THREE UNSERIOUSLY SINCERE IDEAS

NOT AS AWESOME AS YOU THINK

December 2020

Holy macaroni. The 16th again. Ick! Where are the month’s going? I’ll tell you what, if you ever want your life to pass you by quickly (maybe you’ve heard they do a great dry martini in heaven or whatever), then promise yourself you’ll write a newsletter to 150 people once a month. 

Have you 150 people been well since we last spoke? You look well. Have you had your botox done again? I’m seriously considering getting it done on my frown line. The other solution would be to stop frowning, but the state of world concerns me too much. Anyway, which botox specialist do you use? Can I have the number?

Hmm, seeing as though we’re already onto the topic of vanity and superficiality, let’s kick this thing off with how I want to be rich and famous.

1. THE LOTTERY OF GOOD FORTUNE AND SUCCESS

I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve always dreamed of being rich, famous and wildly successful. I haven’t set a date for it yet, I’m more of a go-with-the-flow kinda dream catcher. I’ve just always had a hankering to add so much value to the world that it runs me a warm bath of glory to bask in while I sip wine and shave my legs. 

The problem is, I’m challenged to find the value that only I can offer the world. For most people who aim to wash their bits and pits in fame and glory, it’s not easy to identify the ‘thing’ that’ll get you there. I wasn’t born into a situation that presented any sort of obvious answer, I wasn’t that lucky. Like, if I was born with a half decent voice and a daddy named Billy Ray Cyrus, I probably could have worked out how to become Hannah Montana too. Or if I’d been born into a truckload of money with media tycoon Kris Jenner for a mother, I could have worked out how to get over 200 million Instagram followers by now. But most of us just aren’t that lucky in the lottery we call life. Most of us aren’t born with skills or interests that beautifully complement our immediate surroundings and the wider world we live in.

Michael Sandel, a teacher of political philosophy, spoke about meritocracy with Sam Harris recently. Sandell pointed out that if Lebron James had been born in the the Renaissance, where society valued art and not sport, it wouldn’t have mattered that he was over 2m high and terrific at shootin’ hoops. He’s just very lucky to have been born into a society that now froths over it. 

I actually brought this up with a friend who is beelining to the top of the ladder in cyber security right now. He pointed out that if he’d been born a hundred years ago, his skills would probably have translated to a job as an underpaid math’s teacher or something. But as it stands, cyber security experts are in wildly high demand. So this luck in life does not just apply to the rich and famous and ridiculously skilled sports stars. It applies to everyone, everywhere, every how. The amount of intellect being wasted in this world because all these brilliant minds are being born into poverty or shitty households is an unfortunate reality of the world we live in. 

This idea that success and fortune relies on luck, as much as any sort of skill or ambition an individual might possess, puts limits on the levels of success most people can reach in a lifetime. But if you look at it another way, the way I’m about to tell you to look at it, it could also help you in your success chasing. 

Having an understanding of the great life lottery can help you accept the unfairness of life and stop beating yourself up for all the impressive and mind-blowing things that you haven’t managed to achieve yet. (And probably never will because you’re not lucky enough.)

I mentioned earlier that I want to be rich and famous but haven’t put a deadline on it yet. Because why? You know why! It might not happen, and that’s fine. I can say I tried my best, but was unlucky for a number of reasons. I’m not even mad. I won’t hold it against the Kardashians for getting rich and famous with a stupid reality TV show and leaked amateur porn.


2. WHY WHAT WE VALUE KINDA SUCKS

I can’t sit here and blame the Kardashian kids for strategically cashing out on their extreme luck of being born minted. I mean, who wouldn’t use their money and media connections to take advantage of a society with increasingly deranged values? If the people want to see big butts and botox lips, give the people what they want!

I’m obviously oversimplifying the Kardashians clever media manipulation and not giving them enough credit for their clear business sense. But it’s absolutely fair to point to the fact that they’ve seen an opportunity in human shittiness and used it to ride a wave of superficiality all the way to stardom and awkward marriages.

The fact that society’s obsession with wealth, beauty and power has caused these people to become richer than any human needs to be obviously starts to stir some ethical questions. Are all successful people totally deserving of all the credit and esteem and money-money we throw at them? One argument for yes is that this is how the free market works. The free market rewards human excellence and people who create value, but what we value as a society can sometimes kinda suck.
 

Exhibit A: 

When I checked out the best-performing posts on my Comfort is for Wimps Instagram, I was genuinely unsurprised to see that the top images of me were only ones where I had exposed my skin and bodwa. 


The ability to capture attention on the internet by flaunting oneself has opened doors to many young and beautiful women who may have otherwise gone far less acknowledged as attractive minimum-wage workers. Those who have managed to do it well have cashed out heavily on the fact that we love boobs. Some might claim that their profound life advice got them six-figure sponsorship deals with brands, but you and I know the truth. This is just one example of where the line between value creation and financial reward becomes a little morally skewwhiff. In fact, coincidentally, my boy Mark Manson wrote about the unfair advantage of being hot in his newsletter this week.

With that in mind, it’s worth considering where you place your own value. Think about what kind of public figures you value and support. And think about why. What value do they add to your life and is it more than say, your underpaid math teacher who got you through high school? Or maybe the nurse who helped you even though you were riddled with coronavirus. What about every single Uber Eats delivery person who got you through this damn pandemic? We need to tip them more. Or, I dunno, maybe start supporting any one of the thousands of charities doing good things for the world right now.

The personal values we choose aren’t just indicators towards the quality of our lives, they’re also votes towards the type of world we want to live in. If we spend our time talking about what happened on Love Island last week instead of the little things we can do to save the planet, the world is going to feed us more superficiality. And what has being surrounded by superficiality ever done for anyone’s confidence?
 

3. THE DANGERS OF BEING GIFTED 

Apparently, before we started referring to exceptionally gifted people as being geniuses, we said that people had geniuses. You weren’t exceptional. You had something exceptional. The Romans believed that to have genius was to have a sort of external blessing that showed up every now and then. It would give people the boost of inspiration and creativity needed to do wonderful things to the fancy Roman Empire around them.

In Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, she argues that there’s an important distinction between being a genius and having a genius:

“The idea is that the external genius helps to keep the artist’s ego in check, distancing him somewhat from the burden of taking either full credit or full blame for the outcome of his work. If your work is successful, in other words, you are obliged to thank your external genius for the help, thus holding you back from total narcissism.”

She says it was during the Renaissance that we became more “rational and human-centered” and started elevating particularly talented people into superhero status. I’m not sure these superstars received the bags of gold they might get today, but they probably got a good pat on the back by all the townspeople before entering the hall of fame.

And now, I suppose we can see how this need to celebrate the celebrity has trickled into today’s society. And we see the damaging effects of narcissism when we look at Donald Trump and everything about Kanye West.

If we treat people like they’re God’s gift, they’ll genuinely start to think they are. If we get around believing that we are something exceptional because we are told we are something exceptional, we risk breeding unrealistic views of ourselves and becoming total twat-bags. The key to living a more authentic and confident life, is being realistic and humble about who you are, what you’re capable of and how lucky you’ve been in the life lottery.  
 

Hey that’s all from me today, over and out chicos.

Signed,
Jess from Comfort is for Wimps

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