The Rise of Narcissism: Are We Terrified of Being Ordinary?

“I would rather be the worst failure than be average.”

-Joe, 17

‘Being normal’ has seriously gone out of fashion. Only five years ago I remember interviewing teenagers and having them tell me that they wished they could be ‘normal’ and that they hated feeling different. Today, I am having a very different conversation.

“Vanessa,” one teen told me, “Being normal is sooooo boring,” She said rolling her eyes. “I want to be unique, different—anything but normal.” And this is exactly how Joe came to tell me that he would rather be a terrible failure than be average. “In fact,” he added, “You have to be the best at something, even if it means being the worst at being the best.”

Narcism and extreme self-worth is becoming acceptable for teens. Instead of ‘normal is boring’ and ‘being the best at being the worst is better than average,’ why don’t we make a few new mantras? How about:

1. Vulnerabilities make us interesting.

2. Being the best at being the worst, is not something positive.

3. Being ordinary reminds us that we are a part of a common humanity and that makes us powerful.

4. Flare is fabulous, but being different for the sake of being different is not.

5. Effort is more important than achievement.

6. Failure is an event, not an identity.

I hope we can begin to shift our mentality as parents, as individuals and as humans to embrace being ordinary as a unifying factor, not a debilitating one.


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