Status anxiety

Instead of working on ourselves to look cool why not work on ourselves to actually be cool?

Why are we constantly scanning around to see if we “fit” in and worried about how well are we doing in relation to the people around us?

One of the problems, as Alain de Bottom describes in his book “Status Anxiety”, is that our self-love is tied to the approval of others. The basic idea is this: if someone can validate you – they can also invalidate you. If we tie our self-worth to what others think of us, then no wonder we’re constantly chasing the approval and validation of the world.

We look at the people similar to us and then compare ourselves to them. We ask ourselves: “How much money do they have?” Then we loo kat how much money we have and make conclusions how well we’re doing. If we have less money, we feel terrible. If we have more, we feel good.

Back in the day, the farmer would never compare himself to a king – the roles in society were quite predetermined. Nowadays, however, everyone can rise up and also go down in the social hierarchy. This creates a lot more tension as we’re comparing ourselves to pretty much everyone.

This is why young girls look at Instagram models who have photoshopped their images to a great deal (and whose diet consists of Champagne and cocaine) and then think they need to live up to these beauty standards. And if they don’t look like them – they feel bad. The sad thing is, they have no idea how fake these images are and how much work has gone into these “casually snapped” photos. Some of these influencers have entire teams consisting of photographers, skilled retouchers, makeup artists, etc. A silly teenager with her phone will never be able to replicate these results.

Also, a lot of the anxiety is simply based on the labels the society gives to e.g., being either rich or poor.

There were times when being poor was considered a good trait – if you were rich, then your soul wasn’t clean, and you probably went to hell. Poor people felt good about themselves being poor. They were the chosen people by god. The rich were rich because they were lucky and because of the hard work of the poor. At least that was the thought pattern.

Nowadays, it’s the opposite. The rich are the “good” and the poor are the “bad” ones. The poor are poor because they are stupid and it’s their own fault. This is the narrative today.

In the past, the peasant was always a peasant; the lords were always lords – no matter what. Nowadays, we’re dependent on the economy, our peers, our employer, whether we remain our status or not. This, needless to say, causes much anxiety in us as there’s a constant risk of losing it.

The problem is that we take everything others say or do too seriously. If someone says that our work is crap, we start to think that it might be crap.

Before listening to anyone’s opinion, we should instead ask ourselves if this person is even worth listening to. A lot of people have no idea what they’re even talking about (most Youtube haters, e.g.), so we can safely discard these opinions.

We should succeed in front of our eyes, not in front of others. We create our own standards of what is considered success – our own metrics, not someone else’s.

We’re all going to die anyway, so does it in the end really matter if we live up to other people? Does it really matter that you have a Gucci bag and the newest version of the iPhone or a bigger and better car? Nothing wrong in having luxury items per se, but if you barely pay your rent and still worry about having these things, then perhaps it’s because of status anxiety.

In fact, you can often see that really successful people don’t care if they have expensive things. It doesn’t matter to them what car they have – as long as it does its job. They have bigger things to think about than trying to look cool in front of others.

Think for yourself and don’t be a sheep running after everything everyone else is running after. Realize that a lot of these status constructs are man-made and change throughout history.

I highly recommend reading Status Anxiety by Alain de Bottom yourself; he goes a lot more in-depth in explaining the status anxiety.

KRISTJAN