Friday, October 31, 2014

It's Hard to Be Humble

[hyoo-mil-i-tee or, often, yoo-]
1. the quality of condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance, rank, etc.
Oh Lord it's hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way.
I can't wait to look in the mirror cause I get better looking each day.
To know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man.
Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble, but I'm doing the best that I can.

Humility.  What a beautiful quality.
I have always struggled with people who struggle with this particular trait.
I find arrogance and pretentiousness to be the ultimate "turn-offs" for me.
The really sad thing is that is often seems that the people (excuse me for a moment of sexism here)...mostly men, get ahead in this world by being just that.  Arrogant, prideful, self-important.  For example:  Donald Trump.  I would NEVER use "humble" as a word to describe him.  Arrogant, oh YES.  How about a kinder example:  Jack know, the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" guy.  He is a bazillionare, and is probably a nice guy, considering the books he puts out are all warm and fuzzy.  However, if you read the intro to his book "Success Principles" it is literally a chronicle of how wealthy he is.  He describes his fabulous homes, his lavish vacations, boats, cars, blah blah blah.  Don't get me wrong...the book is fantastic.  However, the first chapter was really hard to swallow, because it was soooo self-absorbant and arrogant.  Not an attractive quality.  I am sure his intent was to show us that "if you follow my Success Principles, you too can live the high life, just like I do!"  Unfortunately, it made me think he was a rich jerk who had just ripped $20 bucks out of my hand for this book.

I am much happier to root for the humble philanthropist who may earn a gazillion dollars each year, but rather than flaunt it, he/she simply continues to strive to make the world a better place by doing the work he/she loves, and uses some of his/her riches to make a difference in the community, state, country, world....whatever!  I would much rather read about that in chapter one!  I did not choose to read "Success Principles" because I wanted to have a yacht, 4 homes, and money coming out of my nostrils.  I would be perfectly happy with no debt, enough money to live comfortably (perhaps very comfortably?) get my kids through college, and have enough left to do something that really matters.

Being in the performing arts definitely exposes one to many levels of humility.  Or complete lack there of.  
I used to associate my lack of desire to break out into song in front of people (unless it was an actual performance) with being shy.
Then I realized that whenever I witnessed someone doing that...(actually breaking out into song in a highly populated area), I would be so embarrassed for them.  AND for me!   I know some people thought "Oh look at that!  They are so secure with themselves, that they can just sing anywhere!"  To me, witnessing an obnoxious display of vocal stylings in an inappropriate setting screamed "Excuse me everyone!  I need you all to pay attention to me right now, because my ego is feeling a little neglected, and this is how I inflate it."
I could be way off base here, but this is how it always comes across to me.
It is that desire to be the center of attention.  

Of course, it's fun to be the center of attention.  But, there is also a time and a place for it.  The middle of the lingerie department in Macy's isn't it.  
That is why I will never be found belting out show tunes as I walk down the aisles at the grocery store.  (Unless there are extenuating circumstances....which may or may not involve my sisters, relay races, rum chata, and the need to forget the fact that there are 12 children driving us crazy while our husbands hide in the garage.) Even then, it is much more likely that I would be engaging in an elaborate display of this is a much more appropriate action to engage in. (especially since the Westby IGA is known for playing some pretty great R&B music in the evening hours, AND, dancing is typically a quiet, non attention drawing art form.....unless you accidentally shimmy your way into the display of chips that should NOT have been on that end stand anyway.)
Husbands 1, 2, & 3 
See, I'm not kidding.  This is what they do, while we are inside with the kids.  This is, of course, after they disappear for 30 minutes, and suddenly reappear...conveniently stocked with a large supplies of malt beverages.  They actually think they are sneaky. 
Back to the topic at hand.
I think another important aspect of humility is to be fully aware of your talents, your abilities, your strengths, AND your weaknesses.
Music is a tough business to be in.  The ego factor is HUGE.  And it often has very little to do with talent.  Way too often it becomes a competition.  Which is horribly sad.    Music is something that should bring people together....not cause tension because of bruised egos. 
I think when the ego gets in the way, we forget to take a step back and look at ourselves realistically and honestly.
I mean, come on.  Let's look at the American Idol auditions.  How many people do we see go in, chasing this dream they have had their entire life, because they just KNOW they were meant to be the next great vocal artist?  They know they are amazing, their friends and family have told them they are amazing.....and then they start to sing, and it sounds like Bessie the cow getting strangled with her cow bell.

That is where reality needs to step in.  
I knew when I went to college that I would never be a piano performer.  I couldn't memorize a piece to save my life.  I wasn't technically good enough to play the really difficult repertoire.  I enjoyed playing classical music for myself, but I had no desire to sit and practice for hours on end to perfect a piece that I would play at a recital, and then put away forever.  When I would sit in our piano masterclass and listen to the piano performance majors, I knew I could never compare to them. (Heck, I sit at our studio recitals now, and know that some of these middle school prodigies can kick my butt!)  I wasn't going to let it bruise my ego, because why should me ego get involved at all?
I still had great skills on the piano, but in different areas.  I loved accompanying, so that was where I placed my focus.  I was good at embellishing, and sight reading, so playing at church was right up my alley.  I knew my weaknesses, and I knew my strengths, but most importantly, I never felt the need to pretend I was more than I really was.  I worked hard, but in all honesty, I wasn't willing to work that hard. I was content with my abilities, I admired the people who pushed themselves to go so much further, and I chose to continue doing what I did best....and I wanted to do it out of the spotlight.
 I preferred to be humble.

This past summer, we went on a Mission trip to St. Lucia.
It was such a gorgeous place, but I couldn't get over how quickly you could go from the mansions on the hill, to the tin and plywood "homes" in the valleys where the poverty stricken lived.
I loved going to their church services.  All of the women would wear their Sunday best, and they were gorgeous.  (Seriously, I don't think I have ever seen so many beautiful women in one place before!)  I, of course, always say what I'm thinking, so I would always compliment the ladies on their dress or shoes, or just how beautiful they looked.  The thing I noticed was how easily they took a compliment.  They never backpedaled like we tend to do.  (I'm horrible at taking compliments. I think it's my Norwegian upbringing.)  They would just smile and say "Why thank you, my darling."  It was fantastic.  
I think we often worry about coming across as being arrogant if we accept a compliment.  I know I struggle with that a bit.  I will always say "Oh...this old thing?  I got it on sale  two years ago...but thank you!"  Why can't I just say "Thank you?"  It is something I am working on.  

For me, the fear of coming across as arrogant is what holds me back at times.  I find myself getting really annoyed when people feel the need to tell me how fabulous they are at whatever....and I never want to come across that way to anyone.  There really is a fine line between "selling yourself", and just simply bragging about yourself.  

So, how does a person go about being confident without arrogance?
I think it is all about just being really honest with yourself.
If you are able to admit that you have flaws, and that there are things that you aren't great at....that is a big step toward humility.

However, just because you have flaws doesn't mean that you aren't willing to work on them.  Life is all about learning.  It's all about trying new things.  It is also about working with others.  You know what your strengths are, so when you combine those with the strengths of others, great things start to happen. 

I think one of the most important aspects of humility is taking the "me" factor out of it.
When you stop worrying about only yourself, and focusing on how you can get ahead, how you can be successful, how you can get rich, how you can be famous...etc, and start to think about how WE can make things happen, you open yourself up to something so much bigger.

Of course, we need to think about our personal goals...but what happens when we open that up to include more than just what we want?  What happens when we start to think beyond ourselves?  What happens when we open ourselves to the possibility of what we can do to make a difference in our community, in our schools, in our city, in our state....or beyond?  I think we often limit ourselves, and we begin our goals with "I want..."  How can we find a way to not just set goals for ourselves, but to inspire others as well?

In the end, I think living with humility is all about learning how to truly open our hearts to giving, inspiring, growing, and giving up our need to sit in the spotlight.  Instead, we can shine that light out to the world, and share the gifts that we have to give...because I really believe that when we use the talents and strengths we have, we are not only feeding our own souls, but we are inspiring others to do the same.

So, let's all go grab a slice of humble pie, and work toward creating something fantastic!!

This marks the end of the "31 Day Challenge."  
I successfully wrote for 31 Days, but I didn't write one post on the topic I had chosen for the challenge!  Eh, why stifle our creativity with planning, right?

Now, I'm on to creating challenges of my own.  The biggest one is how to turn this writing thing into more than just a hobby, or pastime that somehow steals hours from my day.  Until then, I will try to keep coming up with things to ramble on about each day, and hopefully provide some inspiration, or entertainment!

Have a wonderful, and slightly spooky day!

No comments:

Post a Comment