Them: You’re amazing.
Me: Oh, I’m regular degular.
Them: You’re so smart.
Me: No, I just know how to follow directions.
Them: You’re beautiful.
Me: Eh, not really (pulls up Instagram model). SHE’S beautiful.
These are typical conversations I have when people try to compliment me. I’m not good at accepting compliments, I can admit it; I’m my harshest critic. I always thought this was a good thing, because it meant I was pushing myself to be greater and I’d never be described as arrogant. No way this could read as a personality flaw, right?
Well, that’s not what most people thought. For a big portion of my life, people told me I was too humble and I just always dismissed it. I figured people wanted me to boast and brag, but that’s just not me. However, I’ve recently been able to understand what people meant while reading Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, and Do Work That Matters by John Acuff.
The chapter goes on to explain how self-doubt is just as bad as arrogance. It helped me realize that I had been using humility to self-deprecate unchecked. Modesty is one thing, but constantly degrading your own value just isn’t healthy. It’s a thin line, but a crucial one. What you think and say will eventually result in actuality. Since reading Start, I have begun practicing giving myself credit without shame or guilt. Celebrating small successes on the way to being great isn’t arrogant; on the contrary, that self-acknowledgement is necessary to honest, sustainable progress.
Balance is important in all things.
That being said, I still don’t believe I’m too humble. I believe the definition of humility has been misconstrued. Humility is having a modest estimate of one own’s self-importance, NOT one’s self. I’ve known this definition by heart for three years, and still practiced humility incorrectly. I had been understating myself entirely and calling it humility, instead of valuing my unique self to the utmost with an appreciation for when others or other things were more important.
At the end of the day, I have learned, and am learning, that self-deprecation and self-doubt do not make us humble. Humility is a practice we must exercise on a daily basis. You can give yourself credit for the hard work you’ve done, the time you’ve put in, and the results you’ve been able to produce while remaining humble. It’s not a crime. It’s healthy.