A new friend last week started a discussion about humility. An amazing acrobat, afraid to feed vainly from his own image reflected by crowds of admirers. His sincere dilemma touched me. Here was my answer:

“Humility is like a yard stick that you cut in half each time you get better at it. But you always are left with a piece. The moment you decide:
“OK, that’s it: this piece is too small for me to cut it again. I am now humble”, you are back to square one with a full yard stick, proven full of yourself.

“I am humble” just does not exist.

Being humble is, in fact, an impossible puzzle to solve for yourself. The mind does funny things, let it rest. Let the world and your audience worry about it for you. Give it up now. And get on with your mission”.

Indeed, humility now sounds too much like humidity for me; dusty skeletons of ancestors telling you to stay small, or worse yet, to pretend that your are small. The overt or secret dream of recognition is in all of us; it belongs to our instincts: Man does not survive alone in Nature. We are just not that kind of breed. Being appreciated means that the tribe will keep you protected instead of ignoring you on the outer ring… for predators to feed off of you. This is a serious thing. This inner need to be recognized and appreciated, at a peaceful dose, is not vanity. Let’s be kind to ourselves and accept that once in a while, we may sound like the kindergarten sweety loudly showing off its newly learned dance. A combination of both gregarious and self preservation instincts!

But if you still have worries about “to be or not to be humble”, you may only need this distinction: obnoxiousness is not the opposite of humble. It comes from the desire to compensate from the feeling of not being able to please or to love oneself. Brash behavior is more the opposite of shyness. You either silence yourself, from fear of making a fool out of yourself; that is being shy; or you make noise and fail to receive your share of reassurance that you belong, that is being brash or obnoxious.

On my next blog, I will show you how shy people are… full of themselves…!