Ten signs you’re not a narcissist
The other day I was staring at my reflection in a pool of water, falling deep, deeply in love, when I fell in.
Deep, deeply, because it was the deep end of the infinity pool on my breathtaking Mediterranean seaside villa I acquired by selling my successful multi-level marketing company to my $25 billion hedge fund.
Actually, I didn’t really “fall in” my pool. I gracefully dove in to demonstrate my Olympic-qualifying diving and swimming strokes to myself.
But while desperately thrashing about, gasping for breath, shouting “help, help!”, I wondered epiphany-like — because I’m wonderfully self-reflective, as I explore in my bestselling self-help book, “Leveraging Humility” — am I one of those narcissists everyone’s talking about?
My concern arose because Medium.com sends me roughly 200 stories a day about narcissism. I might be exaggerating, as narcissists tend to do, but Medium seems to have a limitless supply of narcissism stories, like there’s a Bangladeshi sweat shop where toddlers churn them out for ten taka/hour, or 12¢ US a month.
Perhaps I get so many Medium narcissist stories because I once clicked on a Medium narcissism story and the Medium computers used AI and machine learning to “think” I wanted more stories about narcissism.
Or maybe it’s because several times a day I say, “Alexa — tell me how awesome I am,” and Alexa shares what I meant to be a private discussion with the entire internet, and Medium picks up on it.
In any case, from the flood of Medium narcissism stories I receive, this psychological disease appears to be more rampant and deadly than COVID-19, anti-vaxxers spreading COVID-19, Fox News spreading anti-vaxxing death, and the Proud Boys such as Tucker Carlson (who, is it just me? seems narcissistic).
The flood of Medium narcissism stories aren’t not helpful.
I’ve learned that narcissists are evil. How to spot them. How to avoid them. Why you can’t avoid them. Why you get sucked in. How to deal with them. How to escape and recover from them.
Also, I’ve learned that most narcissists are men, and vice versa, especially terrible former boyfriends, likely due to the misogynist Y chromosome. Or maybe these guys are simply irredeemable douchebags who give all men a bad name, and for some mystifying reason their smart, accomplished and otherwise amazing dates couldn’t smell the narcissism, which is redolent as men’s cologne, from a mile away.
(I’ll probably learn after posting this Medium narcissist story why you should never make light of Medium narcissist stories.)
On a less provocative note, I’ve also come to understand why the most toxic, gaslighting narcissist in modern history became President of the United States. I see now how he was able to manipulate millions of decent Americans into hating proven facts they disagreed with, embracing White racism, attacking the U.S. Capitol, and spreading COVID-19 before dying from rejecting the COVID-19 vaccinations. The same life-saving vaccinations that the president, his family, and supportive Fox “personalities” got.
My Medium readings about narcissism have also allowed me to glean that while there’s a real actual DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for clinical narcissistic personality disorder, many if not most Medium diagnoses are not determined by trained professional therapists but love and relationship writers using topnotch armchair psychology that misuses, overuses and drains the term of meaning. Which wouldn’t seem to help anyone — neither the victims nor the perps.
But hey — I’m no therapist either.
I’m brilliant enough to leave my problems, starting with household plumbing, gum surgery, and drywall spackling, to the professionals.
So I asked my therapist whether she thinks I’m obsessed with narcissism, and if so, is it because I’m a narcissist obsessed with myself?
She scribbled something in her notebook, looked at her watch, and said, “I’m afraid that’s all the time we have for today.”
Looking at my watch, I said, “But we’re only 10 minutes in.”
“No, it’s been the full 50 minutes,” she snarled just like my mother.
I didn’t know what was real anymore. Maybe she’s the narcissist gaslighting me?
So since I’m superior to a professional therapist, I decided to self-diagnose.
Brilliant as always, I came up with ten signs I’m not a narcissist and maybe you’re not either:
1. You worry you might be a narcissist.
2. Your exes laugh and laugh when asked whether you’re a narcissist. “Narcissist?” they hoot. “He’s too neurotic to be a narcissist!” You take this as a compliment.
3. You stay in relationships that aren’t working because if you break up, your ex will post a Medium story about what a horrible narcissist you are, with enough details that everyone will know you’re the ex and ensure you never get another date or happy relationship for the rest of your life.
4. You made a joke at a small dinner gathering with a clever, oblique sexual reference, and while it got laughs, it woke you in the middle of the night in hot-sweat shame that you might have made someone there uncomfortable. “I can’t believe I said schwanzstucker!” you moan.
5. Reversing the old Groucho Marx joke that you refuse to belong to a club that would have you as a member, you wonder why someone great wants to be with you.
6. You don’t actually have a $25 billion hedge fund. You can have psychological health, or you can have a $25 billion hedge fund, but you can’t have both. Life doesn’t work that way, nor should it, dammit!
7. You don’t need to bolster your fragile ego in a $150,000 climate-devastating Land Rover SUV or virtue signal in a $150,000 climate-friendly Tesla Model X Long Range. Your car doesn’t define you. Unless it’s a Subaru, which screams flinty practicality, i.e., moral superiority.
8. On a related note, you worry about the planet as much as yourself. You also have the healthy self-awareness to recognize the irony of taking your private jet to Aspen to give a talk about fighting climate change. You rationalize it’s a worthy investment in time management, since you’re busy. You also say “invest” when you really mean “spend.”
9. You have existential moments, recognizing there are forces bigger than you. You ask, for instance, who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose in life? Why are those guys still waiting for Godot? What is this TikTok, Instagram, “dark web” and this popular “ransomware”? Why is AOL and Yahoo? Why, when we’re halfway to 2022, is the latest version of Microsoft Office named “Office 2019”?
10. You’re still reading this Medium story about narcissism. This just proves how not-narcissist healthy you are.
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.