have those dreams that I'm back in high school or college and all the girls are out to get me or something. It's crazy how weak you feel when you wake up.