“Nowadays most men lead lives of noisy desperation.”

Still air hung like a wet blanket over the crowd as he patiently awaited their response to his joke. His fists, sweaty and cold, were clenched in anticipation of manic laughter. After all, the lead up was executed to perfection. Yet, despite his best effort, the wet blanket was never lifted. The vexatious silence didn’t last long, however, for normal conversation resumed as soon as he slid back into his chair in defeat. He lived for their laughter, and fought for it whenever he had the slightest of opportunities. Deriving comfort from attention may be an unrewarding pursuit, but it’s one he called his own. Attention fueled him, yet it also hollowed him. Once he had tasted the sweet milk of affirmation, he always craved for more. It was never enough – and sadly, it never would be. He would always try desperately, in a vain attempt to break the surface of his sea of sorrows. Alas, the water level would always rise faster than he ever will.

I was never really an avid attention-seeker, for I was, and still am, an introvert. I treasure quiet solstices, away from noisy summer, and remain reticent about my personal affairs. Therefore, in the race to be the most popular individual, I am very much a non-player. If there’s one thing that changed from when I was younger, it’s how aggressive my peers are in increasing their social standing. The passive stand that I take in the rat race that surrounds me thankfully allows for a more neutral point of view. It is only when you withdraw yourself from a fight, and view it from a distance, that you can truly appreciate its magnitude. Through my untainted lens, I see friends clamoring over one another, using each other as springboards towards their own social success. I hear slanderous words being exchanged in the shadows, hidden away from the truthful light of day. I taste the metallic tang of spilt blood, pouring incessantly from ruthless stab wounds.

I’m not one to sugarcoat my words, and there’s simply no word to describe the situation other than disgusting. Craving attention and affirmation is one thing, but to betray your own morals to acquire it – that’s entirely different. Does using someone as a mere stepping stone towards achieving your goals really make you a better person than them? Does the notion of being a God amongst men, with thousands of underlings at your feet really excite you? Pardon my distress, for I usually try to maintain a calmer tone whilst writing. However, this issue is of particular importance to me, as I was once a victim of the wretched acts described above.

Putting aside my inability to comprehend such individuals, let me offer up the insights I have acquired after a year in college. However clichéd it may sound, I’ve now fully understood the significance of quality over quantity. I’m glad to have found friends that truly are quality, and they’re the reason why I hang onto my own life so dearly. I’ve also realised that the only way to obtain elusive happiness is to be content with what you already have. And this is to my dearest friends, those whom my little heart treasures and beats for. Never worry, for I won’t ever trample over you for the sake of climbing a ladder that doesn’t exist. I won’t betray you, or spread falsities to curry flavor towards myself.  After all, men that chase this broken path would only ever find themselves arriving at one destination. Not the glorious throne that they had envisioned, but rather a stool of thorns that they’ll be forced to sit on for eternity. An excruciating, and everlasting reminder of their shameful past.