Experts say that narcissism is most likely initially developed in the teenage years or early adulthood (When does narcissism begin). So I can’t really say that I recall feeling many narcissistic feelings in my very early days. What I do remember from pre-school was starting to realize that I was not like the other kids. I started to feel that I was better than them for reasons explained below. I believe that some of the events that took place in this time of my life set the foundation for my narcissism though.
As mentioned in my last post, my parents were not very well off. My mom worked at a grocery store and my dad worked as a delivery truck driver. So we lived in a rather poor neighborhood and I was sent to a local free pre-school during the day while my mom worked. I don’t remember the very first day of pre-school but what I do remember about that place was that it always seemed very large inside, a big scary place, and the kids there were so unruly. Everybody was always running around and laughing and playing. For whatever reason this seemed so odd to me although as an adult I can look back and realize that it is completely normal. I was always the quiet kid in the back of the room or on the playground sitting by myself observing. Most of the time I felt that I was better than the other children because I was quiet and “well behaved”. This feeling stemmed from feedback I was given by my mother and grandmother whenever we would go out to eat, visit friends and family and otherwise be in public. If we were in public I was being quiet and “well-behaved”. I believe now the feeling of superiority over the other kids because of my behavior, which was really just a cover-up for my shyness, was a start to a narcissistic pattern of faking my real self that would later become full-blown.
One particular event that I remember was being on the playground wearing overalls and a t-shirt. It was a hot summer day and one of the teachers came over to me where I was sitting by myself, being “well-behaved” and asked me if something was wrong. Why was I not playing with the other children? I couldn’t believe she had the audacity to question why I was being so well-behaved. Isn’t this what I was supposed to be doing? I remember telling her that it was too hot outside to be running around like the other kids were doing. Her solution was for me to remove my t-shirt and keep my overalls on. I did not like this idea but somehow I was either convinced to do it or forced to do it, I do not remember which. Once my t-shirt was off I felt even more of an outcast. Why was I now the only kid on the playground not wearing a shirt? I felt naked and afraid! Needless to say this further solidified my need to stay away from the other kids on the playground.
My mom arrived sometime after this all happened and she could tell something was not right about me. Whether it was because I was behaving more shy than usual or I was crying I don’t exactly remember but she approached the teacher and asked if something happened. When the teacher explained she told me to take my shirt off because of the heat my mom became very upset. In her protective manner she let the teacher know she did not appreciate her asking me to remove clothing at school.
Another event I remember was the school Halloween party. It took place after school hours and I did not want to go whatsoever. The thought of being outside of my element of normal clothes and forced to wear a costume I didn’t want to wear scared the hell out of me. What would everyone think? Would they laugh at my costume? What if my costume wasn’t as good as the other kids? Well, from my mom’s perspective it was not an option to sit the party out. She dressed me up as a hobo of all things. She made me wear my play clothes that were torn and probably had stains. She charred a cork and rubbed the black part on my face to make a hobo beard. And she stuffed a pillow in my shirt to give the effect of a large belly. Then I was driven to the school and sent in to join the, um, fun. If I normally felt like an outcast that day I was the king of outcasts in my mind. As usual I stayed to myself for most of the party. Throughout the time I was there that stupid pillow my mom put in my shirt kept falling out and someone would always come over and give it to me. I was so embarrassed. I don’t believe anyone ridiculed me about it but I felt ridiculed by the whole thing.
These types of events as a young child most likely started to cause me to fake my behavior in order to please those around me. I was always looking to the adults for confirmation of my behavior. Since those who were closest to me, my mother and grandmother, would praise me for being well-behaved I started to use this behavior as a cover up for my shyness. I also started to exude the the sense that I was superior to kids my own age, further causing them to resent me. The fact that I was shy was many times mistaken for being stuck-up and snobbish.
Feel free to leave me comments or questions about any of this behavior and perhaps I can provide additional examples of events that took place in those very early years the eventually led to me developing narcissism. Next post I am going to tackle kindergarten where I believe I had the beginnings of a narcissistic relationship.