Do you feel it too? I know I do. That sensation when a stunningly intelligent and beautiful woman or man walks into your vicinity, or an impeccable programmer, or a/ an **insert the person you admire here**? That sweet sting of insecurity that grips you, slowly, like a giant vice squeezing your body gently? You feel yourself closing in on yourself involuntarily, adjusting your shirt cuffs and brushing an imaginary stain off your shoulder, wondering whether that person could ever be friends with you, whether they will ever see what a beautiful person you also are.
You slide deliciously into a spiral of self-loathing, asking yourself why you cannot be better, do more with your life, get off your arse and get a flat tummy and a rounded bottom like her, finally finish that story you have been meaning to send to that publisher friend of yours, and on and on, until blackness sucks out whatever sunshine you had in your soul. It is a wonderful type of agony, berating yourself for your shortcomings, perceived and otherwise, this slicing of the grooves of your scars and your new wounds deeper, reaching out for yourself by wallowing in your comparative mediocrity.
I stand in awe in her presence, letting my eyes dance over her chiselled cheek bones on her flawless golden skin, feeling time slipping away while I work up the courage to say something interesting, feeling the same time draw out slowly like an awkward break-up. A quick hello does it and I walk away, back to my fantasies. She smells familiar yet exquisite. I wish I knew the name of her perfume, that loveliness that follows her wherever she walks and in which I am now drowning myself. I watch her turn, tracing her curves guiltily, careful not to let any one see me looking at her.
It usually takes a walk or an episode of Daria to shake off the defeating reverie, to remind myself that I am here to do a job, to grow and contribute, not be liked. It is easier to say that than to apply it. Of course I want that hot hot chick to like me, to smile at me every so often in that way that I can see the gap in her front teeth. I would be a barefaced liar if I said I do not like some form of attention. Of course I would like a pat on the back from that veteran engineer, the occasional “Good job!”
He is smiling. A smile is always playing on his mouth and he still has the look of a man who knows what he is doing, a man who has figured this life thing out. When he mentioned that he used Google to figure out a piece of troublesome code, he seemed even wiser. I use Google and I still feel stuck at a little more than “Hello, World!”
Then there is the other guy. He does not smile often. Most of the time he is staring into his Mac Book Pro, the new one with Retina Display, all red earphones and a flurry of fingers. I interrupt him by waving reservedly to ask him a question. He slowly pulls out the earphones and responds like an experienced teacher: patiently, eloquently, concisely and completely, not wasting his words or leaving any details out.
The opinions of the people we admire and look up to become facts in our ears and we mirror their movements and mannerisms hoping to somehow ingratiate ourselves with them. We seem to unconsciously seek their approval, even at the risk of great embarrassment. I find myself chiming in when a conversation on programming comes up, despite the fact that most it makes my eyes glaze over. I can only admire in wonder at what strings of text that look like bad grammar can do. It takes a great deal of fortitude and self-knowledge to be aware that you do not need any one to like you or approve of you. Uko tu sawa.
** Attractive people unwittingly set high expectations that are begging not to be met.