The most special things are the things that don't really belong anywhere but here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Is snobbery real?

Note: I don’t actually answer this question.

I’m a girl and most of my friends are girls. Over the years, I’ve heard this: “I don’t like so and so because she’s a snob” or “she thinks she’s better than every one else.” I know a lot of girls who can’t be friends with other girls because they’re all “snobs.” Nine times out of ten, the snobbery accuser is actually too insecure and competitive to be friends with other girls and she is really just displacing her feelings upon the said snob. It makes me really sad when girls shut each other out like this, because they might be missing out on some great friendships.

I have no problem being friends with girls who stand up for themselves, who speak their minds, or who know they’re pretty. There’s a difference between confidence and meanness, and we’re often taught that they are the same thing: they’re not. We should all take care of ourselves, speak our minds, and think we’re pretty, even if we’re actually ugly, and we should empower fellow girls to think the same way. Valuing yourself really doesn’t step on anyone else’s toes—I could go on and on about where THAT comes from, but one tangent at a time.

Over the years, I’ve really thought about what “snobbery” means, and so many different things spring to mind. Here’s a story for you: the summer I was 15, I went on vacation with my friend Sarah. Her cousin was there, and we butted heads. One day, after a petty argument, he told me, “You think you’re so much better than everybody else. You’re not even a member of this family.”  I replied, “Well, thanks for telling me who I am. I really needed to know.” Zing!

That night at dinner, Sarah’s mom was praising me for how I handled the situation. Everyone seemed impressed that I didn’t break down and cry. The reason why what the boy said didn’t bother me was because secretly, I felt I had been greatly complimented. I was so self-conscious at school that I never spoke. One time in choir, a girl asked me, “Do you ever talk?” I was about to respond with something witty and cutting, like, “No, never. What am I doing now?!” But then I thought, what if she’s not ACTUALLY speaking to me? I’ll feel so stupid! So I didn’t say anything. Actually, now that I think about it, that silent response is pretty funny.
On vacation, thinking I'm better than everyone.

The point is, everyone that I saw on an average day knew that I most definitely did not think I was better than anyone, especially the kid who would come up to me in the hall, clamp his hand on my shoulder and say, “Turn that frown upside down!” (I never knew how to make my face. Are you being nice or making fun of me? And more importantly, who ARE you?!)

So, for a fellow teenager to tell me to my face that I thought I was better than everyone meant that he saw me as a snob, not a loser, not an insecure weirdo, but a snob. Snobbery implied confidence and entitlement to good things. I had no problem with that label.

Let’s jump ahead to high school. There was this annoying girl in one of my classes, Peggy, who would talk to me all the time. I always seemed to attract annoying people because I was a safe person to talk to, and maybe because they could tell that despite the fact that I felt I was a miraculous human being, I simultaneously felt inferior to everyone. And maybe they could also tell that despite the fact that I didn’t like them, I did like them. I liked them in the same way that Jesus liked them. People are interesting, even the irritating ones. Anyway.

Peggy was looked at by everyone as a snob. She had no friends and turned her nose up at everything. One day, I was listening to her go on and on about something dumb, and then she said, “When I was little, I wished I was a boy so my dad would like me.” I was like, what??? Tell me more, please. Suddenly, Peggy was fascinating, and so became her snobbery. Because what did it actually mean? The stupid things she said became fascinating. The way she folded her arms and glared at other people became fascinating. And that’s when I decided that I really did like her, and not just in a Jesus kind of a way, and I vowed to stand up for her the next time my friends sat around and complained about her at someone’s birthday party.

Usually, “real” snobbery comes from thinking that you’re above something. And certain types of snobbery really do bother me. Snobbery pertaining to art is one of them. I don’t like it when academics or hipsters say, “This type of writer doesn’t matter” or “this type of movie doesn’t matter” or “this type of music doesn’t matter” or “I just bought an iPad.” GOOD FOR YOU. If I like something, I like something. Let me like it. Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter.

I also don’t like faux snobbery, which you can find most often in pre-teens or wives of baseball players who grew up wishing to someday become a Bratz doll. I call it faux snobbery because it’s just an identity they’ve attached themselves to to make up for the fact that they have nothing in their brains. It’s meaningless, and it’s boring, and it’s not even worth examining.
Please go away.

But sometimes, it’s okay to think you’re better. Sometimes, it’s good. Like when I’m driving down a certain street on the way to a certain place, and I’m looking around at the medical marijuana store and the low-riding, rusting cars and the people shuffling around with their shirts over their bellys, and I’m just like, “Y’all are gross.” That’s a GOOD thought to have, okay? Because if I didn’t have it, I’d probably rent one of the nasty apartments near by, get a disease, get sucked into gang life, and die.

Sometimes, what they call “snobbery” can get you through a rough time. Back in 2007, I worked at Target. One morning, as soon as I got to work, I knew it was going to be a bad day. It felt almost out of my control, otherworldly. A series of things happened, but the worst came while I was working the cash register and a man came up to me and asked for an extra bag. I gave it to him, even though he clearly didn’t need it. Did he try to put stolen goods in that bag? Yes, he did. (I was always a target at the cash registers, that day especially because I made the  mistake of putting my hair in pig tails to surround my gee-whiz face.)

In the middle of my 8 hour shift, the young woman I was working with, who had eyes like Lord Voldemort, took me up to the office and formally told me that I was being “pre-fired.” I wasn’t being fired, but if there were problems again, I would be fired. I was distraught. I wasn’t good at putting crap on shelves?! Swimming in the sting of injustice, I went back on the floor to finish the second half of my eight hour shift.
May I help you find something?

I remember walking up to a guest standing near the laundry detergent and asked, “May I help you find something?” The woman looked at me and said, “No, I’m fine. How are you?” This was very strange; usually people just said “No thanks.” After a few minutes, she asked me if I was a student. I said that I wasn’t, but I was planning on moving to New Mexico in the fall to work on my Master’s, which she greatly approved of.

Getting to this point in the conversation felt even more otherworldly than the force that was determined to turn my day into a crap fest. It was like something was telling me not to worry about Ms. Voldy because she would probably die working at Target and I was going to further my education. I’m not sure if it was God, but maybe it was one of God’s friends, like a really snobby angel. This thought kept me going through the rest of the 8-hour shift and the weeks leading up to my last days there.

So, in conclusion, sometimes what we label as snobbery is actually confidence, or a mask for insecurity, or the knowledge that we need to push ourselves out of where we don’t belong. Is that even what I said? What did I just say?

I could say so much more about all of this, but I’m too good to keep sitting here writing to you. I have so many important things to do. But I want to know what you think about snobbery. Is it real, like really real? Have you ever found snobbery to be a helpful tool in your own life? And am I naive to think that most girls really aren’t bitches? Please share.

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