For us to understand what Status Anxiety is, we have to first ask ourselves, “When was the last time I attended my school reunion?”
I haven’t been to one in three years.
What is Status Anxiety?
Status Anxiety is a complexity we’ve been in a collective struggle with for ages now. To be aware of your standing socially and economically, and to feel anxious and unsure of your place in the grand scheme of things; that in a nutshell, is what I would define as Status Anxiety. We are constantly competing with ourselves to be the best we can be. But this yearning for a sense of security makes us bitter, and at often times, make us feel quite estranged from our realities.
We are constantly competing with ourselves to be the best we can be.
I wouldn’t be writing about anxiety if I didn’t know what it feels like myself, and I know how big a toll the negativity and resentment may take on us. I had struggled with it myself, as I had scrolled through pages and pages of my news feed, constantly judging everyone and everything I had seen. But in all honesty, I had nothing better to do to begin with.
The Truth of It All
In reality, we judge ourselves before we judge anyone else. We however, do not go comparing ourselves to the Queen of the Brits; we compare our actions to those of our peers. When one of our friends is having fun while we’re stuck at our desk job, while one of our long-lost companions is making art while we’re hopping on the bus; it makes us wonder. It makes us think, “What have I done with my life so far?”
Status Anxiety makes us think, “What have I done with my life so far?”
Our Conscience Plays all Sorts of Mean Games with Us
Truthfully, we are all conscious of our status. We know where we fit within our selective groups, what our roles are. We are at peace when we’re not over burdened with thoughts of failure and when everything’s moving along the way they always have. Some of us if not most, are content with what we do, in our well-defined states of being. We are confident in the path we have set up for ourselves to take.
We are at peace when we’re not over burdened with thoughts of failure and when everything’s moving along the way they always have.
But for most, a state of contentment calls for a plan of action because they are constantly in fear of settling within their comfort zones. That’s partly why, a lot of folks are insecure, in a state of crisis about their goals and beliefs; triggered by pictures and videos of their friends on social media, questioning themselves whether they really are content with their lives. That’s when the anxiety kicks in.
Two Sides of the Same Miserable Coin
To be aware of ourselves, is both scary and rewarding. Like two sides of the same coin, we are conscious of our place or role in our peer groups yet we may get petty about our wishes, wishing for more than what we have got. But it is important to remember the liquidity of the image we set for ourselves.
A lot of us want to appear larger than life, set up predetermined images of ourselves even, because that sets a precedent of what we expect from ourselves. And don’t get me wrong, I think that is one way of dealing with our fears. No one wants to present themselves as a half-finished canvas or an incomplete.
To be aware of ourselves, is both scary and rewarding.
However, the task of masking yourself creates volatility within our own psyche. I mention volatility because it raises signs of confusion when we are trying to shape ourselves. I remember asking myself, “Do I want this? Am I comfortable being ‘this’?”
I soon found out that no, I was not. Disillusion took over and I was back to square one, because the image I strived to set up forcefully had already been questioned in my mind. And once you question yourself, you start judging your actions; that’s what happened to me at least.
A lot of our anxieties shape us, for better and for worse. Something I recently came to terms with is the fact that, I had a certain class of people who would trigger my insecurities, make me bear witness to my own presumed flaws. Knowing is half the battle, understanding why is the other half. When we see a friend of ours, with art brimming through their blue screen life, we should be wary of the fact that, it’s only an image. As critical as I’m being about said friend, I’m being just as critical of myself. But it’s true when I say that it is an image which has been tailored, to be presented to the world. The reality of it is that, we’re all fragile, just as conscious, just as shrivel as the next; but there’s a lot of clarity to be gained from that.
The reality of it is that, we’re all fragile, just as conscious, just as shrivel as the next; but there’s a lot of clarity to be gained from that.
The Truth Hurts
Going back to why we suffer from status anxiety, there’s one thing to be taken away from our equality. The truth hurts but the truth that we’re all equal isn’t true at all. We could be deemed as equals on a social level, but we’re all different in one way or another on a personal level. Like unique snowflakes, we get insecure about the different shade of color on our friend’s face, “Why didn’t I think of that!?” we say. How we approach our images, how we approach our lives will never be the same.
What’s important to remember is that, we should approach ourselves with clarity. It’s okay to see someone’s life through our own eyes and feel a little critical of ourselves but we should be wary of the superficiality of our critique. To understand what’s superficial and what’s not, we have to identify what we find pleasant and what we don’t about today’s human condition. Someone who strives for a fancy house, a well-paid job should not be judged for their actions; to let someone with materialistic goals as such deter you is a bruise to the knee, one not worth taking.
It’s okay to see someone’s life through our own eyes and feel a little critical of ourselves but we should be wary of the superficiality of our critique.
Something to note, a lot of what has been written above is my own personal take on status anxiety. Try reading between the lines, I wouldn’t though. It only makes the condition worse.