Can I get my parking validated for my ego?
Recently I took part in a discussion on a forum regarding confidence vs. arrogance. The question was asked as to where one becomes the other. At what point do we take what is merely confidence in who we are, in our abilities, and let them run untethered into the territory of arrogance? Where do we reach the point where taking pride in what we do acquires the adjective of sinful?
My intention here is not to deconstruct and reexamine the difference between the two, what sets one apart from the other. What I want to examine here is my belief in what gave birth to the question in the first place. As I illustrated in my post on self esteem in subculture there seems to be this insidious dampening of our own self-confidence through our upbringing. We are encouraged to take on humility, meekly shuffling our toe in the dirt with head hung abashedly when being acknowledged for our accomplishments.
There seems to be no middle ground where self-confidence can live and breathe. Outwardly acknowledging the positive aspects of ourselves has seemed to be prohibited by social zoning laws, gentrified by the surrounding properties inhabited by arrogance and humility. Self confidence is often told it must choose between one of these two parties, lest it throws its vote away.
As a result, we spend our time shuffling through our lives seeking validation and credit from everyone but ourselves. A vote of confidence for ourselves is considered null and void, yet confidence is what we need to move successfully through our social environment. However, as we pile on all the accolades and praise dealt to us by all others, it can never be truly incorporated into the DNA of our identity without our own belief in our own true value. Once the positive props from those living outside our skin fall away, we are once again left with a homeless ego, starving for sustenance and begging for handouts simply to keep itself alive.
This was the very issue that led to my true intentions buried in good intentions, as outlined in my most recent post. Although the action I had taken to clean up a bit of litter was certainly an act of goodness, I needed to have my good Samaritan card stamped by those in my immediate environment. If I was to consider myself a good person it would be pending prior approval. It was as if no one had learned I had disposed of the litter on the street, it would have invalidated the value of my efforts.
Irving Thalberg had said “Credit you give yourself is not worth having”, and his quote is often used to prop up the paradigm of humility. But if we do not give ourselves credit for our own value, for all the good in our hearts, for the beauty of who we are, does our value in the eyes of others merely become a costume, a disguise? Perhaps we do need to receive the credit from ourselves. Without a foundation of confidence we build for ourselves, all the attaboys we receive from everyone else simply creates for us a facade that would collapse with the first hint of duress. The confidence we provide to ourselves is of the greatest value, the praise and approval we receive from others becomes merely a bonus, a fringe benefit, rather than the actual substance of self-confidence.