Who is your favorite person in the whole world, in all of history, of anybody that has ever, or will ever, exist? You know the answer, I promise you. And even if you don’t believe it, trust me, it’s true. Think really hard on it. Strain yourself, make some faces … Okay, calm down, people are staring. The answer is you. You are your favorite. You’re an egotistical maniac, you crazy human. You’re obsessed with yourself and you’re happy about it. I’m sorry to do this, but I must enlighten you, dear reader — you’re doing it wrong.
Think back on your entire life thus far. Reminisce on your younger years, when things were simple and you didn’t have to do more than suckle at your mother’s tit, cry a bit if you felt like it and poop. Okay, now move on to your elementary school years (mostly similar, in my experience), and then to your teenage years. Looking back to your past gives you something I like to call ‘perspective.’ Or, more specifically, first-person perspective. If you look to any memory or experience you’ve ever had, you were the protagonist. You were the one you were rooting for, hoping you’d get the girl or defeat the injustice. It’s not surprising, then, after all these years being the main character — with everybody else in your life merely the supporting cast in this epic play that is your life — that you began to think you’re more important than everybody else. But you’re not.
Compared to the average UCSB student, do you think you’re smarter? Prettier? Nicer? Do you think you have more friends? Are you going to be more successful? Is your life more fulfilling, intellectually and socially stimulating than average? I can read your mind, look: You answered ‘yes.’ Over the past 50 or so years, research in psychology has shown that people think they are kick-ass.
Oh shoot, you may rightly realize, I passed the sixth grade, I know what average means — by definition, everybody can’t be above average, that’s not how it works. But fear not, because this ingrained way of thinking that you are really much better is quite beneficial: Without some confidence, your doubts would take over and you wouldn’t be able to function. As some tricksters very well know, ‘confidence men’ are aptly named. With a little confidence, you can do just about anything.
When you did well on that test, was it because you’re smart? Was it because you studied, or are naturally good at the material? And on the other hand, when you did poorly, (say, below average) was it because you didn’t study the right material? Was the test unfair? Maybe you didn’t really care? Our tendency to attribute our failures to circumstance and our successes to our ability can be hazardous, too. Without the proper perspective, you can royally screw up your life by being a douche, losing friends and doing poorly in school, all the while blaming your performance on your situation instead of yourself.
When describing yourself to others, you emphasize the positive and eliminate the negative. You are very good at forgetting the times you screwed up and remembering and elaborating on the times you succeeded. You’re a liar, dear reader, and you do most of it to yourself. Maybe you’ll admit that you’re not better than average … I see. Does that make you more honest then?
Daily Nexus columnist Kevin Ferguson also has egocentric tendencies — the difference is his are justified.