“I’m gonna hate myself in the morning if I have to love myself tonight.” Woody Allen
Okay, you’ve gone through years of self-loathing, now you’re better. You’ve read books, listened to weird Dr. Phil, heard Jennifer Lopez say, “You’ve got to love yourself first.” Nobody loves themselves more than Jennifer Lopez (or possibly Woody Allen). Jennifer has her own internal fan club. She dates guys who can’t spell Pablum (Woody marries women who still eat Pablum).
If Jennifer can do it, you can do it, too, right? Hell, lots of younger guys can’t spell Pablum. You’ve just got to start shouting “I’m really, really, really great!” The Pablum boys will come running. That’s if you don’t do it too much. Then it’s creepy. Even Pablum boys recognize creepy.
Jennifer is creepy. She’s also a dancer. Following in her footsteps is like sticking your finger in an electrical outlet. Of course you’ll look like a great dancer. All electrocuted people look like great dancers.
It still doesn’t make you great. Women who are really great — like Michelle Obama — are modestly great. Jennifer’s annoyingly great. Deep down, she knows if you look at her too long, she’ll start to deflate. Then you’ve got to decide if that’s part of her being famous or she’s a pool toy.
“I’m beautiful, smart, adventurous and unbelievably talented, and he ghosts me. Me, for cryin’ out loud. Are you kidding? Now I wouldn’t let him lick my Manolo Blahniks.”
Annoying in any form is, well, annoying. A woman wrote an article on dating, saying, “I’m beautiful, smart, adventurous and unbelievably talented, and he ghosts me. Me, for cryin’ out loud. Are you kidding? Now I wouldn’t let him lick my Manolo Blahniks.”
Let’s not get hung up on the shoes, folks. The writer got ghosted. Somewhere along the way she oversold or underperformed. Maybe she never got a chance to perform. Or maybe she was too busy trying not to deflate like Jennifer.
It’s possible we all have an innate sense of blimpy people. It isn’t so much the inflated egos that gives us cause for concern. We all build ourselves up at one time or another. The problem is how we process who we are as opposed to who we think we are. If we come across as deluded or blimpy, chances are we will start hissing.
Human dirigibles are a tricky business. Dating is actually an act of figuring out who can stay airborne in a relationship and who goes down like the Hindenburg. Being “beautiful, smart, adventurous and unbelievably talented,” may be true, but it also conjures up images of people running for their lives. You can’t be too careful with Hindenburgs.
We have about 65,000 thoughts every day and, shockingly, 70 percent of them are negative.
So why do we do it? How did we get so Hindenburgy instead of pleasantly balloony? Why do we overly love ourselves?
Experts believe we do this because we’re not positive by nature. We have about 65,000 thoughts every day and, shockingly, 70 percent of them are negative. Feeling bad simply feels more natural than feeling good. It’s part of our survival mechanism going back to primitive times.
I doubt the earliest cave dwellers considered themselves optimists. All those drawings palaeontologists found weren’t done for artistic reasons. Life was just too crazy and dangerous outside. Hanging around, painting an antelope on the wall, was better than actually hunting one. Back then, even a small antelope could stomp the crap out of you. Staying put, letting others risk their lives, was just good thinking. Artists lasted longer than hunters.
In the same way, we feel safer having inward lives. We watch “The Voice,” feeling a sense of community with the winners. We build our own successes out of theirs. It’s the same with sports. Any time you see fans tearing up a bar, it’s because they lost. It’s a personal failure. Fans are just glorified cave dwellers.
We find ways to be happy by transposing other people’s successes into our own. We just figure, what the hell, if I think I’m Jennifer Lopez, it’s better than thinking I’m me.
Laugh tracks are a sign of succeeding. We want laugh tracks in our own lives. Someone could make a lot of money making a laugh track app.
Transposing ourselves has a lot to do with today’s culture. Everything we see on television is about achievement — even if it’s getting laughs. Laugh tracks are a sign of succeeding. We want laugh tracks in our own lives. Someone could make a lot of money making a laugh track app.
Barring that, we do the next best thing. We overly love ourselves. We take those silly self-help book’s advice that say, “You’re the most important person in your universe.”
The fact that our universe isn’t “The Voice” or “The Grey Cup Finals” is secondary to the dopamine these events produce. We sublimate like crazy. We inflate, we grow a pair, we Hindenburg.
Only, like Jennifer Lopez, we get carried away. Why be just a “cute, thoughtful, caring person?” That ain’t selling, that’s settling. How are you supposed to feel truly good about yourself if you don’t engage each day in endless optimism? Isn’t putting out positive vibes attracting positive vibes?
You’d rather lie to yourself, thinking you’re not just throwing out vibes, you’re throwing out “star vibes.”
Well, positivity should be its own reward, but think where you’re coming from. You’ve had years of self-loathing. Just “liking” yourself isn’t enough. You’d rather be Jennifer Lopez than you. You’d rather lie to yourself, thinking you’re not just throwing out vibes, you’re throwing out “star vibes.”
We’re all “star vibers” in a way. We know deep down a lot of it is just costuming, but we’re big on exteriors. The term “dress for success” is universally accepted. Clothes count. It’s less work than actually being adventurous, incredibly talented and, of course, gorgeous.
As a student said on social media, “Sometimes having the right lipstick makes me feel better than good grades,” which in due course led an educator to ask why so many students place more emphasis on clothes than academic achievement. “They’re putting wardrobes before work,” he said.
This isn’t anything new. Every era has had people dressing like someone else or acting like someone else. We smoked to be like John Wayne. We wore mop tops to be like The Beatles. The difference today is we’ve got so many outlets and images making us want to be better than we really are.
We’re no longer accepting ourselves, we’re heightening ourselves. We’re following the principle rule of advertising: “The more you tell, the more you sell.” So we sell, we inflate, we promote like it’s prime time at the Super Bowl.
If you tell porkies, you’re dead. If you inflate, exaggerate, ingratiate, you’re dead.
But like every advertiser knows, and like Bill Bernbach said, “You’re only as good as the product itself,” meaning if you oversell, you’re dead. If you tell porkies, you’re dead. If you inflate, exaggerate, ingratiate, you’re dead.
In other words, sure, feel good about yourself, be the centre of your universe, throw out some positive vibes. Just don’t go all Hindenburg.
David Ogilvy once said: “Promise them anything, as long as it’s true.” Something to think about, right? It sure beats being ghosted. Jennifer Lopez has never been ghosted. One day she will, though. She’ll deflate.
They all deflate eventually. If you listen carefully, Hollywood is nothing but hissing. Jennifer will hiss louder than most.
Robert Cormack is a novelist, journalist and blogger. His first novel “You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)” is available online and at most major bookstores (now in paperback). Check out Yucca Publishing or Skyhorse Press for more details.
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