Growing up in a small town, I was bused to a neighboring city to attend middle school. Individuals that lived in the larger city did not care for the individuals from my small town, because it was assumed that we came from money and would be conceited. Many of the students from the city did all in their power to destroy the confidence of those from my small town. In the eighth grade name brands became popular, and so did a thing called the tag test. This is where a person would walk behind someone wearing name brand clothing and pull out their shirt tag to see if the shirt was authentic.
Not all of the students of my school participated in this but, many of the students that did were of the same race as those whose tags they pulled, but of lower socioeconomic statuses. They did not appreciate the small town students coming in and pushing them further down in social rankings. The small town students having anything more than the city students was seen as an act of denigration. Many of the opportunities that the small town students had to transcend the social totem pole were met with acts of aggressive sabotage. The goal was to never allow the small town students a chance to get out of the barrel.
This same crab in a barrel mentality has followed many of us from the school yards into board rooms, internships, social media, and the like. If I can’t do it, neither can you. If I can’t purchase it, neither can you. If I can’t achieve it, neither can you. With every jab, those crabs pull each other further and further down into the barrel with such efficiency that no one makes it out.
The sad part is no one is exempt from displaying these sorts of crab like behaviors. Your peers can pull you back, your colleagues, friends, even your own mother. You may notice some of the following crabby behaviors from them:
Setting a low standard for you
Making shady comments about your goal
Creating an unspoken competition with you
Bringing up past mistakes you made
Outwardly comparing you to others not on your playing field
When a crab completes any of these or other stifling behaviors, they may dress it up as if they are doing it for your benefit. They may say that they are protecting you or showing you where you could stumble. Protect yourself at all costs from people like this. Those that say what they want but never do anything to achieve their dreams. Don’t be afraid to draw boundaries or even cut them out of your life if need be. Remember that you are so important that you should protect yourself at all costs.