#30BeforeThirty No.3: Letting Myself Be Great
False humility is the enemy of success. At least in my case. Sure, it’s not as obvious as procrastination or ill-preparedness, but it’s up there. And when I say “humility” I’m not talking about the virtuous opposite of pride (though more on that in a minute). I’m talking about the “you don’t know you’re beautiful” nonsense that many of us (mainly women) are tricked into thinking is a requirement for being liked. You know, the kind of humility we all feel the need to put on, like a shirt, so as not to intimidate others or not come across like a prick? The kind that gets in the way of our progress because we are too worried about how people might react if we just fucking smash it? Yeah, that.
I first remember hearing about actual humility in church when I was a teenager. It was held up as a golden virtue, the opposite of sinful pride. Humility: “The quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance.” While I agree that too much pride can be a terrible thing, I’m not sure I like the idea of humility as the dictionary defines it. And, no shade to the church but the emphasis placed on this personality trait crippled my sense of self and my capabilities quite a bit. When I would do something well, I would play it down; upon receiving a compliment, I would shrug it off, scared to accept praise for fear I would be infected by devilish pride. Eventually, it got to the point that I stopped putting myself forward for things, or would let others surpass me because I was scared to say, “Actually I think I could do that better.” or “I’m really good at this.” It got so bad that it crossed over into my self-esteem - I’d been playing down my strengths so much that I forgot what they were. I started to think I wasn’t good at anything at all. You can imagine how difficult things like job applications and interviews got. “Name your 3 greatest strengths.” Errrrm…
So, half the battle has been figuring out what I’m good at, and now that that’s sorted, the other half is letting myself be good at those things outside the confines of my own home. What is it that’s getting in my way? Perhaps I’m worried that people will like me less if I come across as overconfident. One of the things I like the least about myself is that I care a great deal what people think about me. But what I think it really is, is that if you say you can do something, people form expectations that you then have to live up to. So I suppose it’s a fear of failure, really, and embarrassment, perhaps? Regardless of what it is, though, one thing is for certain: while I’m frozen in this jumble of fear and false humility, I’m not achieving anything.
I’ve got goals - we all do - but there is something about the societal pressure that starts to build as you near thirty that really makes you evaluate where you’re at. I would very much like to transition from being an “aspiring…” to the actual dot dot dot and the only thing slowing me down is that I’m trying to be humble about it. I wonder what’s the worst that could happen if I went into every situation thinking - and saying - that I could nail it? Of course, I could fall on my face a few times, but couldn't that happen anyway? Why not walk into situations with a bit of confidence and swagger?
When I'm on my death bed, I won't be looking back on my life and saying "Thank goodness I showed all of that humility." will I? What great eulogy begins with "She was a meek and humble woman,"? Nope; hard pass. I want people to think of me and say "She was a boss bitch who mastered her craft and knew how to get what she wanted out of life." So brb, I'm off to try and make that happen.
Thank you for taking the time to read this most recent post in the #30BeforeThirty series. Please like, comment, subscribe if you liked what you read - or feel free to tell me if you didn't!
Next up: #4 Try Out A New Hobby - up on the blog Sunday 23rd December.