I’m a selfish old crank, and that fits me like a Speedo

I’m so full of myself, it’s really kind of disgusting. I thought I left my self-conscious pride behind in high school, but oh no. I’m just as immature now as I was then.

A hyper-self-consciousness used to drive me. My hair wasn’t cool, so I wore a hat. I had zits (like everyone else) that I tried to pop in class, only to draw blood. My jeans weren’t grunge enough, my flannels weren’t authentic enough. I thought I would die freshman year when I saw Courtney Wolfe had the same jacket my mother bought me a week before. And my ‘poster-boy-for-Jesus’ T-shirts? Let’s not go there.

I wasn’t cool and I knew and accepted that fact, but it didn’t stop me from freaking out about it. When it comes down to it, I wanted everyone to think the best of me. I had (and still have) an ego the size of Jupiter, and it takes the adoration of others to feed that ego.

I’m beginning to realize that monster pride is still consuming me today. I began to outgrow it in college. I still had that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I walked into the cafeteria alone and couldn’t spot a recognizable face. I had that same feeling walking into the cafeteria on my first day of work. But maturity is slowly coming. I’m able to go out in public and not flip out if my hair is a little messy. I’m willing to be a little more daring with my fashion choices, not going for the safe and comfortable all the time. Maybe that’s just the slob in me lashing out, or maybe that’s just me trying harder to be cool — but I like to think it’s me letting go of this obsession with looking just right.

Unfortunately, I still try to stoke my ego. These thoughts inflate my ego more than anything. Half the time I’m thinking about how what I’m writing will advance my thoughts, rather than just writing (this entry, for example, I’ve edited more than any normal entry because I want it to sound cleverly humble–am I doing a good job?).

A few weeks ago I redesigned these thoughts, ultimately hoping to boost readership and money. Yeah, money. That’s a good one. You may not realize that this is an entirely volunteer venture, which it is, but I try to raise money here and there in the vain hope of paying for the many hours I spend tapping at the computer. I added a donate button a few months ago, thinking maybe somebody out there would be willing to just hand me money for this thing. How big is my head? When I revamped things last week, I tried to increase my ability to link to Amazon–after all, I can earn as much as 15% on direct links to books. So now I tell everyone in the world what books I’ve been reading, what music I’ve been listening to, and what movies I’ve been watching–as if you schmucks will run out and buy The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants just because I read it. How big does your head have to be to think that? I’m lucky I can even walk out the door.

Yesterday I even added a “guestmap” to my thoughts. It’s a comment type thing where you can post on a map where you live in relation to the rest of the world and post a comment. It looked like fun, and seemed like an easy way to find out how many people were actually reading these thoughts. I checked it thirty minutes ago, and there are three of you. Thanks. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I am.

And then there’s the photos I added to the top of these thoughts. Little snapshots and scraps of illustration, artfully rendered and switched out every so often. I wanted to add something more than text to my thoughts, and it seemed like the perfect solution. But rather than just do it and move on with my life, I’ve been envisioning a T-shirt covered with real thoughts icons, maybe earning a $3 profit per shirt from Cafepress.com. There I go again, trying to cash in on my ego. And when the T-shirt didn’t immediately pan out, I started spreading all the photo icons I’ve made across one page so I could take them all in at once, be amazed at my artistry. Ooh, look at me, look at me! I have an Art minor.

And if it’s not stoking my ego online, it’s walking down the freaking street. I judge others the way I always hated to be judged, wondering how I measure up, how they measure up, wondering if they see me and think I’m as cool as I think I am.

I really haven’t matured at all. I’m still that freshman in high school–skinny, sick, quiet, ego slave. And now I’ve just spilled my guts, secretly hoping for an outpouring of ego stroking. That’s exactly what pride does when it’s cornered, it lashes out in defense, trying anything and everything to get back on top. So please don’t fuel the fire. Let my ego choke in solitude, and maybe I can find some humility underneath it all.

I’m Kevin Hendricks, and I have a problem. I’m a self-absorbed bastard. My head is a watermelon. I am humanity at its best.

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