Very Secure

Humility, Self-Respect

The past ten weeks at DCU1 have both humbled me and increased my self-respect. Gaining self-respect while being humbled may sound contradictory. When someone is humbled they are made aware of their lower status. Self-respect comes from valuing oneself. So it would seem natural to lose self-respect when one is humbled. But if one does not have a real assessment of themselves, and instead their confidence comes from a distorted self-view, then they do not have self-respect at all. There is an aspect of self-respect hidden in the etymology. It is the ability to self-re-spect, as in look at oneself again. If you have confidence based on reality then self-respect is easy. If confidence is built on false premises then self-respect is difficult, because the moment you actually look at what's in the mirror you will break that flimsy confidence.

When I started at DCU, I produced an article titled What I Find Worthy of My Time. I tried to be humble with the content, but only barely, and nothing could make up for that pretentious title anyways. Pretentious is another word worth examining. I thought it meant "full of oneself" but that is not its meaning. American Heritage Dictionary gives the definition,

Claiming that or behaving as if one is important or deserving of merit when such is not the case: a pretentious socialite.2

I was claiming I found the time I spent valuable in order to signal my (false) sense of importance.

Weekly schedules and reviews revealed the title's foolishness. What I find worthy of my time? My eod/weekly reports said: anything! Week after week I had to admit "well.. I was going to get that done but then a surfpal came over..." or "I planned to surf for only 15 hours this week but really it was more like 30 hours..." Diana Coman told me she gathered I did not value myself too highly. Upon examination this made sense. If I valued myself, then why would I be so willing to give up time to other people or base activities? Clearly, I did not believe in my capability to use my time wisely. My actions showed I valued the dopamine kick of riding waves for a few hours higher than what I figured I could get done in the equivilant time.

Thankfully the problem of undervaluing my work is fading away. Sometimes there are setbacks, yesterday I spent over 30 minutes believing there was something wrong with my new computer because I didn't press the on button. When I waste time like that, man do I want to just start paddling for some waves. But often only a few minutes of work leads to a major life improvement. A one hour grammar study session cleared up a misunderstanding I've had for years about a large category of phrases in Spanish. Finding where to get a mosquito net will improve my sleep for the next nine months. I figured out a plan to get my fleet of bots connected to freenode with a spare fifteen minutes. These gains that occur from small effort make me question myself anytime I think it's a good idea to wander away from my desk.

Going forward I would like my writing to portray an accurate self-view that demonstrates both humility and self-respect. This is a challenge since it is easy to come off as either pretentious3 or unnecessarily meek. The best way to accomplish my goal is not to focus on what words to use while writing, but rather to do good work every day. Then I can publish self-respecting, humble pieces by just writing about what I do.

  1. []
  2. This is the first definition of three. The other two are:

    Showing or betraying an attitude of superiority: made pretentious remarks about his education.
    Marked by an extravagant or presumptuous outward show; ostentatious: a pretentious house.


  3. For example I wrote another article titled Candidate components for whaack's first build. The wording implies I am some authority on the matter surveying my options, which was not the case. []

One Response to “Humility, Self-Respect”

  1. Diana Coman says:

    In fewer words: get over yourself, yes. Focus on what you do, do it well and then write about it, as simple as that.

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