Every now and then I’m awfully pleased with myself. Usually following praise. Direct or indirect. I feel smug and certainly rather big-headed when an intellectual capacity is acknowledged. When I think about it, I really only ever get like that, when my intelligence is praised (in whatever small form).
If my work is acknowledged I shrug my shoulders and say: of course. I’m here to work, might as well do a good job. Personal pride and a strong work ethic wouldn’t allow me anything else.
When my writing is praised, or my “talent” for it, I blush and mumble thanks not believing a word. But my writing doesn’t come from my intellect. It may be aided by it, but it’s not coming from there.
It’s my intellectual side that is arrogant, cynical, acerbic at times, unkind (to a degree anyway), judgmental, impatient, analytical, rational, reasonable and critical.
It’s not all bad, but some aspects of this part of my personality I feel the need to control, reign in and ensure that I’m not callous, mean, vain and, yes, big headed. I’d be insufferable. And I wouldn’t have any friends. But if I were like that, I’d neither need nor want them.
I will, for a moment, relish the praise given, smile knowingly to myself, but if someone were to ask, I wouldn’t tell why I smiled. I will not heap praise on myself and brag about receiving it. It’s a small guilty pleasure that I allow myself to enjoy for just that moment in which it happens.
I don’t want to feed the arrogant monster lurking somewhere in the depths. She’s there and I know I could let her loose and it wouldn’t be pretty. It would have to be a very deliberate thing for me to do, though.
I don’t think that I am even able to commit to being an arrogant bitch for as much as an entire day. I wouldn’t be able to stand myself. I can let her out, if need be, but I don’t think I’d relish it, not for long anyway.
I much prefer to be generous and kind. Oddly enough, though, not because I want to be liked by others. I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I don’t care for most people’s opinions. That may be the arrogant, self-sufficient part of me speaking, but it’s true nonetheless.
I care about a few people’s opinions, but they’re friends and family and know me well enough. And it is their praise and acknowledgment that I take for what it is without getting a big head. It will give me pleasure, but it somehow is a totally different kind.
I want to be a good person, whatever that entails, because I like myself better that way, it makes the world a better place and if I can leave it better than I found it, I won’t have been here for nothing. Whatever the meaning of life, it’s up to each of us to make something of it. This is my choice: don’t be a jerk.
Nobody would know how I feel about any of this unless I choose to tell them. I don’t think I’ve ever actually told anyone any of this. Maybe it’s just me “revealing” one of my secrets.
But I’ve thought about this every now and then lately and today I decided to put my thoughts on paper, so to speak.
To what end?
Because, at the end of the day, I’m not taking myself too seriously. I can’t. I absolutely have the capacity to and probably enough ambition to use it, but I don’t want to. A friend, the smartest man I ever met, once told me that maybe I should consider politics as a career. He even said he could set me up with some people.
I considered it for five minutes and declined.
Do you want to know why I considered it? Because I thought it would be an interesting challenge. And a part of me thought that I could probably pull it off. But it would’ve meant selling out the rest of me, all the parts that I like much better.
I know some of my friends think I’m great. I appreciate them thinking that, but whenever someone tells me, I think to myself: nope, not that great. Not at all. I know better.
What does that even mean? There are different kinds of greatness. I don’t presume to achieve even one kind.
For all my faults and flaws, I do find that I like myself. The combination of all the bits and pieces that compose the whole of me isn’t so bad. That’s probably why some people perceive me as a great person. But you can only do that by looking at and knowing just one side of them. Usually the side they let you see.
I don’t show the side of me that I don’t like. Not often, not for long and certainly not repeatedly. If I meet a certain kind of person, they will call me out on it and even though I would never admit it to their face, I am quietly grateful.
It hurts to hear it from others, though. Sometimes it makes me angry. I pretend to be angry at them, but really I’m angry with myself. Because I let myself down.
Nobody has higher standards for me than I. Nobody could have higher expectations.
I tend to let myself of the hook eventually, because I’m human, and we slip, slide and fall and all we can do is pick ourselves up again and take better care next time. It’s part of becoming human.
Have I gone far enough with this? Maybe, but I could possibly go further. Dig deeper.
For now, though, I’m good. I think I’ve given you a bit of a better picture.
Just for the record, I do know my positive traits as well. But those were not the subject today and for all intents and purposes never will be.
I don’t brag. (And if you don’t get that I am being cheeky here, sod off. There, arrogant again.)