The most peculiar thing about humanity is addiction to applause. Most of us want society to not only approve of, but to be pleased with who we are and the choices we make. Of course, praise brings nothing more than a temporary boost of our self-esteem. Still, we are willing to kill ourselves for it.
So women marry ill-mannered men, thereby subjecting themselves to a lifetime of emotional and/or physical abuse because they want powerful surnames. Parents drag their children away from their dreams and natural abilities if they can’t brag about those dreams and natural abilities to their (parents’) peers. People cheat, steal and kill to have more financial muscle than their peers.
And then we advertise. We post photos of our new cars and our new husbands and our new Brazilian hair and our economy plane tickets on social media. We try to disguise our desperate need for attention with inspirational quotes, Bible verses and testimonies.
But really, the only thing we want and the only thing we will accept is praise. We want to be told that our average-looking babies are cute. That society is proud of us for losing the weight we gained through carelessness. That our dresses flatter our body shapes. That our promotions are well-deserved because “I have always known you to be a hardworking pace-setter.”
If someone is bold or rude enough to say “yellow isn’t your color,” or “short hair doesn’t work for the shape of you rhead,” they ruin our day. And their comments drown out all the good things everyone else has said. In retaliation, we write passive aggressive social media posts saying that we don’t care about what people think. And then we accept and appreciate society’s virtual moral support of our posts about not caring what people think.
Our pathological need for applause is the reason why we are always fighting to be acquitted by the court of public opinion. People leave us because we were selfish, unkind and unfaithful. And we know it. But our side of the story will always exonerate us from all wrongdoing.
We will feign ignorance about why our relationships have failed. We will lie that we did our absolute best and our partners’ decision to leave came as a complete shock. We will say that things just didn’t work out. Or we had different dreams. Or they were materialistic and they wanted someone rich. Bottom line is that as far as everyone is concerned, we are the victims.
And sometimes we indeed are the victims but we don’t want anyone to know. What will people say about you when they hear that you are divorced? That your name evokes reverence and envy and yet your wife chose your driver to be the father of her kids? No. We must hide the truth by putting on a show. We think that our lives are only valid if we are applauded.
But the thing about that is that applause, no matter how thunderous, cannot drown out our conscience. We will always know the truth. That we are unhappy. We are struggling. We are broken. We are wrong. We need to change.