This post may seem snarky and negative at first, but that is NOT the message, I promise! Keep reading.
We all remember her from High School: the cheerleader, we’ll call her Buffy. (The mean one, not the nice one. I don’t want to categorize all cheerleaders. Lots of my friends were cheerleaders in High School!)
Here’s a story:
Buffy has been buttering up her admirers all year so that they will, well… keep on admiring her. Eleanor is one of those admirers in whom Buffy has confided in some. Buffy won’t ever invite Eleanor to a party, but if she sees her at school, she’ll definitely go over and talk to her. So they’re technically friends, right? Yeah.
So, one day it happens:
Eleanor: BUFFY! You won’t belief what just happened! I’m so excited! Jimmy Rock just asked me out on a date for Friday night!
Buffy: Um… Jimmy Rock… you mean the quarterback, THAT Jimmy Rock?
Eleanor: Yes! I never thought he’d notice me, but I helped him study for math, and… well… He wants to go out!!!!! (notice the excessive use of exclamation points)
Buffy: (pregnant silence) Oh… that’s great, really. But he usually only goes out with Cheerleaders like me. In fact, I don’t think he has ever dated a, um, non-cheerleader. (more pregnant silence) But I’m really happy for you, really, that’s really great. (notice the excessive use of the word “really”)
Buffy immediately finds Jimmy to let him know the bad news. Sadly, Eleanor has been grounded by her dad, but she’s embarrassed to tell him. So Eleanor sent Buffy to deliver the news. “Don’t say anything to Eleanor though, because that would really embarrass her. Just don’t go to her house Friday”
And Eleanor continues to wonder why Buffy doesn’t talk to her at school anymore.
Too many of us have had these experiences in life. Sadly I think I was more like Buffy than I should have been in High School. To the best of my memory, I never did anything this mean, though. When I see people at class reunions that I tossed aside as friends because I thought I was better, I am sad. Not for them, but for me. I missed out on some great friendships, I’m sure. Thanks to Facebook and social media, I’m enjoying many of them now!
I’d like to think it ends in High School, but sadly, no. It’s part of human nature to put others down so we can rise up. I’m taught by my faith that it’s part of our sin nature- but human nature, nonetheless. And I do not escape this tendency as a human- but I do try to rise above it.
The Elitist pulls people in around them to help herself get farther. She needs admirers in order to show herself/others that she’s worth something. She has few true friends (unless they can do something for her), although most people would say she is “so nice.” Until they get too close. If the minions start to encroach on HER opportunities, or if heaven forbid, they create their own, she’ll drop them like Donkey Kong. NO, that’s “It’s on like donkey kong”!* Drop them like a iPhone call.** NO, I’m sorry… a hot potato; yeah that’s it. Nevertheless, the elitist is good at what she does, and largely respected by the community. However, she values the social standing more than the people who surround her. (Admirers, if you will)
The Anti-Elitist gathers people around because she loves connecting with people, hearing their stories. She is well-known and respected in her circles, but can often be seen sitting by the newbie in a group. She loves learning from others and teaching what she knows. Occasionally, she has to fight back the voice that says, “But I should have been chosen for that.” However, she is truly joyful when she sees others succeed. She has never been featured in Southern Living, but has referred several other people when they were looking for stories. (AHEM… Just Kidding. Sort of.) In order to be an anti-elitist, you have to value people more than your social/business standing. If you continue to innovate and inspire, you’ll stay on top of your game even while pulling OTHERS up to your platform!
The thing is…
Elitism is often a subconscious condition. It’s self preservation, and many times comes from deep insecurity and fear. The reason I wrote this post is not because I have it all figured it out, but because after spending time with so many people, I know how I WANT to be. And seeing the goal is 3/4 of what’s needed to get there, right?
BE the Anti-Elitist. You may not have palm fronds waved in your face and chamber maids fawning over you, but you’ll be happier, I promise.
It also helps me to decide whom I should share my successes with! Just like Eleanor, sharing with the wrong people can cost you opportunities. Find those you really trust, with a track record of lifting others up. Look for those whose friends succeed as much as they themselves. Confide in them.
I am really curious to hear your thoughts on this. What do you think? Do you think this is even something worth addressing?
Thank you for the quotes:
* “Drop it like ______” …Donkey Kong…wait it’s “On like Donkey Kong.” ~@Musingsfromme
** “Drop it like an iPhone call” ~@ericfoster