The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Before we begin, I would like to correct 2 common misconceptions.
One: All fires can be blown out. Perhaps it’s our shared experience with birthday candles, but regardless we are taught from a young age that blowing on a flame will put it out. This is quickly debunked when we try to fan out kitchen fires or watch the effects of shoddy electrical work and high winds ravage forests across the country.
And two: Spite is a bad thing. I will concede that it has a bad reputation, typically associated with malice or bitterness. Most people consider spite a hot-headed substitute for more sustainable and desirable motivators.
Spite is written off as a candle, burning hot until a gust of wind blows out, leaving behind nothing but a little smoke.
I must admit that I too fell victim to this perception of spite. More recently, however, I consider a quote by Sam Kean to be a far better assessor of the word: “Never underestimate spite as a motivator for genius.”
There exist people in my life, primarily men, who believe my motivations are too rooted in being spiteful. The way I speak openly and unapologetically about gender and sexuality is just because I know it’ll get a rise out of certain people. My interest in computer science is just because I want to claim the title of being a woman in STEM. I exercise because I want to prove to the trainers who told me to go down in weight that I’m stronger than they think. I’m doing it all just to spite a world that tells me “no”.
Spite is a wildfire, not a candle. The more someone tries to blow it out, the more it won’t let anything stand in its way.
“You’re going to major in computational psychology out of spite?” Yes. “You’re going to hold hands in public with your girlfriend out of spite?” Yes. “You’re going to pursue the highest level of education and achieve the highest possible position in your field, all out of spite?” Yes. Why not? Why should anyone care what I or anyone else uses to drive them? Motivation is motivation. If you’re driven by something, ride the high for as long as it takes you. As a woman, simply existing with rights in this world will be considered by some to be spiteful. You will have no shortage of people telling you that you shouldn’t do something. Better yet, there will be no shortage of people telling you that you can’t.
That’s not to say spite should stand alone as motivation. A sense of intrinsic self-fulfillment and a desire to make the world a better place are among my chief personal motivators. Spite just always seems to help me go the extra mile, push a little farther than I ever thought I would go. I don’t consider myself an especially bitter or maliceful person for letting the bitterness and malice of others drive me to achieve great things. It’s a utilization of an undesirable resource, using the momentum of those against me to my advantage.
I’m proud of who I am and am excited to see what I will accomplish. I reserve the right to shift the particulars of my goals, but I know that there will be no shortage of obstacles standing between me and the future I hope to achieve. These obstacles don’t scare me, they drive me. The more I accomplish, the more people I’ll inevitably prove wrong. After all, if someone is going to tell me I can’t do something, the least I can do is set the world on fire.