Self-respect: the secure feeling that no one, as yet, is suspicious. H.L. Mencken
I envy paranoids; they actually feel people are paying attention to them. Susan Sontag
I’ve been seeking self-respect all my life and now I’m beginning to think it was all a fools mission. In my early years I was confident
that everybody older than me had life under control while I careened from crisis to disaster. I used to wonder “What did they know? and Who gave them the secret?” I wondered when would I reach that enlightened state. I watched others move confidently through life, seeking to learn their secrets and hoping that nobody noticed my confusion. I was, of course, a fool but not willing to face the music and admit it.
As I moved through life, I kept hoping that this stage would be the one where I finally figured it all out and took control of life. High school, college, graduate school, the army; it was all the same. I was barely managing to cope and, all the while, I was hoping to get the answer.
It seems like I was always posturing; hoping that I looked like I knew what I was doing. I never pulled it off. I may have fooled some people but I always believed that they could ultimately penetrate my facade and see the loser inside. I never managed to earn my self respect.
You can’t fool people who aren’t looking.
The sad part of the story and what I think most people miss is that nobody is really paying any attention to you. You don’t really matter in their world. You are a prop or part of the scenery; not the leading man your ego wants you to be.
So what’s the point here?
Now I’m trying to get this post to a point and it’s falling apart on me. I meant to say that self-respect is a mirage hanging over the horizon of life. We all want it but it really doesn’t exist. Self-respect depends upon putting up a good facade so that nobody notices there is nothing inside. But what really frosts the cake is when you notice that nobody is even looking. You don’t even register on their radar.
I guess the point is that pursuing self-respect and seeking the approval of others is not only frustrating, it is useless like tilting at windmills, looking for unicorns and hunting the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; meaningless exertion that takes your energy and accomplishes nothing.
I’m not looking for pleasing anybody at this stage of my life. I’m not trying to fool them or pretend that I know what I’m doing. I know I’m lost but at least now I begin to understand that everyone else is lost too. There isn’t a secret except the secret that there is no secret. And if there was a secret, nobody would share it anyway.
Where was this when I needed it?