I’m having a road-to-Damascus moment. (A bit odd, given that today one of my MBA colleagues really is on the road back to Damascus. But that’s irrelevant.) I woke up at 1pm with a fading hangover, and I’m blogging this while it’s fresh.
In the shower yesterday, just before heading to the end-of-term party, a crushing realisation – one of those experiences so real you just know it’s true – hit me.
I am a bad person.
I’m a bad person because I’ve never needed to be good.
First in the advertising business, then the money-obsessed rat race of London, I’ve spent my life surrounded by assholes. Maybe the only times I haven’t are the times I’ve travelled: teenage backpacking across the USA, journeys of self-discovery across Asia and Australia, the deserts of north Africa under a searing sky. And those times I travelled mostly alone.
When you’re surrounded by assholes, you never notice you’re an asshole yourself.
But for three months now I’ve lived and worked with an eighty-strong new crowd, my MBA cohort. And they’re good people. Even the worst of them is better than me (well, there’s one worse). People who’ve made huge sacrifices to better themselves and improve their lives. People with energy and talent, and the fundamentally positive nature that’ll let them use it to make the world better: building businesses, improving organisations, developing individuals. Good people.
And I realise now that I’m a bad person. Arrogant, impatient, irritable, dismissive and contemptuous, and those are my better traits.
I spend party night quiet and contemplative, downing glass after glass after glass of white for a solid six hours.
I think I possibly mentioned the fact I’m a bad person to one or two people. I must have bored them shitless. (It’s a good job I didn’t corner any of them for lengthy conversations or anything.)
Last night was also our last night with the Mannheimers: MBA exchange participants from a German school, and they were the coolest clique in the cohort. Bye friend Fernando, may your scooter never stop. Bye Maina, kooky and beautiful. Bye Katsu, from whom a single sentence could have the cohort collapsing in laughter. Bye the other Fernando; I never knew you well. Bye Tuan, you bicultural brainbox. Bye Sasha, bye Olivia, bye Irina and Tatjana. Bye Allen. It was good to know you all.
I’m a bad person.
But in 2008 I’m going to try really, really hard to be good.