What to do when people look down on you?

Ricardo Guaderrama Caraveo
4 min readFeb 8, 2020

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It’s no fun to feel you’re not enough, to feel you don’t belong, to feel as if you need to constantly compensate by acting nice or being whatever for whomever because who you are, is just not enough. Now, it’s a whole different thing when on top of having normal inferiority feelings as everyone else has, you have to deal as well with being discriminated against because of the color of your skin or your socioeconomic status. How would a Stoic act in any of these situations?

“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will. ”
Epictetus

The Stoic answer to this problem remains coldly equal: Seize worrying about what is not under your control and concentrate on what is, that’s where you power lies and the only true possibility of change for the better.

A story

I’m a mountain guide in Mexico City. I take people to the mountains and back. It’s a really fun job. I get to know people from all over the world and make new friends.

One time, I took a group of Norwegians to the mountains and had a driver to take us there and back. The driver was a regular Mexican guy, a fun fellow, had a good chat with him about his adventures as a chauffeur in Acapulco.

The interaction between this guy and the Norwegians was… weird. The Norwegians couldn’t care less about the driver. Similar to when you get on an Uber with a bad mood and careless about the Uber driver trying to talk to you about his entire life, you just put your earphones on and switch off. But the driver was deeply affected by them, he looked a bit intimidated. He was being extremely nice and of service, but it was just too much, to the point of being weird, like Dobby from Harry Potter. I mean, it’s fine for an elf to do that, but definitely not for a person. It feels false.

It wasn’t good for him either, because although his goal was obviously to be liked and appreciated for his work, he was being looked down on. It’s funny because, paradoxically, he put himself in that position. The problem was not the Norwegians…

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