Not a Real Person, Yet

“You can achieve anything you want”, we’re told from young by parents that slaved away 9 to 5 to put us through varsity, give us all those brands we wanted, buy us a car — and with every part of ourselves, we believe them. We get slated a lot for believing our parents, they call us yuccie and yuppie and have us work as interns for months with minimal pay to make us prove ourselves — because we’re not quite real people just yet. Being raised to believe you can do anything often leads to a superman-syndrome. It doesn’t conduce to being an actual person.

After years of studying (and partying), we’re constantly told that we probably won’t find a job, and if we are lucky enough to land an interview, we don’t have the experience to matter much to anyone. But still it persists, this undying belief that we can be whoever we want to be, and achieve anything our hearts desire. It’s a fire inside many of us that often translates into bloated egos and unrealistic expectations of what we deserve from the world. At one point I considered leaping off Lion’s Head because I was sure I could fly. If I had, it would have been more of a floating experience, suspended in the air by my head full of hot gas.

Older generations see it as their duty to cut us down to size, as much as they feel the responsibility to train and mentor us up. Slashes to the head when we’re overly cocky, swipes at the knee when we try to stand too tall. I’ve had a fair few moments of humility at the hands of the older people that I respect — need to call them up, tell them thank you! I’m appreciative that someone took the time to poke a hole in my head, and let the noxious ego squeal out. The experience pushed the gasses from my head downwards, to feed the fire in my belly. My egotistical need to be better than those more experienced was getting in the way of my true ambition — to be absolutely anything I want to be. Like mom said I could.

I arrived at work, my first career job, after a three month long internship with them. I’ve worked many jobs before — a stint as a pro ballet dancer, a bookstore clerk, an NGO adminner — but this one is special. It’s the first time setting foot on an upwards path, the first time I can see myself going somewhere. The company received me with my ego relatively in check, though I don’t doubt that there are still several more head-slashes and knee-swipes to come in the future.

A funny realisation began dawning on me. Speaking for the superman-ego-yuppies, we don’t see the people at work as… people. Starting out, they’re these beings that need to be hallowed and pandered to in an ever-exhausting mission of trying to get the odd ego stroke. I think it’s because we’re not real people ourselves, that we can’t think of others as real people right away. The beautiful part starts when the ego-checks have worked, and we ourselves begin to ascend into real-people-hood. It has been the most remarkable experience, watching these people, noticing all their flaws, their unashamed craziness, their unacclaimed brilliance, their deep rooted personal genius, and deeper neuroses… and starting to feel like one of them. Wanting to be as real as them. Becoming as real as them, slowly.

This growing up thing is fucking strange, all these lessons that flourish inside our deflated heads, filling us up with the things we need to achieve what mom said we could. Anything.

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Originally published at on August 3, 2015.

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