It only affects every aspect of your life.
Often, we are told not to spend so much time worrying what others think about us. It only matters what you (the person in question) thinks. Unfortunately, this is yet another thing that doesn’t hold up to much scrutiny. You should definitely worry what others think of you. What others think will decide how you progress in your chosen career (or more likely the career that you tripped and fell face first into and now have to live with forever). What others think of you will determine your relationships and subsequently your family life. Every aspect of your future is reliant on the whims and thoughts of others.
Which brings me onto my point.
We spend our entire lives forced to prove ourselves. First, it’s fairly easy, we must learn to control our bladders. Strangely, we’re the only creature on the planet that does this except for maybe the domesticated dog, but that’s only because we’ve forced it on them. Around the same time, it’s walking and talking.
Then comes school. This is the first of an endless string of proving grounds. You must prove your academic prowess…
*Side note* for those that are interested, the following paragraph is very much a message in one of the amazing short stories written by the great Watergipridget.
You must constantly prove your ability to read words and then to write words. Then you must prove you can grasp the arbitrary rules that surround the notion of words. Let’s be frank. Grammar is shit. For any self-confessed Grammar Nazis out there: not only are you a twat, but the very thing you hold dear was laid down by old dead men and subject to the whims of humanity. The rules of grammar are dictated by use. If we all decided the semi-colon belonged after an ‘n’, then by god this blog would look preposterous.
As you strive to prove you’ve obtained the basics of pedantry, you must simultaneously prove you’ve grasped the deliberately confusing world of numbers and their relationships. “A stall at the fair is selling punnets of strawberries containing 15 strawberries for £2.40 each. How much is each individual strawberry?” – What kind of fair is this? If they’re being sold by the punnet, what’s the point in knowing how much each individual strawberry is? No one’s going to try and by three strawberries.
You must prove yourselves in high pressured exams where you are awarded with letters that follow you around for the rest of your days.
But it doesn’t stop there. If your letters are good you can’t relax after losing your childhood to school. Then it’s the real world’s turn to run you through the ringer and then take a steaming hot turd on your chest. You must constantly prove that you are worthy of those letters against other people with similar or better letters.
You must prove yourself through job applications and then prove yourself in an interview. You must sit opposite strangers as they evaluate your life choices, your looks and your personality. What they think about those will determine whether you’re allowed the job. If you can prove you are better than others, then you can finally become a valued member of society and start earning money.
But it doesn’t stop there.
You can’t relax and think, ‘finally, I can let go of this anxiety and start enjoying life.’ No, then you must constantly prove that it was not a mistake that the powers that be employed you. You have to prove that you deserve to be paid over the thousands of other humans and fairly intelligent lemurs that can do your job. You must work hard. Put the effort in. Put the hours in. You must succeed. It’s not enough to just turn up, which in itself is a challenge.
At this particularly gruelling stage, the fatigue starts to kick in. Your muscles burn (figuratively if it’s an office job, literally if your job is laborious) and your soul starts to weep (always figuratively, otherwise I recommend seeing a doctor). It’s here you start to realise the futility of it all. The criteria on which you are judged becomes arbitrary or downright insane.
Then there’s that weird quirk of humanity. Often, we dwell upon and remember the negative events of our pasts and lightly skim the positive. In the world of work this is turned up to the n;th degree, by which I mean to the point of absurdity. One day you could leap out the window and fall several stories in order to provide a soft landing for a baby dropped from a slightly higher floor. You’ll receive barely more than a nod of approval before receiving an email stating that the time spent saving babies will be taken out of your lunch break. A few weeks later you might fall foul of simple human error and you’re pulled into a disciplinary. ‘but I saved a baby?’ you will cry. ‘We can all save babies!’ they’ll respond.
You’ll start to question why you bother. There’s no benefit to this endless proving. You’ll be unable to explain why the people ahead of are ahead of you. They’re no less deserving than you, but nor are they calculably less competent. You’ll become despondent and even be tempted to slack. But you can’t. The minute you slow down you’ll be overtaken by those behind you.
At the end of these endless trials, when we have eventually ‘proven’ ourselves (with varying degrees of success) as much as we can, we are rewarded with death. It’s at this point you stop wondering if it’s worth all the fuss and realise that it definitely isn’t.
I’m a simple man. I’d quite like to spend my life sitting on a chair in contemplative silence (and the occasional scream of existential despair), every so often, I’d like to look out a window and maybe see a pigeon, though I could happily live without. I am denied that life as that would be too simple. No, I have to go out and ‘try my best’ as the television shows I watched as a child would tell me. You can do no more than your best. We’re all just trying our best and sometimes, our best just ain’t good enough.
I often wonder if I could be one of those people who reject modern life. Who gives up all material things and lives a life of quiet meditation. Then I realise that that’s impossible and the only people that truly manage it are eccentric rich men and odd monks who live in remote locations anyway, so they may as well reject the material because the nearest Apple shop is an expensive flight away.
We humans struggled with evolution. Really, we’re stuck in the tribal phase where ‘survival of the fittest’ meant just that. Those intent on proving themselves would charge around waving spears and bringing death and destruction to those that couldn’t prove anything. I’d have let them get on with it. I’d say ‘no more of this madness’ and sit down and look out a window. Those that could prove themselves did, and those that couldn’t died.
On the surface, we’re civilised now. Those that can’t don’t die. Instead, we linger on.
We keep going,
Hoping for the best
Think not too deeply on these words
I say them just in jest
Don’t let them tell you, you ain’t worth spit
because you failed their test,
After all, we’re all the same
Just some are better dressed.
Note: I have no internet, so had to tether to my phone. To save precious data I didn’t go looking for funny pictures.