Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Status Frustration

It occurs to me that a lot of drinking, and/or feeling bad occurs when we think of ourselves as low status.  In other words, when we've internalized the status that the outer world gives us.  Because, and brace yourselves, unless you're among the very select few, and the probability is that you are not, you will never be the best, at anything, unless you define that thing so narrowly that only you and a few others fill the category.

Anyway, this is a permutation on a running them here in this blog, sure.  So, you know, it is also a recurring theme elsewhere.  On some level, if we didn't feel inadequate, we wouldn't have an incentive to move anywhere or do anything.  We need to feel some disequilibrium, and desire attainment of something.  How much should we get, then?  Well, largely we benchmark ourselves with our peers, those people who share a similar set of characteristics, and, let's face it, we feel better or worse depending on where we think we stand.

That's a moving marker, mind you.  If we're like average, and chances are much higher that we are than that we're not, we'll move around a few times geographically, and our social spheres will necessarily change.  I mean, even if we stay in the same location, this generally happens.  Right?

I'm not sure yet where my thoughts come out on the matter, but I'm scared.  I'm scared that status is the driving factor behind a lot of what we do, and audience and importance of one's perception are actually more important than  other things (feel free to insert them here!).

The funny thing about actually attaining status is that it we always adapt and our goal posts always move farther out into the field.  We can't really get it and hold it forever.  I sincerely do not believe. . . listen to that!  I sincerely want to avoid the thought that youth is an attainment of some kind of status in itself.  Sure, when we're young we appeal to others the most, because everyone is looking to get together and figure out their mating or their life partners.  And so one's looks can become embedded in their benchmarking process, whatever it is, which--and here's where I insert a value that we can all agree on, on one hand, and go out and see is patently untrue on the other--is wrong because looks shouldn't determine status.

But they do!  On one hand, consider racism of all sorts.  On the other hand, consider that blond haired women make more on average, than their brown haired counter-parts.

Anyway, youth does not a beautiful life make.  If you are even mildly interested in anything around you, being young represents a tremendously ignorant period of one's life.  Point of fact, it takes a long time to get to know about one subject, or one person.  There are entire classes on one author, or one of his or her books!

The point is only this.  We still must rely on the outer world for our meaning making.  We cannot shun it and find some spiritual switch wherein we're "free" from it and can rely solely on that "within" ourselves.  We certainly don't need to rely on one or two indicators from the outside world to exist, or have healthy self-esteem.  That's very different from shunning the entirety of social hierarchy.  It exists, and we are part of it.  There's nothing we can do about it.  We stand somewhere in that hierarchy, whether we want to know it or not.  That's not the question of primary importance, though.  Although our motivations should not rely solely on climbing status ladders, increased status has real tangible benefits.  Consider the university professor who has tenure.  Consider the partner at the law firm.  Or Mayor Bloomberg?  Sure, there are costs to high status that we can't forecast precisely from a lower status position.  But there are real benefits that we don't have when we have lower status too.

The way out of this paradox is to recognize your relative status from the eyes of your previous status.  I was once a kid.  Now I'm an adult.  Once I thought it was really cool to a) eat ice cream for breakfast and b) hang out all day and bounce on a trampoline.  When I speak to a child, there's increased responsibility to both understand where they are coming from and model behavior that will instill some good patterns.  It is more complicated now than it ever was. That's something to embrace like a cold fudgecicle. 

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