On Being Impressed

We are usually prone to be dazzled and thoroughly impressed by those who display exceptionally abundant wealth and fame. We become so eager to approach them, touch them, and invariably obtain their autograph so that we can authenticate the fact that we met with them. Yet we rarely question this acute, and almost desperate, infatuation with those who seem to be “impressive”. Rather, we indulge in it, and we don’t hesitate to idolize and revere those who made it to fame, affluence, or power.


The feeling can’t be more natural, for we human beings need those who motivate us and inspire us to be the best version of ourselves. After all, people who are powerful, famous, and wealthy are a rarity--hence special. Yet this logic lacks a critical piece: being impressed should not be predicated merely and mainly upon the outcome, say wealth, but rather, it should be built upon the resources one has as a means to achieve the staggering end. To better capture it, this could be summarized as an equation: Level of impressiveness= outcome/resources.



In other words, if you are too wealthy (high outcome), yet you inherited the wealth from your late parent (high resources), then naturally, we wouldn’t be that impressed (low impressiveness), for we know that you didn’t work diligently and overcome the seemingly impossible to achieve that outcome. Yet if we manipulate the resources, say you came from the bottom 10 percent (low resources), then it then becomes reasonably logical to be impressed, for you persevered and demonstrated adequate assiduousness to gain our adoration.


This all seem common sense; nevertheless, its application in our everyday life is deeply flawed. Take an example of a mid thirties single mother whom you met at the community college, and let’s name her Eva. Eva comes at class a bit late, where her countenance seems to express deep melancholy; she also seems worried, anxious, and overwhelmed. We spot her, but never dare to wander further in our thoughts: what we saw isn’t that impressive.Thus far, we only have the outcome (her being at a community college), which isn’t that high, and the level of impressiveness, which is also quite trivial. Yet if we dig further, if we apply the aforementioned equation to this young, tired woman, we might discern a formidable being, a superhero if you will.


This all seem common sense; nevertheless, its application in our everyday life is deeply flawed. Take an example of a mid thirties single mother whom you met at the community college, and let’s name her Eva. Eva comes at class a bit late, where her countenance seems to express deep melancholy; she also seems worried, anxious, and overwhelmed. We spot her, but never dare to wander further in our thoughts: what we saw isn’t that impressive. Thus far, we only have the outcome (her being at a community college), which isn’t that high, and the level of impressiveness, which is also quite trivial. Yet if we dig further, if we apply the aforementioned equation to this young, tired woman, we might discern a formidable being, a superhero if you will.


Eva wakes up at 7.a.m. every morning to prepare breakfast for herself, her young child, and her ill mother (who suffers from alzheimer). She has grown accustomed to waking her mother up, who uncontrollably pees herself, just to be stricken by the fact that her mother doesn’t even remember her own daughter. She then gives her son a quick ride to the public school where he invariably gets bullied and humiliated by classmates for lacking proper attire. After driving towards the community college-- which is something she has to do for a number of years given that she can only take one class per semester-- she heads to her work as a waitress at the restaurant in town. There, she has to painfully appease angry customers, smile at strangers, and keep up with the grumpy, authoritarian boss. While juggling between demanding work, her troubled son, her diploma, and her sick mother, our mid thirties mother is also struggling from a vicious form of clinical depression. Yet despite the mental agony she has to go through everyday, she manages to take care of herself, her mother and child, her classes, and work.


Of course, no one runs towards Eva asking for an autograph, for she, to many of us, is mediocre, maybe normal at best. Yet if we were to apply the formula, we would find that Eva is quite the hero, for the achievements she is demonstrating are out of proportion to the resources she has. In a utopia, people like Eva are revered, venerated, an idolized in our society, for their bravery, perseverance, and endurance are truly a rarity. In a utopia, strangers should approach Eva to express their admiration and impressiveness more than they do with the Kardashians. In a utopia, the formula, call it the formula of impressiveness, is taught to young children from an early age, to inculcate in them the idea that people like Eva worth hundreds of Kardashians, to teach them that bravery isn’t by achieving the tremendous, but by sometimes courageously enduring the insurmountable.


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