On the Toxic Myth of Meritocracy or Something About Expectation
I’ve wanted to write about expectation for a while. I haven’t done it yet because it is tied to something much bigger, more complex and daunting that I really want to explore — the toxic myth of meritocracy.
The toxic myth of meritocracy is the way our consciousness and every aspect of our lives is tainted by the idea that we can have, and be, anything we want if we work hard enough. If we do, then we can expect to be rewarded with our fair share of the American pie. I don’t know about you, but early on in my life it became pretty obvious that is not true, at least for the vast majority of the population. A small sum of people have a whole bakery, while the majority has crumbs.
What makes this myth so toxic is the blame inevitably falls on you when it doesn’t happen. The implication is, if you are not rewarded it is because you didn’t work hard enough, or do things “right.” If you had, then you would be justly rewarded.
So what happens when there is no reward? What happens when you don’t get what you expect because it was never really available to you in the first place?
What happened for me is that my expectation became a deep source of inadequacy.