You can have too much of a good thing and today’s obsession with self-belief is an example of it. People used to lack self-confidence and self-esteem, whereas nowadays they’re doggedly convinced of their own personal worth yet for no apparent reason.
People audition for The X Factor or Britain's Got Talent and they’re completely confident about their world-class talent, usually as a singer - almost everyone under the age of thirty thinks they are an overlooked megastar. When they fail to be selected, they're genuinely baffled, grown men cry real tears and the more aggressive contestants, of which there seem to be more and more, hurl insults at the judging panel and the audience.‘My family and friends say I'm brilliant,’ is the mantra, as they waltz off into the wings and obscurity.
In the musical Bugsy Malone there's a song ‘We could’ve been anything that we wanted to be’ and it just isn't true. You need specific talent and a sense of purpose and direction if you are to be successful. If children need it, we’ll stick it on the curriculum, seems to be current educational thinking - Mandarin Chinese or maybe particle physics.
The idea that you can’t have everything you want is now anathema. There should be instant gratification, money, fame and iphones, as if there is a giant teat for all to suckle when they feel frustrated or under-valued.
We live in an age of democracy gone crazy, when everyone believes he or she can have a share of anything at all. The idea of something being exclusive or off limits causes an outburst of righteous indignation - think back to gentlemen only golf clubs and first class travel.
‘Because you're worth it' says L’Oreal, as though there should be an innate entitlement to everything, giving people overblown expectations and an unrealistic vision of what their life could and should be. The feeling is that nothing is any good unless it’s available to everyone, be it a university place or a recording contract. Modern talent programmes on TV reinforce the idea that you don’t have to work for something you want. Contestants sob, ‘But I really want this, you don’t know how much I want it!’ as if that should be enough.
The Rolling Stones tell us, ‘You can’t always get what you want’ and they go on to say that, with a bit of effort, ‘You might just find you get what you need.’
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