I was talking to my sister on the phone, and she told me that she read my blog post to one of her friends, and he said I was “egotistical.” I told her that everyone is egotistical and that Instagram is egotistical, rant rant rant. We said our goodbyes, but I couldn’t shake this insecurity, this feeling that I was guilty of having an ego. I have been trying to tell myself that I don’t care what people think who I don’t know very well and thus who do not know me, but all of a sudden I started to question all of my life choices including my decision to post honestly on social medial about what I think.
I curled up into a ball on the floor, and contemplated crying. Then I realized, what does egotistical even mean? Here was this 17 year old boy throwing the word around like he knew what it meant. Was it even a bad thing? What is an ego? Most of my life I felt like my ego was squashed because I grew up around people with larger egos than my own- thank you Calabasas. I mean I switched schools, and ran 5,000 miles away just to have some space to see who I was because I was so afraid of being judged by my peers and felt like I was locked in my eyes.
And now I was I being called egotistical? Oh hell no. I was not going to let this person rain on my parade.
I decided instead to do some reading.
The concept of the ego has been around a long time. According to Buddhist philosophy, the ego is thought to be the root cause of suffering. In the ancient Buddhist scripture the Canon Pali, the word ‘ego’ means the self, the soul, the personality, and individuality. Part of the core philosophy of Buddhism is to share love and kindness towards all beings, including ourselves. All beings have an ego and part of our journey is becoming egoless, the transcendence of self and the acceptance of the idea that we are all one.
According to Freud, the ego is “that part of the psyche which experiences the external world or reality, through the senses, organizes the thought process rationally and governs action.”
Cambridge Dictionary states that the ego is “your idea or opinion of yourself, especially feelings of your own importance and ability.”
So far, I’m quite proud of the fact that I am using my social media platforms and blog to express my ego. In my opinion, that’s the whole purpose of social media!
But then, he has to go and add the suffixes -tist and -ical. That changes things.
When he does that, he is using the word to mean that he thinks I consider myself to be better or more important than other people and that I am self-centered. The reason I freaked out that he called me egotistical is because he accidentally voiced my biggest fear. I am so afraid to come off as self-centered and like I think I am superior to others.
It is this fear that prevented me from publishing my writing even though I’d been writing stories and odd bits for the last ten years.
It is this fear that caused me to allow myself to be bullied and become depressed – I was too afraid to voice my own needs and wants that I began to feel like I was a minor character in my own life.
It is this fear that prevents me from expressing the pride and joy I have for my own friends, family, and achievements, as well as sharing my pains, frustrations, and disappointment.
I admit, I am working on being self-conscious and self-aware. I believe that self-knowledge is incredibly valuable and by taking this time to reflect on who I am, what motivates me, and what are the principles that I use to guide my life – I will be able to better care about others and contribute to the world.
I also am working on thinking about myself more. I have realized that for most of my life I have been an “emotional slave” who was too focused on trying to be a “good person” that I became depressed because my needs and wants were not being met (Dr. Marshall Rosenburg, Nonviolent Communication). I am practising assertive communication and working to change my behavior in regard to conflict and negative feelings. It’s hard and slow, but I truly believe that in the long run it will have a positive impact on my life and the lives of those close to me.
To me, I believe that every single person deserves to think that their thoughts and feelings are important and deserve to be respected, celebrated, and listened to – not just those with a blue check next to their name. I am trying to use my social media and blog to share my thoughts and feelings in the hopes of connecting with people and learning together rather than feeling isolated and afraid, which is what I felt before deciding to be authentic on social media. I like to think I was already pretty authentic in person – but if not, please DM me! I’d appreciate any constructive feedback 🙂
I hope by being open about my weaknesses, you feel safe to do the same. From what I’ve been reading, the only way to improve a weakness is practice! Just like arm muscles, but in your brain. This bitch be going to the brain gym and getting swolllllllll.
Just to prove how much reading I did, here’s the list of things I read when I freaked out and decided to intellectualize his off-hand comment. I wonder if he thought this is what would happen when he said that to my sister. Some are more reliable than others!
Ego: Ten Myths You’ll Be Relieved to Debunk, Psychology Today
“8 Signs You’re an Egotist,” eHarmony
“Why a Big Ego Isn’t Always Bad”, Entrepreneur
“Having an Ego is a Good Thing if you know how to use it”, Heart Stepping
Measuring Ego Development, Psychology Press, Le Huan Xy
“Ego, Self, and non-self in Buddhism,” Angelus – Medium