The human mind is construed to decide upon certain fundamentals, first of which is appearance and outlook of affluence or wealth either in looks, intellect, accessories and some other things you can think of. Yes, first impressions last longer, but is that an exclusively positive disposition? We shall find out.
Everything is a centrifugal representation of a deeper phenomenon. No matter how much you want to be simple, a deeper meaning lies in everything and such explanation or examination will almost certainly arouse an ‘it’s not that deep’ comment from people, but believe me; sometimes, it is.
One of those ‘not-so-simple’ concepts is one of how human beings create a standard and have expectations that aid pretence and fakeness, only to then complain about it. We have a subconscious standard we hold people to, so people who want to approach us, they adhere to that standard to soothe us and get their way, even if they have to lie about it.
A short story…
In February 2017, I quit Law Practice after a really short stint in what I think should be my last at a myopic or monofocal law firm. In no time, I got an interview at a multifaceted, private company in Ikoyi, Lagos. It suited my dreams and I was excited by my prospects; despite their request for a second class upper graduate and three-year experience of which I had neither, they still contacted me.
I got there and I spent a little over an hour with the HR Manager/Interviewer chatting on everything; from the most meaningful, substantiated topics to the most random topics on my computer literacy and back to the most analytical and evaluative — I never knew an interview could be that interesting.
Five minutes to the end, amidst some lighthearted chatter on pop culture and art critique, she explicitly told me I was at the top of her list and then requested my grade and degree. When I told her, the disappointment was evident on her face. She told me in concise terms, “Not having a 2:1 just knocked you out… How did not you have a 2:1? You seem so smart…”
Immediately, I was forced to ask her quite sardonically, “Does my grade really matter? Shouldn’t my capability which you can attest to supersede any vain demand for higher grades knowing that grading isn’t a level playing field across different types of Universities in Nigeria?”
“I know, but this company has a standard. I can only try and fight for you, but I can’t make any promises,” she said. I left the place with those words ringing in my head. I still remember them because as stoic as I might seem to many, I was scarred by them till God healed me. In some ways, that awakened me to the sad realities of employing grades over ability, promoting the premium on grades than on self-development.
While in a lot of cases, the person with the best grades will be the best, the grades will not always paint a picture of intelligence. The standard is just to make the job of recruiters and human resource Managers easy. In a way, it’s also reasonable as anyone can seem attractive on a CV, only to pee the bed during an interview session, but however reasonable the system seems, it robs people of opportunity because of bad grades.
It’s funny how nobody has thought of a world where Universities start churning out a lot of First Class and Second Class Upper students on a yearly basis — as private Nigerian Universities currently do — because they know good grades obtain and carry a premium on the labour market. No matter how bad or herculean the task is, recruiters must do better.
When the labour market is saturated with good grades and qualifications, maybe we would all get sane.
Fast forward; January 2018…
After a stint at a USAID funded project, I got an interesting offer in Abuja; nothing major, but the prospects were interesting. Despite taking a slight pay cut, I moved. There, I was open to an almost different world of vanity, lies, and deception as part of everyday life from people I came across.
Everyone wanted to seem more than his means, so they labour to position themselves as opulent and spendthrift to attract opportunities. Anytime I go to Transcorp, I see an assortment of clandestine pretence from people who go there to get noticed by the rich. They make fake calls, order drinks and food they cannot afford, and get spaces that drain their humble accounts — grown men.
In truth, I don’t blame them. If they looked like themselves, their targets; the key holders to corridors of wealth, debauchery and power wouldn’t bat an eyelid at them. As such, I used to avoid the place like a plague unless my Ukrainian colleague, Nidal gravely needed me.
Should being yourself not be enough?
The advent of both scenarios is the painful subscription by humanity to perception and not a test for substance — which should be the target. We prefer when they look good without actually caring whether they are actually good even when they don’t look good.
It’s why on social media, girls pursue opulent-looking guys in droves only to sell these guys ‘a canoli’ and come back to cry blue murder. It’s why a Twitter guy is attracted to any seeming intellectual female without testing her substance — especially when she’s beautiful. It’s a sad torrent of events; a tidal malformation of outcomes that continue to rid the world of substantiated humans.
It’s one of the reasons why wealth remains within the top 1% of the world because access is easily granted to bloodlines that can afford the price of wealth.
Sometimes it pains me how people can’t examine people — or maybe feel they can’t afford to examine people like recruiters who fear the time and effort it will require to actually test people who might be good for the job but without the grades. Finding a diamond in the rough requires dealing with clutter.
Is it really true that what looks good is usually good and what doesn’t look tasty is usually bad?
I’m swayed to agree, but I think not. Despite strong evidence to the affirmative, life really isn’t that simplistic. While looking rich or having evidence of intellect seems persuasive for judgment, the argument isn’t absolute and chances should be given to the unseemly.
I don’t claim perfection, but I’d like everyone at least give chances of success to people who don’t seem or look like they deserve it to aid chance creation, diversity, less stiff ideals and cut fakeness a bit.
We shouldn’t be so driven by an outlook that attracts endorsement that people feel the need to be vain and put in extra effort to seem worthy.
In the end, not everyone will think as I do — I grew up in a working-class family. Maybe I just have a pipe dream.