Whether attending a birthday party or a social event, people have sometimes referred to me as being “the life of the party.” There have also been times where I found myself excluded from my social circle and community. Recently, I found myself not being invited to a birthday party that some of my other friends were invited to. Although I always try to stay positive and optimistic, I couldn’t help but feel ignored and forgotten. After spending the day alone and discovering the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer, I realized that the prince of pessimism had a lot to teach me about solitude, expectations, and happiness.
People sometimes say that you should never get to know your heroes, but I completely disagree. Having lived in Scandinavia in my early 20s, I got to hang out and party with some of the black metal bands I listened to as a teenager. After volunteering to work at concerts and festivals that were sold out, I eventually got to work backstage and would often get invited to the after-parties with some of my favorite bands. I got to see my music idols getting rowdy, telling jokes, and having fun in a social setting. These antics stuck with me and often came out whenever I was at a party or an event in my social circle.
Unfortunately, social circles are often filled with drama. Two guys become rivals, so going to a friend’s party means that I become the enemy of the rival and his friends. This may seem immature and childish, but this also happens in the Dissident Right. Supporting certain content creators means that you sometimes become the enemy of another content creator and their supporters. Even if you try to stay neutral, sometimes you end up being ignored and abandoned by your community. Such is the nature of life and social circles.
As much as we try not to care or worry about these things, there may be some evolutionary reasons why we get bitter and resentful when our social circles abandon us. Our ancestors had to form groups to survive the harsh winters of Europe, so being included and accepted in the group was a matter of life and death. While the conveniences of modern technology have made personal survival easier (minus the recent power crisis in Texas), being excluded by your friends and community can sometimes feel like emotional and spiritual death. Yet the only things that die in these situations are common sense and rationality.
Whenever I find myself not invited to a social event or party, I try to put my feelings aside for a moment and analyze the situation. Could it be that it was simply a misunderstanding? There have been a few times when a mutual friend confirmed that the person holding the event did not have my current contact information. Or they mistakenly thought that I did not want to come to their event. After clearing things up, I ended up going to these events and having a great time. There have also been times where I found out that I wasn’t invited to an event because someone at the event didn’t want me to be there. In a situation like this, I think it is important to find out whether it is one person or numerous people who do not like you.
I learned early in life that despite your best efforts, not everyone is going to like you or be your friend. If there is one person in your social circle that doesn’t like you, my best advice is to continue going to social events and ignore them. This can cause a different set of issues, but you should never let one person force you to miss out on life and social events. The real dilemma comes when two or more people in your social circle convince the others not to invite you to parties or events. This situation has happened to me a few times in my life, and both times caused me to reflect on myself and ask some tough questions. Have my actions and behaviors caused people in my community to not want to associate or spend time with me? Or have the people who were once my friends decided to ignore and abandon me out of spite, jealousy, or animosity? To put it bluntly, you will either need to change yourself or change your friends. These are the things I thought about this week after not being invited to the party.
After analyzing the situation, I concluded that it was better to spend the evening alone. To take my mind off things, I decided to watch some classic episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion. I noticed that one of the episodes was titled “Hedgehog’s Dilemma.” I paused the episode and decided to do some research on the title’s unique name. It found out that the title comes from a metaphor described in Schopenhauer’s Parerga and Paralipomena. A group of hedgehogs seeks to huddle close together to share heat during winter. Each time they get close enough to get warm, they accidentally prick each other with their spines. Ultimately, they must find a balance between keeping enough personal space while being close enough to stay warm and survive. This metaphor perfectly summarizes the balance between being a bold individual and calming your ego to get along with a group.
I spent the rest of the evening reading various excerpts from Schopenhauer’s Parerga and Paralipomena (published in modern times as Essays and Aphorisms). Schopenhauer is best known for The World as Will and Representation, but it was only after publishing Parerga that he became popular throughout Europe. In contrast to his other philosophical writings, these essays allowed Schopenhauer to express his views on a wide range of subjects with cynical wit and humor. From mythology and religion to women and suicide, the essays kept me entertained all evening. More importantly, it gave me some alternative insights into happiness, individualism, and my expectations in life.
Schopenhauer wrote that before we can appreciate others, we must first appreciate solitude and being alone. He also explained that we must understand ourselves, our nature, and our limits before other people can understand us. Similarly, we must also keep realistic expectations of ourselves and others. These are some of the ways that we can reduce the frustration and suffering in our lives. However, Schopenhauer also noted that a life without challenges can often lead to boredom, nihilism, and depression. While we should not look to make our lives complicated, we should strive for those things that give our lives meaning and purpose. When reading these essays, I eventually realized that I wasted a lot of time and energy over not being invited to a party. Nevertheless, I ended up having a great evening and was happy that I discovered Schopenhauer’s writings.
I have never found a philosopher or school of thought that I have completely agreed with, and Schopenhauer is no exception. Schopenhauer thought that we should not seek or expect happiness in life. As a person who has always valued optimism and positive thinking, Schopenhauer’s pessimism has been a hard pill to swallow. While I do not agree with all of his views, Schopenhauer’s insights have reminded me to balance my ego and my expectations when dealing with other people. Being invited to a party or an event feels great, but it is not the end of the world if I am not invited to some events or disliked by certain people. Some things are just not meant to be. If I went to that birthday party this week, I would have never discovered the hedgehog’s dilemma or learned that the devil’s laughter can be heard after copulation (Schopenhauer’s words, not mine).
Despite all the fun I had partying with metal bands in my 20s, the last few years in the Dissident Right have been some of the best times of my life. I have made a lot of great friends who have started to form their own networks and communities. Maintaining these connections will require a lot of time, effort, and dedication. Although nothing beats real-life events and interactions, we now have the technology to easily hold conference calls and online events. If possible, take the time to reach out to someone in our community that you have not heard from in a while. With any luck, they might invite you to their next event. Maybe I will see you there. Whether I am drinking at a bar with friends or streaming from my mom’s basement, I always enjoy being the life of the party.
Invitation or not.
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