How not to be successful

The bubble has well and truly burst but this time is a psychic one. The age of narcissism and omnipotence has been shattered in the current economic crisis, in which previously ‘untouchable’ people have found themselves unemployed. Omnipotence has been seen a powerful driver for many successful (and presumably unsuccessful) people. If you are rich/ perfect/ fashionable/ young/ beautiful/ charming (tick at least six boxes) then you are obviously brilliant and therefore valuable. The problem with this logic is what happens if you are not brilliant. That sounds almost like failure doesn’t it – admitting that you’re not brilliant. Although agreeably not a great interview strategy why is it so hard to admit to being ordinary?

This question touches on the dualistic nature of the bubble that many of us have been living in. You are either fantastic or rubbish and if you’re not entirely fantastic then it must mean that you are entirely rubbish. There is no other option currently available; computer says no. This is most graphically represented by the high numbers of senior managers made redundant during this recession. What is actually happening to senior managers no worse in real terms than anyone else made redundant, but the fall is further and therefore it seems harder. I’ve even caught myself recently feeling sorry for city workers on the Northern Line as they become increasingly dishevelled and demoralised, finding it harder to keep up the sixteen-hour work schedules and total loss of personal life. In a working environment where people feel they are or must be masters of the universe it is not surprising that mental illness goes undetected- rather, it is encouraged. How could you tell the difference between someone struggling with Bipolar Disorder and someone who is running a major multinational company?

Being “fantastic” is literally a fantasy and it obscures the very real possibility that being ordinary is being human, and that is quite enough. These obvious facts of life are painful to accept because it hurts to lose our dreams, no matter if they are actually dangerous delusions that stop us from living in the real world. Unattractive as it might seem, the reality is that now the bubble has burst and we have our feet firmly on the ground again. We have lost our superpowers and now have to rely on our ordinary human powers.

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