Weird things happen when you’re drunk. You act nothing like yourself while somehow letting more of you show than you normally would allow.
I visited my buddy up at BC last weekend and, after a long night of celebrating a ‘Nova win, he thought it would be funny to text everyone in my phone. What started as a harmless scuffle for my phone turned into a full on, no-holds-barred wrestling match, complete with choke holds and body slams. I don’t usually think of myself as an egotistical guy, but after a few seconds, I didn’t care about getting my phone back anymore; I wanted to win this drunken battle. He pulled my legs out from under me as I tried picking him up and then pinned me facedown with my arms behind my back.
As I squirmed my way out, we noticed the blood covering my shirt and smeared on the wall. Immediately, we snapped out of our primordial clash of the egos and realized the stupidity of what had just happened.
Like I said, I don’t think of myself as an egotistical person, but, as I drunkenly discovered last Friday night, I do have an ego, nevertheless. Each of us has an ego of our own.
And what is my ego? It’s the part of me that lets me know that I’m me. It’s the part of me that makes sure I do what it takes to keep myself alive. It’s the part of me that wants to wrestle my friend into submission just so I can convince myself that I’m not weak. It’s sometimes too sensitive and all too often misguided, but it’s, nevertheless, an essential part of who I am.
Our egos have a very “me first” attitude, and if we are not careful of what those little voices tell us to do, we may find ourselves making some pretty foolish decisions. They’ll convince us that it’s better not to apologize to the girlfriend we’ve just insulted and admit that we were wrong. It’ll fool us into thinking that only our opinion is valid, simply because it’s ours. And sometimes they’ll lead to something much, much worse.
Luckily for my friend and me, the only harm that happened was a busted-open scab and some stained clothing. For those of us who make decisions that affect the lives of others, it can be exceptionally dangerous to obey a misguided ego.
We’re all the protagonists in the little movie of our lives, commenting on the action of our day-to-day lives to our imagined audiences.
It’s perfectly normal for us to have this innate sense of self-importance. Without it, it wouldn’t make much sense for us to bother trying to survive. That being said, not one of us is nearly as important as we’d like to convince ourselves.
As with many things in our lives, we must find a balance. Without an ego, we’d be liable to get walked all over and get taken advantage of left and right. We’d have no motivation to compete with one another and create advances for society on all fronts. But, as I learned from my drunken ego-match, what our ego tells us is best is not always what is actually best.
We must be critical of what this little voice tells us and practice filtering the good advice from the side that wants us to prove how important we are to the world. We must separate the side that wants to keep us from getting hurt from the bruised ego that wants to lash out in retaliation.
We may be creatures with egos, but we do not have to be creatures of our egos.
Tom Barrett is a senior philosophy major from Colonia, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected]