“What section are you?”
The question came from a friend, who sat beside me at the kiosk area. I was participating in my school publishing organization meeting in preparation for another set of activities this school year. Given a 10-minute break, I walked aimlessly to the kiosk where I saw my friend. I answered her question explaining of its convenient schedule. In turn, I asked her the same question as well.
“Well, I am not yet enrolled, but I definitiely will not be in the same section as you. It’s pressuring me!” She jokingly said.
I was briefly offended and slightly flustered of such notion. It is not the first time to hear people around me saying the same thing – in a different context. I usually fall silent whenever people commend me of my brilliance, since I am cautious of their statement – was it sarcasm? A deprecating one? It is difficult to be proud without giving the wrong impression of condescension.
I believe people who are commendable and exemplary experience this inner conflict at certain times. This is why when we are given small praises, it is difficult to give feedback. Oftentimes, we awkwardly smile or hastily say thank you with a big grin on our faces. We do not want to come off as arrogant or too proud. Yes, we should not care on what other people think, but being sociable is a part of life; there is a need to balance out to be accepted.
This inner conflict had continued several times until I came across an interesting article by happenstance. It was entitled 10 Things To Never Apologize For Again by Forbes. In one of its lists is this:
It is laughable that I always uplift myself with self-help statements, but resume my negative habit of overthinking.
In another scenario, this person (which I will name as Vills) with competitive tendencies loves to be praised. Well, he does not directly do this, but I can occasionally hear him saying “I got highest in [names the subject] compared to you [mentions the name of his friend].” “I know the answer of this! I am definitely sure!” “Hey, what is your grade? Let me see!” “Haha! I am perfect! See? Look at this!” I do not know him personally, because he was never my constant companion, but I did observe something.
He avoids me; not because he dislikes me, but because he felt intimidated. I heard numerous things about him – “An absolute braggart and competitive”- from a friemd who has issues with him. According to my friend, Vills hates him because he is the only person who can outstand him in their class. “I once got the highest,” my friend told me “then he suddenly shuns me. Whenever I talk to his peers, he would say ‘Guys, we got to go. It’s becoming too vile in here.’ He was jealous, you know. Cannot really stand his presence. You have to be cautious.”
Vills did nothing trouble to me. He is nice -or should I say too poseur. He greets me when necessary. He is friendly, but not in a friendship level kind of friendliness.Vills is just one of the many people who felt that way of me.
Sometimes, I wonder: Is this why people who are excellent in their fields tend to feel lonely? Isolated? It is frustrating that people see me as a foreign being. It is difficult to blossom deeper connections, because people are afraid to know me in the first place.
This is the first time that I express my grievances due to an uncomfortable bubble buidling inside my system. There really is nothing wrong with being excellent. The one in the wrong is them – they think negatively about people who are great in their work.
In my country, we call this term as crab mentality wherein people drag down the person who is successful or doing good in his life. It is like saying “Don’t get too far without our permission.” This mentality leads to unimprovement and failures. There is no room for growth.
It is a need for me to change my perception about my accolades and excellence. I should not be afraid to lose people, because I know they are not prepared to know me as a person with flaws. As what my bestfriend told me “If someone gets intimidated by you, then he is not the one.”