I always thought of “nemesis” as someone who was more competition than anything. Someone who wants the same things I do, is going after them in the same sphere I am, and tends to get in my way.
Then I listened to the “Overconfidence: Hubris and Nemesis” episode the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast and my mind was really and truly blown! I realized that “nemesis” is something much more specific. It even has a myth attached! WHAT THINGS ARE STILL FOR ME TO LEARN.
Nemesis, according to GreekMythology.com is the goddess of divine retribution, and she focuses her wrath on those mortals who defy the gods in a fit of arrogance and hubris. She is the one who led Narcissus to the pool where. Wiley wench.
Even the word “hubris” has more a fascinating history than I realized. It is the Greek word for excessive arrogance in defiance of the gods. Not arrogance in defiance against man; specifically against the gods. Defiance against divine authority is the even that triggers a visit from Nemesis, to knock that defiant, arrogant, hubristic (hubritical?) mortal back down to earth.
In defying the gods, hubris signals that one thinks one is equal to the gods. One says one is not beholden to the demands of the gods, that instead one has the same kind of self-autonomy as the gods have over themselves.
With all this, I decided I wanted to figure out what my nemesis is. I don’t have the “gods authority” spiritual hangup I used to have, so what is it now? I asked myself:
How am I overconfident? Similarly, how am I insecure? What are the authorities I gleefully defy in deference to my own opinions? What obstacles or “beat downs” do I find myself consistently encountering or suffering?
Well, for one, it’s hard to really estimate how one is “overconfident.” Kind of by definition, in confidence I feel as though I am properly confident, even though realistically I am overly so. But, if I were to hazard a guess, I’d say that I am overconfident in my ability to get people to like me. I am pretty confident that I can charm anyone into enjoying my company, and generally into thinking me better than I actually am, in ways such as intelligence, reasonableness, calm, and success.
And of course this reveals my insecurity. Why would I want people to think I’m smarter than I think I am unless I am insecure about how smart I actually am? So perhaps my overconfidence is in my ability to obfuscate the realities of my own limitations.
What authority is that defying? I wonder how much of it is a defiance and how much of it is an acceptance. It’s kind of an acceptance of the social authority of weakness = bad, of the necessity of the individual to be all-competent, where “need” is associated with obstacle rather than natural. But it’s also defiance. I’m defying the authority of social expectations of honesty and complete authenticity.
And how do I get smacked down?! WHEN THE LIMITATIONS UDERWRITING MY OWN INSECURITIES MAKE THEMSELVES PRESENT. When others don’t “fall” for my (truly not meant to be manipulative or deceptive, but yet) charm and self-obfuscation.
So my nemesis is two. Nemeses? My nemesis is 1). my own insecurities. 2). those who recognize and articulate the personal limitations about which I am insecure.
This all ended up being much more abstract than I expected. Frankly, I kind of hoped to find a particular person who is my nemesis — that would have been more fun!
But… now that I think about it… my husband knows me and my limitations far better than, anyone else, including me. He also does not hesitate to tell me who I am, how he sees me. Sometimes it’s painful — sometimes he sees things in me that confirm some of my insecurities, that gives them reality (even though he is usually very tactful and kind, and may not even know what he’s doing when he says something!). Sometimes, however, it’s comforting — sometimes he tells me outright that my insecurity is lying to me and is unfounded.
Either way, he is impervious to my charms and delivers a “smack down” to my overconfidence and my insecurities.
MY HUSBAND IS MY NEMESIS. Thank goodness he is a very loving nemesis. I still might have to smother him in his sleep, though.