I love this picture, as it needs barely an explanation. I live a few miles from one of the more douchebag-laden cities in America. Dudes like this are highly prevalent on a Friday night at whatever the latest cool nightclub is in Scottsdale. The women have their own version of the same vapid, flashy existence that leads to a lot of regrets. So cliché and yet so common, they do their best millionaire impression every weekend despite being in debt up to their eyeballs trying to fund a lifestyle they cannot afford. They pretend to have it all under control, to know where they are headed and what life holds for them, but they are lying to themselves.
Now, this is an extreme example of human behavior, but many of us, ME INCLUDED, suffer from the delusions of what we think is confidence. I was really bad about it in my younger days; I thought because I was the best racquetball player in the building that I was the best person in the building. Newsflash, dumbass…one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. That is arrogance, not confidence. I am well aware of that now, having grown out of this phase of my life (eventually).
I slowly figured out the following:
Confidence isn’t walking into a room with your nose in the air, thinking you are better than others. Confidence is never comparing yourself to everyone else in the first place.
Despite being told multiple times “Wait until you get older and realize that you didn’t anything back then…” I didn’t believe it. I thought for sure that I would just be more convinced of my assertions as I grew older, not less sure. But I was wrong…dead wrong. The older I get, the less sure of anything I am. I try to put the positive spin on this of marveling in how much more there is to learn versus the negative side of “I don’t know anything”. I know a crap ton more than I ever have at any point of my life, and yet I don’t profess to have too many real answers. Experience is a great teacher, and the more experiences I have the more I learn that there is to learn. It is a beautiful thing, when you think about it in those terms.
As I have written about previously, this is one of the reasons I strive to maintain a wide circle of friends, including quite a few who are older than I. Their perspective on life is different that mine, and that is to be expected. But instead of the “you’re out of touch old man” thought process, I sit and listen. I ask questions, and I learn as much as I can. While the technology and other aspects of the world may be quite different from when they were younger, the reality s the human nature has not changed that much. The same personal dilemmas, existential crises and other thoughts plaguing humanity were omni-present for them as well. The difference is, they have been thinking about those things and observing the world far longer than I, so that alone should warrant some respect.
Most people go through the phase I described above, it seems to be part of the cycle of life. Those who figure out sooner that humility and patience will take them farther than arrogance and assumptions ever will are way ahead of the game. Life has a way of teaching you things; in most cases the first couple of hints are subtle, then things escalate in order to get your attention. If you are REALLY paying attention you do pick up on the subtle hints, life will seem to bend in your favor often. If you don’t, it will feel like you are getting your teeth kicked in at times. In some ways, the choice is yours. If you are going to have an arrogant approach, life will slap you across the face until you learn to be a better human. Choose your actions wisely.
So an obvious question here is: How do I know if I am a douchebag or not? Well, I am not sure that I am truly qualified to answer that question, even being a reformed one myself. But here are a few things to pay attention to that may help you decide:
Do you think of benefit to others before yourself?
Do you secretly enjoy watching others struggle or fail?
Do you have a general superiority complex?
Do you live to impress others, even those you don’t know?
Are you living beyond your means trying to look rich, even though you are not?
If any, or God forbid all, of the examples above apply, you may need to do some soul searching. If you want to jumpstart that process, go volunteer for a day at a homeless shelter or arrange to provide a mean at the Ronald McDonald house. This will give you a much needed dose of perspective, trust me. I have done both, and nothing is as eye opening to how lucky you are until you see those who are not, those who are caring for an ill child. THAT is a life with a far different perspective than you are currently using; someone praying they don’t have to bury their child in the near future is falling apart at the seams, but has no choice other than to hold it together for everyone else. Or someone who has lost everything, regardless of the reason, and is struggling to literally stay alive on a day to day basis. That SHOULD change your tune in a hurry.
The sooner you can walk a better path in life, the sooner you will learn what true happiness is, and you will become much more comfortable in your own skin. Once you have much of your own life in order, then you need to “send the elevator back down” and help those who are not so fortunate. This is the key to a happy and content life in my opinion. Get to work…