Social ineptitude: a condition I find afflicts many men who are at the height of professional success. It’s not limited to the successful (or even men), I know, but there is a certain personality type that can almost be synonymous with wealthy, Fortune 500, CEO, and ambitious. I know this is an umbrella characterization that may be particularly unfair to the creative genius types who come up with some brilliant idea or business model or invention and have an instant success. I think it could be limited to those driven, striving and toiling 100-hours a week, aiming to be the biggest and best. Even in this world, being worth five million dollars (oh the squander) leaves some of these people hungry for more and more but it is never enough. I’ve met both sides of this. I’ve been involved or known at least a dozen men who built companies, were in the thick of insanity with their work and had little time or interest in actually living. They set deadlines- retire in a few years, be worth twenty or more million dollars and then really live. Some of them have gone well beyond their deadlines. Then I’ve been friends with the people who have retired, after spending all their young adult lives striving to find themselves in their forties, rich, and alone. They pay for company, they run their houses and personal lives like everyone is an employee, and they disappear in their own mad worlds. I have ended those friendships (one such after a death threat to my poor producer over a girl), but every time I see someone caught up in the madness of acquisition, never developing social skills or anything on an interpersonal level, I worry where they will end up. I worry about myself. Because I once wanted to be a part of that crowd.
When I dreamt up this idea of being a famous singer and performer, I wanted a penthouse on Fifth Avenue. Maybe some of my visions were based on this egoic need to prove myself to people from my past and those I would meet in the present. Somewhere along the way I lost that need. I stopped caring. I joined a bunch of these millionaire meeting/dating sites over a year ago. With the internet it’s ridiculously easy for someone to network and meet thousands of millionaires and billionaires on random websites. Oddly, these men often complain that women are gold-diggers after their money. The funny thing is they promote themselves on single sites that flaunt their wealth, their proudest feat, but they are disappointed by the women their boasting attracts. I don’t think I’m a gold digger and any of the men I’ve met from these sites have said the very same. If I were to have a Gucci bag or Prada dress I’d be the first person to pawn it off and get something I could actually use. To be honest, I’d be happier with a lifetime supply of toilet paper… it’s a necessity I hate to buy. If not toilet paper, then give me a new microphone and recording session.
I know the reasons I went to these sites. The first is I wanted to deconstruct and truly understand how “successful” people function. I wanted to know how much was based on luck or drive or hard work or nepotism or intelligence. Those who were self-made had overwhelmingly common characteristic: insecurity. They wanted to prove that they could be the best, could make themselves powerful enough to control others and pay for whatever they wanted. I recognized that insecurity-fueled drive. It’s what got my ass to New York at the age of 17, it’s what fueled me to be a 19-year-old college grad, and to do a million other crazy things. But over the past five years, I learned to feel comfortable in any surrounding and be true to myself. If that evolution will hinder my success to the top, then I can live with it.
Another reason I went on this “find a millionaire” quest was to discover security. I have been on my own since 17, without a back-up plan and without anyone I could turn to for help or support if something went wrong. I was also curious about what it was like to have that security, but I’d have to say none of these “successful” people had found it themselves. The more at stake means the more there is to lose. In striving for the next best thing and taking their own fortune for granted, things were wasted or overspent without caution or care. That same mentality is probably why this country is in such bad economic form.
I also chose to meet wealthy men for a sake of new adventures I could not easily create on my own. I dined at the best restaurants in the city, I stayed at the Ritz, and I sipped martinis at the hottest lounges and clubs. But at the end of the day, I would be far happier in good company at a shady motel along the coast with a cheeseburger and six-pack of Blue Moon with the “Rumours” album blasting from the speakers. The greatest adventures are the ones that cost the least and come with uncertainty, great music, and a sense of humour.
Tonight, after meeting another self-made success story, who was clearly unaware of how to socialize and really listen, tallying up his own mental checklist of what will pass his criteria (perhaps I was doing just the same myself in some way), I really came to understand that I do not want to be part of the rampant social dysfunction in New York. I know, dysfunction is everywhere these days, but particularly in these large metro areas, the dating culture is vile. I firmly believe that by the time I turn 30, I will leave New York. I love this city with all my heart but I do not like the odds of what I may become. My dreams of a Central Park view are replaced with a fixation on an endless sea before me. Even should I reach the great professional success I have dreamt of for so long, I do not want to become part of the “scene” that dances around brilliantly coloured cocktails and empty suits. It’s not that these people are bad or evil, they serve a function in our society and their wealth will bring them a lifetime of admiration and possibilities to put that money towards something good. I’m glad to have seen and been around it first hand, but after tonight… I found myself questioning again how much an unbalanced ego is needed to make it into the top percentiles of professional success. I question my own will power to balance success and stay untainted and unmarked by the strangeness of this world.