Living out your narcissistic fantasies: A user’s guide

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A disease runs rampant in many university communities, and it isn’t swine flu — or alcoholism, for that matter. It’s narcissism, or what I like to call an “Inflated Sense of Self.”

It’s simple to get: You take the attitudes embedded in arrogance, the “look at me” thoughts inherent in personal accomplishments, the self-servingness in egocentrism, the notion that we are better than everyone else in snobbery, the complimentary exaggerations that lead to delusion, and a fine dash of superiority. You puree this for a couple of years in a high-pressure blender, and you get a pulpy mixture that is the Inflated Sense of Self (ISOS).

It’s not in any social psychology textbook yet, but in the future, somewhere between learning about prejudice (a.k.a. how our group is better than all other groups) and stereotypes (a.k.a. I can reduce your group to negative overgeneralizations), college students will learn about the behaviors of their own kind.
As one example, we can take me as a hypothetical ISOS victim, and together we can flesh out the course of the disease.

I would say I’m a pretty good writer. When I say “pretty good writer,” I’m just being modest. I consider myself to be pretty damn good. Editors have on many occasions come crawling to me, begging to hear the melodic sweetness that is my writing.

Professors have e-mailed me back regarding drafts telling me I’m a “clear, concise” writer and “have a unique twist on things,” a comment that, of course, I construed as a strong compliment.

To fully indulge in the greatness that is me, I Googled “Cynthia Peng, The Tartan” and found numerous links.

Apparently, my articles have been selected for publication on a gamut of sites no one ever browses, but the fact that they were sitting out there waiting to be perused was enough to buffer my ego.

For example, I found a link on some random person’s Xanga to an article I wrote about why Michelle Kwan should be President. Up until that point, I, along with the majority of the population, had completely forgotten about the cultural explosion that was Xanga.

However, I relished in the thought that someone out there, far removed from me, took the two minutes to skim my haphazardly written yet supposedly brilliant article and posted it on “Skating articles of the week” for May 2008. There it was, thoroughly critiqued and deemed excellent enough to be thrust into the cyberworld. Never mind that May 2008 was long after anyone had stopped keeping up with Xanga; the blog “Kwantifiable” deemed it of quality.

Some kid’s mom tracked me down to show her undue appreciation for an exceptionally well-written article on her son’s piano performance. My article on piano phenom Lang Lang was linked to a site that had been hacked, but that was okay, because at one point in time someone cared enough to link it there in the first place.

After Googling myself for a while, I got bored.

Some of the links on sea urchin conferences or computer science competitions were clearly not me, and the fact that other people had my exact name made my narcissistic self highly uncomfortable. Also, I didn’t want to dig deeper in the depths of the Internet just in case, heaven forbid, someone posted something negative about one of my articles.

Being narcissistic about my own writing took a lot of time and effort.

My sense of self was no longer inflated; I was back to normal again. Thus, having cured myself of the disease that so many of our peers suffer from, I decided to focus my energy on other things, like putting all my articles in one place just in case someone decides to write a Ph.D. dissertation on my unprecedented and effortless talents.