All my life, I’ve had one quest. A quest so deep that it was unspoken, almost unrealized.
I’m simply looking for that person who “has it all together.” The person who knows how to “do” Life perfectly. The person who knows “how should we then live” and actually pulls it off. The person with all their ducks in a row. A serene, cool, calm, collected, right person.
Perhaps it comes from the fact that I am definitely not that person. I may try to look like I have it all together (which for me usually means, “Look! I’m actually wearing nail polish. Can you believe it!?”) but I’m really just a high-strung bundle of nerves and OCD.
Perhaps it comes from years and years of idolizing my confident-acting narcissist. Hanging on his every word. Worshiping the ground he walked on…then losing my “idols” when I realized it was they who were the problem, not I, their scapegoat!
Whatever the cause of my quest, I’ve yet to find the person I seek.
Sometimes I think I’ve actually discovered that All-Together person. But it never lasts. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!
Here’s a classic example. If anyone projects confidence, it’s Chef Michel Roux Jr. pictured above with his father Albert Roux OBE. (Forgive my culinary passion cross-polinating with my narcissism passion once again!) You may know Michel as a past judge on Masterchef. Firm but kind, Chef Roux exudes confidence from every pore. Perhaps, thought I, he has all his ducks in a row. He certainly seems like it.
How wrong can a girl get!?
As always, when observing a person, look first at their family. Oy vey! What a family! They may be the much celebrated and even knighted family who brought haute cuisine to the British isles when they opened their once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list restaurant Le Gavroche but with patriarchs of that much power and control, it can be extremely difficult to step out of their shadow to become “your own man.”
Michel was thirty-three before his father stepped down, allowing him to take the reins of Le Gavroche. Instantly, the Michelin Guide removed one of Le Gavroche’s stars and Michel has never been able to earn it back.
Making his own mark on the culinary world has also proved difficult for Michel with longtime diners at La Gavroche grumbling, “Your Dad would never have cooked it that way.”
Although he may be gray and wrinkled now, Michel still makes it very clear that he prefers not to have his celebrated father and uncle, Michel Sr, peering over his shoulder, creating sparks and clashing with each other. In the Roux Scholarship video from 2018, Michel Jr mentioned it yet again: “My father and uncle still like to meddle occasionally. Stick their noses in. Tell us what to do….Albert, that’s my dad, the short fat one…I can say that because I know the walking stick isn’t that long. He can’t get me from there. I love you dad.”
If a two-star Michelin chef can’t step out from under his father’s long shadow…who can!?! He’s still my favorite celebrity chef with an infectious giggle, but if Michel doesn’t have it all together…then no one does.
We non-narcissists are fine with humbly admitting that we don’t have it all together. No matter how hard we try, there’s always a thread hanging from our hem, a pearl missing from our strand.
Narcissists? Not so much. They consciously put themselves up on a pedestal and insist that we see them thusly. For three decades, my father was up on a pedestal in my mind enforced by the pseudomutality in our family. When I married, I tried to transfer that hero worship to my husband.
That didn’t work at all. Michael distinctly did not want my hero worship. And with psuedomutuality gone, I couldn’t keep him on a pedestal anyways because like all couples we don’t agree on everything and have different ways of thinking and doing things and that’s okay.
You find me someone who’s obsessed with appearing perfect at all times and I’ll show you someone who is more insecure than most of us and/or a narcissist.
The older I get, the more I realize that no one has it all together. Not me, not you…no one. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s oddly comforting.