Yes, it is my long-awaited sequel to Everyone is a Camel.
And, to put it simply, people are crabs. But not in the way you might think.
You see, if you’ve ever read a self-help book in your life, there is going to be a section that is inevitably called the “crab mentality.” If you’ve never wandered into the self-help section (well, what a perfectly mentally balanced snowflake you are), then I’ll have to catch you up.
Okay, have you ever bought live crabs to boil and eat? (Sorry for the sadistic imagery, but it’s about to get a lot more uncomfortable.) The first and last thing you do is put them in a pot and, well, dinner is eventually served.
However, crabs aren’t as dumb as their other beach brethren. (I’m looking at you, seagulls.) Some crabs will figure it out. Some crabs will even figure it out before it’s too late, and sidle up the side of the pot to alley oop themselves over the edge. And they’d be safe and not boiled out of their skin. That is, if their friends weren’t crabs.
The fact is, if your fellow pot mates see that you are attempting to escape, they will pull you back in. Sound familiar? No, not from the huge seafood dinner you had last night. Does it sound familiar in your personal life? I thought so. Because everyone has a crab in their life. And everyone, at some point, is that crab.
And so I bet you’re wondering: Bailey, if every self-help book has this outlined for me, why are you dedicating an entire blog post to reminding me not to be a crab, to avoid falling prey to this mentality, and to stop bringing others down to my level to make myself feel better?
Well, I’m glad you asked, dear reader.
I’m bringing this up because we, in America, do not live in a proverbial melting pot, but in a crab pot. And undoubtedly, you are reading this and telling yourself, well, that’s not me. And maybe it isn’t all the time. Maybe you are genuinely happy about the fact that you could probably hold your gym instructor’s butt in one hand. Maybe you do have some enthusiasm for that one person who is living your exact dream life, but you know, who also gets to go to St. Lucia on the weekends. And if this is you, if you secretly want your gym instructor to look a little more flabby so you can, you know, relate, or if you secretly want your friend to have their baggage unexpectedly lost en route to another gorgeous island, well, no one can really blame you. The crab mentality is sort of a part of the human condition. But there’s a better life out there, and you can rise above all that crabbiness, if and only if, you stop pulling people back into the pot.
Now, let’s look at the crab mentality in a less malicious way: do you do anything at all, anything at all, simply for someone else’s benefit? If you said yes, then nod with me and repeat: we are living in a crab mentality world.
And here’s why: when you repeatedly do something for someone else, and it’s not 100% to improve yourself or make yourself happy, there is going to be a time when that person isn’t going to be happy. No matter how hard you try. In the end, there’s always gonna be someone who has a pretty meaty claw, and who’s going to drag you back down into the pot without you ever realizing you had climbed out of it in the first place. Sometimes, we even pull ourselves down.
But no one can ever stop you from trying to get out again, and again, and again, until you make it. No one said you had to be someone else’s dinner.
Now, I’m hesitant to tell you to avoid being a soft-shell because there are some really wonderful attributes to being impressionable. I’m just trying to tell you that you need to believe in yourself so much that you become untouchable to outside criticism. People are going to want to see you get hot under the collar (boiled, even), but you can’t let them. Tell them to kiss your carapace. Butter yourself up, and try to treat yourself nicely. After all, that shell of yours is all the protection you have against the outside world. Come out of it on your terms.