How Pretension Can Destroy You

JR-Art-change-world

This has been a week of life lessons…considering that the “I Like Leftovers” category is expanding rapidly. However, I’m going to put this under “Advice to Life.” I may not be giving you exactly what to do or how to do something because I don’t have a place to do that. Nobody does, but I’m going to pull out a little of my experiences to help you get to…well, a better place for yourself.

For those of you who don’t know me personally, you should remember that I’m fairly competitive. A few weeks ago, I got into one of the most competitive organizations on my campus. The frontline of my university. The most prestigious position you could hold. The most difficult application/interview process you could ever go through. With this position label on your resume, you’re set. You’ve got almost everything. You have the university president’s letter of recommendations. You are on a committee of some of the best students you’ll meet on campus. This is the prestige.

I got in. Then I told them no. Flat-out declined within less than 48 hours. Ever since, I have been known as the girl who turned down this organization, because who says “no” to them?

Well, that shouldn’t be the question, really. I’ll tell you one of the reasons that I said “no.” I had no idea what this organization actually did. So for those of you who don’t know me, you should really be asking, “What exactly is this organization?”

Like I said, it’s the frontline ambassadors of the university. But you’re right – what does this organization do? Because I’m not even sure what it does/did/going to do. When I applied, all I knew was that it was really difficult to get in and really prestigious, and I really wanted to take the challenge.

That’s the wrong reason to apply for most things. Did I do it for my self-esteem? To tell myself that I could get into one of the most prestigious organizations on campus? Yes. I’m not going to deny it – there’s no reason to. And for that very statement, I can openly admit that I’m a little selfish.

You know how some people are addicted to alcohol? Or to chocolate? Or to anything? Well, I’m addicted to applications. A little bizarre, huh? If I find out about an opportunity, I have always been taught to go after it. To grasp everything that comes into view, because you’ll never know what your chances are of getting something.

I have done this almost my entire life. This is something you should know about successful people: they won’t stop grabbing for new opportunities and new chances to take because they will take the risk to get to “success,” per se. With this, you have to remember what risks those are, which include failing. Nobody has succeeded 100% of the time – it’s impossible. I have been through years of being told “no” and of not getting into ANYTHING. That really discouraged me, and like me, most people do get discouraged by this. That’s why there’s the saying, “Never give up.” Or, in other words, perseverance. Easier said than done.

And I work my ass off. That’s not an understatement at all…I have worked to get everything I have. Over time, I have succeeded, with this organization being a prime example. As a person grows with success, though, a little ounce of pretension is gained along the way. Even if you’re not being told how successful you are, you will want to be more successful than other people – it’s part of the competitive nature. However, sometimes we just can’t compare ourselves to other people.

That’s what a close friend of mine taught me the other day. Comparing myself to people has been the root of a lot of my problems. My anorexia was a result of me comparing my beauty to my friends. My low self-esteem and perhaps pretension was a result of me comparing my intelligence to my classmates. Sometimes, this comparison can get us far. But it can’t take up the rest of our lives.

Even when we put ourselves on the high-beam of the comparison, we gain pretension. And that ultimately destroys us.

I may be reading too much into this, but I think that if I had joined this organization, it would not have been for the right reasons. “Right” being defined by me.  Because I didn’t even know what this organization did, I would have only joined because I would have wanted people to know that I’m the best. Which isn’t true – nobody is better than you and don’t ever think that’s true. Why should anyone join an organization to raise his or her self-esteem and to show people that they were better? Or to even just have a resume-booster to show that you are the best? Why can’t you do something meaningful to prove that you’re the best?

17489-rope-bridge-1920x1200-photography-wallpaperThe last thing I want is to be labeled. Good or bad labeling. This is because when I am, I feel constrained in a category. Nobody really wants to feel…constrained. Maybe comfortable, but not constrained. We like the freedom to be ourselves, whether that means being adventurous or conservative or whatever. That is who we are.

To answer a lot of your questions (for those of you who ask why I said no, more specifically), if I had joined this organization, my ego would have only inflated. When I realized this, I looked around at the people who were accepting their offers to join this organization. There is nothing wrong with these people, first of all: they’re amazing and they deserve everything they have. However, I questioned if they were doing it for the right reasons as well. Were they doing it for the resume-booster? Or did they truly want to serve the organization’s purpose, which seemed very vague to me in the first place?

I have watched my friends and my classmates become pretentious. Begin to think that they’re better than everyone else only to find out that we’re almost all on the same playing field. You may have more experience or better grades than the kid sitting next to you, but you don’t have everything.

Will I forever be labeled as “the girl who turned down the most prestigious organization on campus?” Yes. I can’t prevent what other people say about me. I don’t regret it all, though. Personally, I’d rather serve the community and benefit someone else’s life through service organizations or volunteer groups rather than serving myself by pushing my self-esteem up the roof. I don’t need that. The organization doesn’t need me, either. I may have only gotten in because I’m fairly good at interviews because I’ve had so much practice. Did I deserve it? When I say “deserve,” I’m referring to actually and truly wanting what this organization has to offer?

I don’t think so. People have also come up to me and said that they are “honored” to know that I turned down this organization for their organizations. You shouldn’t feel “honored” – this is just how it is. These are my choices. This is my life. And I refuse to live blinded by an inflated ego and a crap ton of pretension.

Recently, I’ve been very careful about the applications I go through – I choose which organizations, internships, jobs, etc. that I really am interested in. I feel better. When I have applied to organizations and positions in the past month, I truly care about the mission and what the organization stands for. This is so much better, because no matter if I’m in the top organization or the bottom organization, I’m being the best person I can be. In my terms. And that may be the most self-satisfying feeling I’ve had.

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