For your weekend, here’s a reflection on what Alain de Botton considers to be the root of all status anxiety, from his 2004 book of that title. He begins by explaining that our never-ending search for love drives our hungry pursuit of status, and in turn that this love-search is only really half-acknowledged:

status-anxiety10“Every adult life could be said to be defined by two great love stories. The first—the story of our quest for sexual love—is well known and well charted, its vagaries form the staple of music and literature, it is socially accepted and celebrated. The second—the story of our quest for love
from the world—is a more secret and shameful tale. If mentioned, it tends to be in caustic, mocking terms, as something of interest chiefly to envious or deficient souls, or else the drive
for status is interpreted in an economic sense alone. And yet this second love story is no less intense than the first, it is no less complicated, important or universal, and its setbacks are no less painful. There is heartbreak here too.”

What’s particularly funny isn’t that we’re so easily dejected by the small forgetfulnesses of others; if anything, it’s that being remembered can so
equally build us back up.

“Our ‘ego’ or self-conception could be pictured as a leaking balloon, forever requiring the helium of external love to remain inflated, and ever vulnerable to the smallest pinpricks of neglect. There is something at once sobering and absurd in the extent to which we are lifted by the attentions of others and sunk by their disregard. Our mood may blacken because a colleague greets us distractedly or our telephone calls go unreturned. And we are capable of thinking life worth living because someone remembers our name or sends us a fruit basket.”