I’ve always been entitled and spoiled, but I haven’t always admitted it. Too many people close to me told me I was special and capable of great things. I carried it with me. I used it as a pedestal. I used it as a crutch. I used it to stunt relationships, to leave jobs, and to end friendships. I used it because I very much believed that I was important and, by default, significant (more on that later).
Professional failure and my waistline have long-since humbled me for the better, but there’s something necessary and important about pride. If I let myself feel it, it can be one of the most significant gifts that I own.
I have a friend who is very similar to me—who fights the same demons. She cares very much about service and justice and being an advocate in her community. She understands that she’s had opportunities and access that she should be (and is) grateful for. Despite her opportunities and abilities, she has never felt satisfied professionally. She’s chosen roles in hopes of making an impact, but has spent most of her time navigating political barriers, leaders’ egos, and piles of spreadsheets. Her work has been all-consuming, and she’s had very little time to cultivate relationships with people close to her. Her close friends find her self-absorbed, but compassionate. Truthfully, she’s just drowning in overwork and overwhelm (yes, I made that up just now) and struggling to put one foot in front of the other day after day.
She does what she can to distance herself from her pride (that tells her she should be further in her career by now). She does what she can to distance herself from her anger (which tells her she should be more aggressive and should ruffle feathers that need to be ruffled, regardless of whose they are). She understands consequences. She understands emotional intelligence. She understands the importance of measuring twice, but cutting once.
Because we are friends, and because I am older, I feel as if I should offer solutions or wisdom. But the truth is that I inherited my mother’s work ethic and my father’s sense of duty and responsibility, and they tell me (the ethic and the duty, not my parents); they tell me that life is about service, and service isn’t about ourselves. We must be willing to commit our lives for the betterment of others, regardless of the fruit it bears for us.
Regardless of the pay, or the long hours, or the poor leadership, or the political battles, or the missed opportunities, or the missed family functions. Regardless of the stress and the pounds and the constant sense that you should’ve gone to college. Regardless of the fact that there are better and more profound ways to serve.
But because we are friends, and because I am older, I don’t want her to use her anger the way I do. I don’t want her to push it down and squelch it until it bubbles up and pops people in the face like hot grease. I don’t want her to slip further and further into hopelessness.
Pride is important. When we know who we are and what we stand for, decisions are easy. Patience and discipline come naturally. When we know what we want because we think we know what we’re entitled to, we act with a sense of urgency and with purpose.
When I was little, I read to my brother constantly. I read to my mother’s belly before he was born and, long since afterwards, we learned to make up stories together. In high school sometimes he’d text me out of the blue when he found a new inspiration, “Agatha Christie is a beast!” It’s one of my proudest memories: feeling as if I taught him a love of reading and writing; feeling as if I taught him something of value that he can carry with him forever.
Humility is important and necessary. But we need a moment or a memory that tells us that we are capable and important (right?). We need anger to tell us when we should take a stand or make a decision.
You are the last dragon. You already have what you need.
Week 33 Success:
- We bought a bookshelf and desk, and the place is feeling more and more like home.
- I finally took the car to the shop—a few minor issues, but nothing serious yet.
- He sold some prints this week and earned a commission (Buy some!). He’ll also teach an art class at HMAAC this Wednesday night.
Week 33 Failures:
- Anger and apathy—taking my anger out on people I love, not moving forward.
Is pride ever important? Have you ever needed pride?