Ambition and other drugs

You like underdog stories, because you insert yourself into them. You like hearing about guys “pulling themselves up from their bootstraps,” because you want to be like them. You weren’t born into money. You weren’t famous from birth. You’re just a regular guy. But you still dream.

Attention. That’s it, isn’t it? As much attention as possible, as long as possible, as positive as possible. You want to be a good guy. You want to stick up for your own ideals. You want to be cool. You want to be looked up to. Not just by your peers, and not just by your family, but the whole world.

The whole world. What a tantalizing phrase. “The whole world.”

Is it because of the internet? Capitalism? The “rat race” of modern-day society?

Probably because we’ve survived for so long. We have a lot more time now, huh? We’re not always dying from untreated wounds and stagnant water now, are we? (Well…Africa…) I guess, since we have all this time now, we just do whatever? Yeah, you work. But what do you do when you’re not working? When you don’t actually have anything you “need” to do?

You develop your own interests.

Augh, but that doesn’t feel good. Talking about “your own interests” just makes you feel dread. Makes you feel like you’re running out of time. That’s not fun.

What is fun, however, is daydreaming. Constantly. That’s where your ambition goes. You make up scenarios in your mind. You have all the time in the world – in your mind.

Fending off criminals and becoming a local hero – no, a local legend. In your mind, as you twiddle your thumbs away at school. At work. at any public place. You can do it. You’ve been thinking about this for so long, you’ve practically thought of every realistic possibility. Practically. You ignore the possibility that you shit your pants, because that’s probably the most likely.

Developing a love interest from a quick “Hello” at a convenience store. In your mind, as you put the jugs of milk onto the conveyor belt and fumble for your credit card. You might stammer and say a “Y-you too” when they say “Have a nice day.”

Winning the lottery. Well, you don’t really like this one as much, because it makes you look like you’re not trying hard enough. But when you’ve been dreaming for as long as I have, you’d take anything.

You snap out of it after a while, and you think: I should try harder. You try to work harder. You hope that good karma exists. You hope that no good deed goes unrewarded. You want to be a nice guy for the sake of it, but you know that it’s impossible. You’re always going to expect something. Even if you’re doing that shit in the middle of nowhere. You hope somebody’s watching, right?

“Oh, you’re such a nice guy. Doing this unprompted. What a sweetheart.”

You are being watched, actually. Watched by your conscience. Poor conscience – can’t deal with leaving a piece of plastic wrapper outside.

You watch yourself, and you reward yourself. “Gee, I’m such a good guy, huh?” You don’t say it out loud, because you’ll look like a narcissist. You’ll never be like those guys on Facebook, you tell yourself. You won’t flaunt your good deeds on social media.You know better than that, and you won’t actively seek attention. And you won’t.

But you and me both know that true narcissism comes from the inside.

“The inside.”

You think you’re better than anyone “on the inside.”

Some people might be a little more attractive. A little more successful. A little more charming. But they won’t compare “on the inside.”

Because you’re unique. “On the inside.”

No matter what anyone says, they can’t possibly compete with you “on the inside.”

 

It’s comforting to tell yourself that. It’s as if you’re actually as good as you think you are.

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