Monday, September 25, 2006


, originally uploaded by lapinfille.

Quizzes that promise to tell you who you have been around forever.

There was a time in my life when I couldn't resist furtively checking off the little squares in magazines that promised to reveal whether I was an introvert or an extrovert, a Katharine Hepburn or a Grace Kelly, a woman destined to be adored, or one likely to spend hours on the phone crying with my girlfriends over what jerks men were.

Truthfully, I don't think those quizzes have ever told anyone anything they didn't already know. What they do offer is a chance to see yourself described in breezy upbeat terms. Or maybe a fleeting opportunity to be someone other than who you are. Someone more adventurous. Someone you might envision in a little black dress, holding forth with a martini glass in her hand.

In that sense, they are all narcissism quizzes; this particular quiz from the LA Times is just more direct about it. Given to a wide swath of people, including numerous celebrities, the conclusions were far from surprising.

Out of a possible 40, most people scored around 15. Celebrities scored higher; female celebrities even higher than that. And female contestants on reality TV shows were the reigning queens of narcisssm. Of course, it's hardly startling news that people who are constantly judged on their appearance and their visibility become obsessed with it.

Nor is it news that most narcissists are riddled with insecurity and doubt. It's plain hard work thinking about yourself all day.

So why was this decidedly un-glamourous blogger, sitting at her computer in her yoga pants and an old T-short taking the Narcissism Quiz, you might ask?

I wasn't exactly planning to, but then I caught sight of the sample questions and I got worried: Was I?

The first question asked if you thought you could do a better job of running the world.

Should be an easy answer for someone who never had political aspirations; and has spent most of her life slinging hash and writing poetry, but the way things are going now? I doubt I could do worse. In fact, maybe what the world needs is an honest waitress with a heart of gold to clean things up. (Insert sappy music here....)

Not wanting to ponder this budding Napoleon complex too long, I moved to the second sample: Do you think you're extraordinary?

Isn't everyone? I said out loud in my office, only a little defensive.

So okay, I had to take the quiz. If I'm as narcissistic as the women on reality TV, I might as well deal with it now.

The good news? I scored a 9. Way below average. I might even be the anti-narcissist!

The bad news? I'm now basking in narcissistic pride over my lack of narcissism.

Some days you just can't win.


Sustenance Scout said...

Patry, funny thing about this...I just read today that creative types are more likely to be highly self-critical than non-creative types. High-strung is probably another way to put that! So either you love yourself to pieces or you're always putting yourself down. I imagine most of us rank somewhere in the middle. Or, perhaps even more likely, those who reach the top creatively, whether by winning an Oscar or hitting the top of a bestseller list, are often driven to those heights by a relentless need to succeed despite self-perceived short-comings -- or because of them.

rdl said...

You are too funny! We just think too much period - does that make us worriers?? or intellectuals(?sp)
guess that answered itself. :D

Anonymous said...



The Curmudgeon said...

Do a better job running the world? That's damning yourself with faint praise, in light of current events.

I was tempted to take the quiz myself, but the link was inoperative when I tried it.

Patry Francis said...

Karen: Maybe that's why creative types are also more prone to addiction.

r: I was just thinking that taking a quiz on narcissism was probably a sign you are one in itself. So okay, I'm giving myself an extra point.

sara: I like it when you laugh. Ha.

curmudgeon: Sorry about the link. It was working last night. Seems the LA Times has a problem. (And so did blogger for most of the day--at least here.)

MB said...

How can the LA Times screw up right when I need to take that quiz? Really, of all the ineptitude! Anybody could run that show better than they do!

...Very funny, Patry! I'm only sorry I missed out on the quiz. And that you, too, have been plagued with Blogger woes.

Patry Francis said...

mb: I'll be looking for your name on the masthead of the la times tomorrow!
Thanks for making me laugh out loud.