I have a pretty bad problem going on here. It’s about narcissism. I’m not here to talk about how it can eat away at your very being (although, me being a high school student writing this in SUMMER should be a giveaway to that in and of itself) or to warn people against the dire dangers of arguing with a Narcissist, because, seriously, DUH! Of COURSE it’s dangerous! They can and WILL destroy you…
…If you don’t win first.
I’ve been blessed; I don’t have narcissistic parents or family members, and I didn’t even know what a narcissist was up until freshman year. My heart and soul goes out to those unfortunate enough to have to fight this war every waking minute of their lives. I’ve taken the narcissistic personality quiz (I’ll put a link for youse guys at the bottom of the post); I registered a whopping TWO. I swear I took it honestly, and multiple times over several months too, just to make sure I wasn’t deceiving myself. I got a one in entitlement and one in authority. I’m the freaking anti-narcissist. Maybe that’s what allowed me to become so adept at fighting them.
Here’s what worked for me.
I’ll call him Fred, because why not? Fred seemed like a normal guy; honors student (like myself), very intelligent, had a lot of friends. Yet, I’ve always had this sort of a sense when dealing with people, y’know. I can sort of pick up when something’s… off.
Well, Fred was a friend of my friend (I know that sounds like an urban legend, but it’s true) and he didn’t like that I had the audacity to be friends with his friend, as if this kid was an object or some rare resource to be fought over. I’m a very sarcastic, light-hearted person, so I initially laughed it off.
Then it started getting to me.
First it was a look; you know the one. That look of disgust, reserved for the people that disgust you. I still to this day have NO CLUE what I did to deserve this; as most of you who have read up on narcissism probably know, it could be anything I did. Laughing to his face probably didn’t help, though.
Next was a twofold strategy: belittlement and exclusion. The first one was constant, saying how I’m not good enough for honors (well, in retrospect it was a MASSIVE mistake on the school’s part for putting me in Track 1 Algebra) and just… UGH!!! It’s really hard to describe it! It was constant, though. I’ve had problems with bullies before, several times; I’ve been in arguments and I’ve been on the brink of fights. This was not like that. It was more like the Cold War between America and Russia; fought by proxy. The second was more on my own part, although I firmly believe it was intended. Whenever he talked to, let’s say Bob, Joe and Eric, I wouldn’t join in the conversation specifically because I didn’t want to face the belittlement.
It reached a boiling point in sophomore year. He would belittle me in our “laid back” classes (i.e. the ones with teachers who were laid-back enough to not care if we talked a bit) and even got involved in the Model U.N.; the only thing I had where I could talk to my friends at this point without being belittled (besides our lunch- by some miracle, he chose to sit clear on the other side of the cafeteria) and he did good, too. I commend him for that; he was a master debator (tee-hee). And then he would belittle me THERE, too. Everything he could think of, he’d use to eat away at my morale: my looks (not exactly my best feature, but still), my family (whom he had never met), my politics (how dare I have the audacity to be a Republican!). And I pretended it didn’t- I duct taped the wounds- but it hurt.
Luckily, by this point I had called him out on his steaming, narcissistic pile of bullshit to some of my closest friends, who one by one have started agreeing with me. So, I now have allies. Thank-you, John and Mike! And yet, in a way, I’m still alone in these hostile waters because even they don’t hate Fred to the extent that I do. It’s pure, primal rage at its finest.
Anywho, what really drove the nail home for me that he WAS indeed a narcissist (a little part of me had been praying he was a frikkin’ normal person) was when he was played with his hair in class. I don’t mean like playing as in scratching his head or twirling his hair or… whatever else you could possibly think I meant. He was literally styling his hair in class, and just basking when other people said it looked cool or nice.
We had to do a project for Spanish class, right? A menu, written in Chilean (which is actually Spanish) I would be a lying liar if I told you I didn’t procrastinate on it. My part was to type up the actual menu. Since I suck at translating anything and am wicked fast on a computer (I’ve clocked myself at a hundred words a minute fullspeed without homerow) it was a logical job for me to do.
I did it on the last night after almost forgetting it (I told you I’d be a liar if yadayadayada), but damn did I do good! I even put a game on the back of it, you know, like the thing a kid would color in while waiting for his chicken tenders to come. I’ve always done that stuff on projects, gone above and beyond. All I had to do was e-mail my teacher the finished document so that he could look it over.
But alas! The e-mail link didn’t go through! Damn Comcast. Well, the next day Fred is like “Where’s the menu?” with just that voice to it, the almost derogatory inflexion. I tried to explain it to him. “Honestly! The link didn’t work!” It was like talking to a brick wall. No, it was worse. At least the bricks are made out of soil, which is made of things that used to be alive that MIGHT have understood my point better than Fred could.
He went up to the teacher after class, saying, and I do quoth: “Mr. So-and-so, I’m sorry, but apparently some people in my group are untrustworthy to do the work and can we send it to you for tomorrow.” You add in the extremely hostile tone yourself. That was said, with ME standing right next to him! I mean, I could understand saying it behind my back and all, but no. I had to hear it; he wanted me to hear it. And that got at me.
Don’t worry though; my teacher was understanding. After Fred huffed out of the room all high and mighty I told him “Listen, I’m really sorry; I did try to e-mail it to you but the link didn’t go through. If you’re going to take points off for this, please don’t take them off for the whole group. Just me.” Luckily, he didn’t take off points for it and the e-mail went through the RIGHT way that night.
THIS NEXT PART IS REALLY FLIPPIN’ IMPORTANT!!!
One time, my Common Core-thumping ELA teacher, who 364 days of the year hates my very being, had us write a fake letter to a fictional group of not real schoolchildren who didn’t lose their fake Century Oak tree because no such tree never existed in the nonexistent county in some unidentified state. So, I took the persona of the Mayor of Philadelphia, somewhat revelling in having all the authority in the world over these fake kids (I do want to shoot for mayor… eventually) and wrote an epic speech about preserving history and detailing life and all. This was freaking Braveheart and Declaration of Independence level material in terms of inspirational writing.
My teacher LOVED it. He melodramatically flattened himself against the chalkboard when I asked him if he got it. I had been expecting a rant about it being over their heads and all, you know? It sort of was, I’ll admit it. Anyways, he loved it and asked me to read it to the class. This was it! FINALLY! My teacher didn’t hate me anymore!
Later, in one of the laid-back classes, my old friend from grade school- we’ll call him Greg- said to me “Superawesomefighterpilotguy (because that’s definitely my real name), that was pretty good, that essay.”
Well, my narcissistic “friend,” notice the quotation marks, wouldn’t have any of that.
You’ve all heard of guerilla warfare; that’s a given. You know the deal, hit-and-run tactics, IEDs, Molotov cocktails- make the enemy think it simply isn’t worth it. Obviously blowing narcissists up is waaaaaaaaaaaaay overkill and illegal, no matter how many societal and ethical problems it would solve. But that first one is applicable to every day life, minus a blazing firefight.
I call it Thunder Child principle, after the HMS Thunder Child from H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds. She was a torpedo ram, and managed to kick the shit out of the Martians after they spent the first half of the book doing whatever the hell they want and trouncing any attempts to fight them.
Where did I leave off before talking about guerillas and badass battleships? Oh, right, Fred wasn’t going to let me get any praise at all. He started critiquing it and just blablabla. “It was way over their heads, and the writing wasn’t that good and I’m an asshole.” Okay, he didn’t say that last part, but that’s what anyone whos’ ever dealt with a narcissist WANTS them to just admit. Just own up to it for Christ’s sake! Everybody makes mistakes!
You’ve been reading this entire post just to get to this moment, I can tell. It’s right in the title. So, here’s what I said to him: “You know what, Fred? I don’t care about or need your opinion.” And then… I just ignored the shit out of him and his pitiful attempt at retaliation and kept up conversation with Greg. I could see his poor, massively oversized ego sinking like the goddamn Titanic. Or a tripod after the Thunder Child‘s through with it. And I felt great. After that he’s sort of left me alone for a while. But he’ll be back. It’s in his nature- it’s in the narcissist’s nature- to not lose. Ever.
But at least I know how to fight him off now, and so do you. Freaking do this and more to their massive egos…
Open combat is suicide. Don’t do it. I don’t need to tell you this, other people have. Just don’t do it. Don’t listen to people that tell you to argue with them; they’re wrong and probably haven’t dealt with the rage of a narcissist.
Keep a level head, strike like lightning and then make like Graham Chapman and “Run away!” Rinse and repeat when they come back for their revenge. Simple, economical and satisfying. It gives you just enough position to blast the hell out of them while not presenting- no, not giving the narcissist a target to shoot back at. Shoot-and-scoot. Come on, Thunder Child!
Oh, right, here’s that link to the narcissistic personality quiz I promised you up there: http://psychcentral.com/quizzes/narcissistic.htm